What types of leashes are best to train a cat to walk on a leash?
The leash should be lightweight, especially because you’ll probably have your cat drag it during the leash-training stage. Therefore, you won’t want to buy one of those heavy leather leashes that are so great for dogs. There are plenty of nylon or woven ones to choose from for your cat.
Make sure the leash is a little on the short side, too. A six-foot or shorter leash works well. For safety reasons, the cat shouldn’t range too far from you, so the retractable leashes wouldn’t work.
A lot of people think cats just can’t be leash-trained but, in actuality, many of them enjoy taking walks with their owners as much as dogs do—and it’s just too dangerous now to let them roam loosely.
To get your cat used to the harness and leash:
• First, get her used to the harness. Keep it near her, let her sniff it, and let the harness smell like her by petting her with it. It’ll seem less frightening. Don’t put the harness on her yet.
• Introduce the leash: Drag it around like a toy, and praise your cat when she catches it. This will help her make the association of with fun times. Make the leash-chase-game part of her routine, always beginning the process with the halter-petting. Do this for at least a week before you ever attempt to put the halter on your cat.
• Once the leash and halter have become part of her normal “routine,” try putting the harness on her, gradually building up to about 15 minutes. By the way, it’s perfectly fine to “bribe” with treats.
• When your cat no longer objects to the harness, attach it to the leash and let her drag it around. Once she has that down, pick up on end and try walking indoors with her (again, treats are acceptable.) At first, let her direct the walk—you don’t want to pull or tug, but then gradually get her used to following you.
• Eventually, when both you both feel secure on the leash, you can explore the porch, smell the roses, or even mall walk together (if pets are permitted).