What ways can I introduce a cat to a harness and leash inside the house?

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First, let your cat get used to the touch and feel of a harness. At first, just keep it out so she can sniff it and it becomes just another familiar object. Then, put the harness on her and thank her with a treat. If you detect any resistance at all, don’t force it. Stop what you’re doing and then go back to it a little later.

Once she lets you do it, try to keep her in the harness for about 15 minutes a day. Give her treats and a favorite toy; this will help her make a positive association. Believe it or not, she may even start to look forward to it, knowing that it brings the good stuff.

When she is used to the harness, introduce her to the leash. Remember, you’re indoors, so don’t hold the leash, just let her drag it. Then, when she’s used to that, you can start to pick up one end.

Now, let her learn to follow you, getting your cat used to the idea of following along at your side as you walk, and you should do this step both with and without the leash. Show your cat her favorite treat it and then walk along with the treat held down alongside your legs. When she follows, treat and praise. Once she’s managed that, do it with the leash attached. Hopefully the cat will get the idea that it’s following along at your side for a treat and won’t really notice the leash. When she follows, praise and treat.

You’re still safely indoors, but you’re holding the leash and now you can add another step: Hold a treat at eye level and use the verbal command “let’s walk” while letting her sniff and eat it. Repeat several times to be sure she’s used to following you; only when your cat is completely comfortable with walking on a harness and leash, you may attempt those first outdoors strolls.

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