Many ask, why? A lot of people assume that it is a pointless task, since cats are fundamentally independent creatures, and others claim their cat would never tolerate wearing a harness, let alone being walked along by their owner.
It’s true that most cats will need harness and lead training, although some have been known to take to it instantly, but for house cats, the experience can be wholly liberating, for both cat and owner.
Last year, the PFMA reported that there are around 8 million cats in the UK, with about 19% of UK households owning at least one cat. Currently, most of these are indoor/outdoor cats, navigating inside and outside independently with the use of a cat flap. In urban areas, however, there is a larger percentage of indoor-only cats and indeed, many breeders of pure-breeds advise against letting your cat out on his or her own, for fear of being stolen.
Pure-breed or not, PETA recommends that all cats should be indoor cats, providing they have lots of stimulation and also suggest cat walking as a way to get them out and about safely.
Harness and lead training requires a little training and a lot of patience. Before you start, invest in a cat-specific harness and lead (here at PetsPyjamas we have some chic styles we’re sure your cat will approve of). Leave them near your cat’s sleeping area, so he or she becomes accustomed to the way it looks and smells.
Repeat this for several days, each day leaving the harness on for a little longer. Once your cat seems comfortable, attach the lead and let your cat walk around your living space, dragging the lead (ensuring he doesn’t get tangled). Give him treats and praise. Repeat this for a few days.
The next step involves letting your cat walk around but with you holding the lead slackly, so that it doesn’t restrict his movements too much. Repeat this for a few days, teaching your cat to follow you by tugging lightly on the lead.
Once your cat is used to this, move outdoors. Start off by walking in your own garden or in a quiet area. Gradually introduce him to new sights and sounds until he feels calm and comfortable.
Of course, some cats may not be suited to walking on a lead, however patient you may be. Be sure to monitor your cat’s behaviour and stop immediately if he becomes at all distressed.