Find the right strap
While training on a leash can make some cats happier and healthier, others may object to it. A brave, social cat like Sushi greeting strangers at the door is more likely to enjoy spending time outdoors than a shy cat hiding under the bed when visitors are home.
Getting a cat used to a leash requires proper equipment and gradual home exposure.
There are two types of harnesses for cats. The thinner and lighter figure eight-style harness that wraps around a cat’s neck and shoulders can be a good starting point for getting a cat used to something on its body. However, this type of harness is far less secure than the wider, vest-like versions that climb tightly around the back and chest.
Much like dogs, cats have a floating collarbone that allows them to slide their entire body through any space wide enough for their head. This means that no cat harness is 100 percent escape proof. So take precautions when you have a cat who might be trying to squirm freely.
However, if the Velcro vests are firmly attached – that is, you can’t fit more than a finger under them – cats will jump out far less.
When buying a leash, look for something that feels comfortable in your grip. Some cat owners like stretchable bungee-style leashes to reduce drag, while others prefer a regular old dog leash.
A slow introduction to leash excursions
Start by getting your cat used to the harness by leaving it in the same room and then gently wrapping it around its neck before attempting to snap it shut or secure it with Velcro.
“If it takes months, it’s fine,” says Bell. “You want it to be a positive experience for them. The whole thing should be surrounded by treats and love and a happy high-pitched voice.”
After indoor desensitization, if your pet tolerates the harness and leash, move the cat to a quiet, peaceful place outdoors – off city streets – on a loose leash and let your cat lead the walk. You may want to stay in an enclosed space initially, e.g. B. in a fenced yard, in case your cat runs free.
“The successful catwalker is a cat owner who doesn’t expect their cat to be a dog,” says Tobi Kosanke, owner of Crazy K Farm Pet and Poultry Products. “Your cat could … want me to lie down and sniff the flowers.”
Keep an eye on both the harness and line to make sure there is never enough tension to allow an escape.
Even the adventurous sushi, who loves to sit in a backpack while his mother is cycling across the Brooklyn Bridge, swimming in Wampus Pond and walking the third mile from the city train station to his apartment, sometimes just wants to sit and take it with him Smells and sights of the water – even if it is on the edge of Niagara Falls. For these times, Sushi has its own stroller for a break.
Chan says it’s worth teaching your cat to walk on a leash when you can – both for humans and pets.
“It’s an asset for all of us,” says Chan. “Not just him.”