Not all cats are suitable for harness and lead training. If your cat is easily stressed or anxious, then it’s probably not for her. In this case, we recommend trying alternative ways to encourage your cat to exercise. For some inspiration, take a look at this video.
- First, find a secure, well-fitted harness designed for cats, but do not put it on your cat straight away.
- Secondly, place the harness on the floor and reward your cat with whatever motivates her best if she investigates it.
- Once she is doing this happily, try holding it up so she pokes her head through. Reward her when she does.
- When she’s comfortable, you can begin to place it on her body gently (without doing it up properly) and removing it. Reward her when the harness is on, and stop when it’s off.
- At this stage, you can try doing the harness up without the lead. Let her wander around and continue to reward her.
- Continue to practice this over a period of days so your cat becomes very excited when she sees the harness. You can then attach the lead and lure her around the house with a toy or treat so she follows you.
- After you have mastered walking indoors, you can venture outside. Begin in quiet, secure areas. Be patient and monitor your cat’s body language. If she becomes stressed or anxious, back up your training to an earlier stage. Each cat is an individual so it is important to work at her pace.
Learning any new behaviour takes time, practice and patience. Try to keep training to short bursts each day and only when your cat is in the mood to learn. For tips on how to read your cat’s body language, take a look at this short video.