Featured, That Cat of Ours

Leash Train Your Cat in 7 Excruciating Steps

I don’t post about That Cat of Ours too frequently, as Clover and Thyme is more of a garden and food blog. However, the Weekly Writing Challenge over at WordPress’ Daily Post got me thinking about a “cat post” idea I had back in the spring. I never followed through with it because I just didn’t think it would be relevant to the content of my blog. Today I decided to sit down and finally tackle my idea.

You see, our family has leash trained our cat. It was during one of our strolls around the backyard with Fluffernutter that I thought it might be fun to write a mini-tutorial on leash training your own feline. Please note that I’m not a vet. I’m just sharing our family’s experience in this leash training adventure. So without further ado, here’s something completely different: Leash Train Your Cat in 7 Excruciating Steps.

Darling Daughter takes Fluffs for a stroll.

Why Leash Train?

In a word – safety. Conventional veterinary wisdom states that indoor cats live almost twice as long as their outdoor counterparts. Makes sense when you consider all the hazards an indoor cat avoids – no cars to run them over, no wild animals to maul them, and no brawls with the cat down the street. But there is one obvious drawback to an indoor cat. Simply put, cats love the outdoors. Most cats who have had a taste of the great outdoors (like our ex-stray) will do whatever they can to breach the confines of their plush cage we call a home to get out and have a sweet romp in the grass. Leash training your cat allows your beloved feline to have the best of both worlds. They can enjoy the safety of indoor life with supervised field trips outdoors.

But take heed! Venturing outside with a leashed cat cannot be rushed. Cats are creatures of habit and if you rock their world with too much leash training too soon, the fur will fly. Here are the steps we took to adjust our street savvy kitty to life on a leash.

Step 1: Choose The Leash

It’s important to note that you can’t put Fido’s leash on your cat. Cats don’t behave on leashes the way dogs do (more on that later,) and as such, your cat will need a harness designed just for them. Most pet stores carry cat harnesses in a variety of sizes and shapes. The important feature to look for in a harness is restraint that is distributed across both the cat’s neck and chest. Cats run a risk of neck injury (even strangulation) if they are on a leash that only hooks around their neck. Some harnesses, like the one we have, feature two straps that clip around the cat’s neck and chest and then connect across the back. The leash you hold then clips onto a hook on the cat’s back. Other harnesses are more vest-like. Pick which ever one you think you and your cat can handle with as little wrestling as possible. I loved the look of the vests, but given our cat’s temper, I knew three quick clicks was going to be A LOT easier (and safer for me) than wrangling our cat into a vest. If your cat is more easy going, a vest might be a great option.

Step 2: Allow the Cat to Adjust to the Leash Indoors

Our family lovingly refers to this step of our cat’s leash training as the “salamander” stage. Cats do strange things when placed in a harness for the first time. It’s best to let them adjust to the harness indoors before you add all the chaotic stimuli of the great wide open. This step will take at least a week, maybe longer depending on your cat. Be patient and let your cat wear the harness (without the leash attached) indoors for about an hour or so each day. Praise them up, down and sideways as they get used to how the harness feels on their furry body. You can be almost guaranteed your cat will exhibit one or all of the following:

  • “The Choke” Your cat will pretend they are choking. They will do their best fur-ball gag routine to get you to remove the harness. Lovingly check to make sure the harness really isn’t too tight and if it isn’t, leave the harness on.
  • “The Dead Drop” This one is very entertaining. Your cat will sit quite still and then suddenly fall over sideways, or they will slowly drift sideways until they are lying down. It’s really quite funny to watch. You may be tempted to remove the harness so your cat will stop acting like a drunk. Don’t. Just have a hardy chuckle and leave the harness on.
  • “The Salamander” Even if your cat doesn’t act like the harness is sucking out its life breath, kitty will likely walk a little funny as he adjusts. This slinky gait is characterized by your cat slithering close to the floor, low and sneaky like a little ninja kitty spy. It’s also quite entertaining to watch. Leave the harness on and let Ninja Kitty do his thing.

Fluffernutter did all three of these tricks his first few times in his harness. But within a week, he had moved past all but “the salamander.” We then decided it was safe to move on to…

Step 3: Get Your Cat Used to Being With You Outside

If your cat had a taste of the outdoors in the past, as ours did, being outside with you following along on his tail as a chaperone can be the ultimate insult. Cats aren’t stupid. They know they are now restrained and this will stress them out initially. If your cat has never been outside, they might not be insulted, but they will definitely be stressed. All the bells, whistles and barks of the outdoors will take some adjustment. Fluffers continued his salamander ways for a while after going outside with us. Where he used to prance around like he owned the place, now he slithered around, hopping at every sudden noise because he knew he was restrained. If your cat does the same, take heart. This lessens over time. Fluffers gradually progressed from frantic bewilderment to ticked off resignation to acceptance pretty quickly. Once the cat is resigned to having you as their wingman it’s time to…

A snowy day…burr!

Step 4: Determine The Boundaries

Curiosity killed the cat. With that in mind, determine just how much leeway you want to give your furry friend. We live in a suburban neighborhood so our choices were limited. Letting Fluffers have the run of the neighborhood while we trailed along behind him trespassing on our neighbors’ property wasn’t an option. Sooo, we could either keep him in our yard, or get him to walk along the sidewalk. We tried both. We learned the next step the hard way.

Step 5: Don’t Expect Walks

Cats are not dogs. They kind of pride themselves on that. While some cats have been known to walk along the sidewalk on a given route, most cats (including ours) will not. Fluffers would happily walk away from our house, but getting him to turn around (or even loop around the block) to come home without a myriad of detours was next to impossible. We quickly discovered that Fluffers was (mostly) happy to just browse around our yard, sniffing, stalking, and rolling around within the bounds of our property line. He still tests the boundaries regularly, but there is usually plenty going on in our own yard to keep him entertained.

Step 6: Expect the Unexpected

Did I mention that cats are not dogs? Your cat may do any number of funny, unexpected things while outside with you (which is another great reason to keep your cat close to home.) Our cat has been known to climb trees (we unhook his harness when he gets the “I’m about to climb a tree” look,) stalk birds (we don’t unhook the harness for this,) and often he just stretches out and takes a nap while we sit and contemplate life beside him. But don’t get complacent! Cats can keep you on your toes. Stay alert and have fun exploring the yard “cat style.”

Step 7: Be Patient, Consistent, and Ignore the Stares

Fluffers has a bit of a temper and he will sometimes growl under his breath when we start moving him toward the door to come back inside. We make sure to reward him with a generous helping of catnip every time he comes in from a growl-free adventure outdoors. If your cat has a rough time of it now and then, be patient. They will soon realize how fun it is to go out exploring with you and they will hop at the chance to join you for a field trip. All we have to do is grab the leash and say, “go outside??” and Fluffernutter is at the door waiting. If he doesn’t go out regularly, though, he gets grumpy and whiney. So make sure you are willing to take your kitty out on a regular basis if you decide to undertake this endeavor.

Lastly, be warned. You will get stares and comments. One little girl asked me, “Aren’t cats just supposed to run free outside?” Sadly, this is the opinion of most. Just tilt your head and smile, and tell them you are keeping your cat safe and sound so he can be a part of your family for many years to come. Tell them the fringe benefit is that your cat won’t be digging in their garden or making out with their cat or better yet, beating up their dog. That should satisfy them.

Shop Now!

Ready to give this a try with your sweet kitty? Shop for a harness by clicking the image above. Note, this is an Amazon Affiliate link. By purchasing through this link, I earn a small commission. Thanks for your support!

So I hope you enjoyed my little detour from gardens and recipes. Our cat is a wonderful part of our family, fur-balls, temper, and all. If you own a cat, I hope you might find this post helpful. Perhaps you will even find that getting your cat outdoors the safe way isn’t that excruciating after all.


182 thoughts on “Leash Train Your Cat in 7 Excruciating Steps”

  1. First off, I love the name “Fluffernutter”! Secondly, I’ve tried leash-training our outdoor precisely because she loves the outdoors so much and gets into brawls with other cats, but I’ve kinda given up. The “dead drop” is her tactic and instead of walking her, I end up dragging her across the floor….I don’t know though if it’s too late to start again, because she now has a taste for the wild outdoors and her freedom (off leash that is)! Great post and congrats on being FP!

    1. Thanks for dropping by! Yeah, when we brought Fluffernutter in from “the mean streets” we kept him inside exclusively for a good month just to drive home the point that he was not a stray anymore. I think he quickly surmised that unless he was harnessed he wasn’t going outside again. But I wouldn’t give up hope – it’s worth another try!

  2. Awww, what a wonderful post. Nice photos, too. I leash trained one of my cats or, I should say, she leashed trained me. I caught on that she wanted to go outside so I got the leash and harness and voila! She was a natural and really provided me with an enjoyable experience, especially at night. Now she’s in the spirit world were no leashes are required. Thanks for your post! It reminds me to post a sort obit/bio that I wrote for her. I’ll be back soon for another visit/read.

  3. Great post! I’m so happy, for all concerned, to see you had such great success. But — I don’t see our experience here . . . . My Bugsy did the crocodile death-roll until he got OK with the Evil Vest inside the house —

    and things looked like they were going reasonably well —


    but after that, he got so spooky, at the slightest provocation he learned pronto how to turn himself into a tornado, levitate, and whirl free of the vest.


    He’d run under the house and on a few occasions stay there for four hours.


    After three times, we gave up.

    Sorry. Seemed like a great idea.

    1. Just checked out your posts. Bugs is one cute kitteh. We’ve had our share of acrobatic feats in the harness, too. I wish you had video of the tornado whirl. That sounds thrilling – for you and Bugs!! LOL

  4. as a vet, I love it when people come in with leash trained cats. Cats are definitely masters of their own world though and some personalities will NEVER allow themselves to be leash trained.

    1. Every cat does indeed have a distinct personality, don’t they! I don’t think I could ever get Fluffers to be calm on a leash at the vet. The backyard is adventure enough!

    2. My roommate CATSANOVA (named at the shelter) but I call him “kitty meow-meow or mister FLUFFYTAIL loves the balcony. He constantly was bringing me to the door of the apartment prompting me to go into the hallway. Sometimes he marches up and down–other times he hugs the wall. Inside the apartment he acts like it isn’t even on….
      I don’t know how long I should leave it on him– he is approximately 11 years old but is still full of pep.

  5. Awesome post! I used to walk one of my cats on a leash and she would approach people just like a dog however she would have to lead. Great memories. I also, loved the pics. Good job on training too..

  6. Great post! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I managed to leash train one of our cats this summer. He’s always been an indoor cat, but when I am out in the garden in the summer he likes to come out with me. Now when he sees me take out his harness he runs to the back door, sits down and waits for me to get him dressed to go outside.

    1. Will he be content to just hang out with you by your garden? I wish Fluffers would do that. He never wants to stay by my garden long enough for me to get anything accomplished. πŸ™‚

      1. He is content to just hang out with me. I thought he might prefer to chase after the butterflies, but I took him out several times when I was sitting in the garden reading. He crawled into my lap and slept there for an hour.

    1. Thank you! He’s a unique cat. He’s really a tough guy, capable of some major shreddage – but I think he knows the harness is his only ticket outside!

  7. My cats acted like this when I just tried to train them to wear a collar (you’d have thought I wrapped a live snake around their neck). I like the idea of leash training, but I don’t think they’d ever forgive me if I tried.

    Great post!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I think every cat I have owned in my life has at one point or another pretended to choke to get out of wearing their collar. Smart little stinkers.

  8. I’m going to try this on my kitty, Eartha. She’s a diva though, literally….I’m going to expect the choking, loud irritated growling/meowing and sideways drift.

  9. I’m going to try this with my feline child. He spends most of the day with us, but refuses to stay in the night since he grew up a bit. Thanks for the post. It gives me inspiration to try leash training him.

  10. Yep, I got the ol’ dead drop with my cat. You’re right, I did laugh. (And never tried it again.) With another cat I got the “I’m scared! Really scared! I’m going to go nuts and jump wildly at the end of the leash and nearly choke myself.”. And yeah, never tried it again.

    Another thing to tell the starers is that the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is 2 years. Having had outdoor cats all my life, I didn’t believe it until my 2 year old was run over by a car. 😦 Now they’re all indoor guys.

    1. 😦 So sorry about your kitty. Wise move for sure keeping them in. When I was a child our cat was an outdoor kitty. She beat the odds and lived to be 16. Frankly, I don’t know how she did it.

      1. Some cats are super street savvy. We had one cat that just didn’t know how to cross streets, deal with trees and adjust to new places and kept getting hit by cars and stuck in trees. He eventually moved away with my sister and caugt leukemia from one fo thier local strays because they didn’t keep up on shots. Our other cat, however lived til 22 spending every day outside. He was the healthiest most powerful cat you have ever seen, too.

  11. Awesome. What a hilarious spin on the patience it takes to “train” a cat. My older cat handled the leash just fine, but I gave up after my new guys were in the ‘salamander’ phase. Sounds like I just need to give it more time and patience – and your blog post got my Friday off with a giggle – and I am totally going to give it another ‘go’ with the harness.
    Thanks, and congrats on FP!

    1. Thanks so much! Definitely give it another go. There were several times we were ready to throw in the towel, but we just had to push through all the kitty cat histrionics and now things have calmed down (for the most part!) LOL

  12. I have a dog and every morning when im forced to roll out of bed to take him for a walk I’d think having a cat would’ve been so much easier but obviously not. My dog is a lot like your cat, funnily.

    1. Well, if our cat can be taught new tricks (he wasn’t a kitten when we trained him,) I’d say anything is possible. It’s worth a try if your cat seems to be longing for the outdooors!

    2. My buddy is ~ 11 years….curiosity does not kill a cat–it’s what the live for! Apparently he was hit by a garbage truck –he’s from a shelter–but he is game for anything. I just try little things and then ignore him –he would not go on the balcony so I just left it open bit one night– he looked quite guilty when I caught him but now he lives out there!

  13. love this post! i have tried to talk my significant other into letting me walk my cats on a leash with little results. i don’t know why other people are so resistant to cats being safe as indoor pets. My parents still tell me to let my cats outside, “they will be fine” even though my cats have been indoor their entire lives. like you said :), i just smile and tell them “no, it’s not safe”

    1. Some cats do great outside… Some do not. I support outdoor cats but I would never let an indoor-only cat outside without a leash. Similarly I would not let a cat raised to be outdoors in an urban setting outside in a rural area because they have no idea how to get by and vice-versa. So while cats are very adaptive, they have to be raised to a certain lifestyle to be able to live in it.

      1. Great point, quarteracrehome. That reminds me of another important point – Fluffers still has his claws. Any declawed indoor cat should be kept inside, leash or no leash.

      2. My brother is a hunter and there is an unspoken rule that they kill cats because they are known to raid bird nests.

  14. o goodness thank you. I have had a really hard time of training my maddy. I will really take what you have put into this article to use. Thank you so much for the post. Will read on!

  15. 2 of my 3 cats are trained to walk on a harness. I’m sad to say its been a while, but they do seem to like it. Well, I take that back…my Bengal used to but for some reason now gets really scared when she is anywhere but home. My calico still loves it πŸ™‚

    1. We had a cat years ago who I never even bothered leash training because he was terrified of the outdoors. He was also a stray, but I think he had such a hard time of it outdoors that he was happy to just be inside.

  16. They are sneaky, aren’t they? Trying to get you to a stage of complacency, then “wham”, they’re gone. We let ours roam about the fenced backyard under supervision once in awhile, and sure enough one of them found that hard-to-find gap in the fence, leaving us to scramble as we ran the long way around the house hoping they had not galloped away. Thankfully, they had not, and perhaps I will take my son up on his oft-repeated suggestion, “We need to take the cats on a walk with us!” Fun post. ~ Kat

    1. Thanks! Yes, Fluffs gives us a run for our money every now and then. We’ve learned to watch for the signs of an impending pounce or jump and unhook him from the lead just before he makes his move. Then when he’s done his tricks we hook him back up. It works (most of the time!)

  17. Congratulations on being FP. We are just starting to leash-train our cat and your experiences and advice are most helpful.

  18. I’ve leash trained two of my cats who are strictly indoor except for leash time. They actually really like it now and when I shake the leash they run to the door and wait for me. They also don’t do much outside, just lay there and eat grass mostly.

  19. Your cat really is fluffy, and I love his personality. πŸ™‚
    Great article! I don’t have a cat, but I love reading cat-related stories.

  20. I wonder if this would be a little more successful if trained while young. i want a cat at some point when i know I could take good care of it. Great post, congrats on Freshly Pressed! πŸ˜€

  21. Having read about Trixie the fish and Ricky the cricket, I understand about Fluffernutter the cat. Sort of. But even you say that cats are not dogs.
    I’m off to buy shortening for that coffee cake. Thanks for the recipe.

  22. Fluffernutter! Brilliant name. This made me laugh. It is brilliant. I am a cat lover. I used to work in a vet on reception and we used to sell some lovely cat collars and cat harnesses. Good insights and instructions.

    1. Thank you! I never knew how much variety there was in harnesses for cats, maybe that’s a sign that it is becoming more common – I hope!

  23. oh i know that “salamander” stage! it was for that readon that we called our kitty’s harness “the immobilizer.” great article. thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes, a rambunctious kitty would be a leash training adventure for sure!! Cats just wouldn’t be cats without these special personalities, would they? πŸ˜€

  24. I love this post! We’ve trained three cats to “walk” outside on a leash but we trained them when they were kittens . . . SO MUCH EASIER.

    Once trained, we just say, “You want to go for a walk?” If they do, they head for the door and wait for us to put on their leash.

    1. Yes, I’ll bet it’s fun training kittens! Fluffers is a β€œone cat household” kind of cat (to put it mildly,) so I won’t be training any kittens anytime soon, hopefully. But I would love to try training a kitten sometime down the road.

  25. I leash trained my cat a couple of months ago and it’s been interesting. Tigger likes to drag me into the bushes, which causes the leash to get tangled up. I haven’t taken him outside recently though. I’ll have to start doing that again.

    1. They do like to take creative detours! Fluffers has a favorite Japanese maple he will crawl under. We just unhook him and let him hang out whilst we sit on the step with the lead waiting for him to reemerge. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the visit!

  26. Awesome post. I hace three cats and only one of them likes the leash, the other two hate it and abhor it, but it’s fun once they get used to the harness. I have taken the one who sort of ‘likes it’ to Pet Smart with me and people go crazy to see a cat on a leash, LOL!

  27. My cat is so leash-happy that I put him on a long line and let him out semi supervised in the backyard.

    I thought I was so clever, until he got fleas 😦

  28. I enjoyed this a lot – I think my rag doll is at the “salamander” stage right now. She just sits half-in, half-out the doorway, not quite willing yet to commit to a total outdoor experience. I’d love for her to explore a bit more, but am not pushing her. it’s a big world out there for a small pussycat!
    Thanks for the timely post, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed,

    1. Thanks for visiting! Yes, it’s important to go at their pace. Hopefully your little kitteh will be exploring the out of doors before you know it!

  29. This is so terribly cruel 😦
    Cats are free spirited and to try and check that, according to me is nothing short of criminal deviancy.

  30. Hi, I’m Ann and I’m new to your blog. I read the post on leash training a cat because I have temporary custody of our daughter’s huge Siamese, and while he has been an outdoor cat in the city, he now lives on top of a mountain and his new companions will be bobcats, mountain lions and coyotes. Given all that, our daughter brought a harness when she delivered him, and I was little at a loss how to even put it on. Your post came just in time, and I will be following your lead (no pun intended) to get him used to it. Perfect timing, and entertaining as well as informative! BTW, I have a blog called ” mylifewithwieners” that is all about wienerdogs. It’s pretty funny. Check it out if you have the inclination and tell me what u think. I like your writing style and I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

  31. I always wondered if you can leash train a cat, because where I live you have to keep your Cat indoors or they will become coyote Dinner. I will have t o try this if I decide to get another Cat…Great post,!…:)

  32. Nice post. I have leashed trained a cat and a rabbit before. It works and it sure save them from fights with other animals. BB shots and cars. A happy cat is a safe one. I have also put my cat in a dog kennel before. It sure saved me from the expensive vet bills from other cats and getting shot.

  33. I did consider trying to leash train my cat when we were spending weekends away from home. She firstly played dead and then used my legs as a tree, sprinted up to smack me across the face and turned into a wild tornado of spite.

    1. Uh oh. That’s not good. Guess there is no use in me saying, “better luck next time,” huh? Oh well. At least you tried. πŸ™‚

  34. Lovely blog post and photos – I tried to take Boo my cat out on a harness and leash the first few times out when he was really little – he kinda just flopped in a heap and refused to get up.

    Really didn’t work – luckily he’s established a little territory for a few gardens either side and avoids traffic and loud noises.

    1. Ha!!! I remember this video! I actually saw this video back when I was researching leash training. Made me have some second and third thoughts about it. Thankfully, Fluffers never played the wild, leg biting tornado card.

    1. Yep, sometimes all we do is outside nap supervision. It’s a great time to browse and download music on iTunes. πŸ™‚

  35. Ahh, how I miss my Tom Bombadil. He was the best with walking on a leash. In fact, he was the mascot at the little produce stand I ran during the summers through college. We went to parades, festivals, parks – he was a champ. Back then I was more adventurous myself though – the three that I have now are content with their indoor fortress, but sometimes we venture to the back patio.

    Fun post πŸ™‚

    1. Sweet Tom Bombadil! I can just picture him manning the produce market, walking along the parade route with a little balloon…can you tell I read a lot of children’s books? I have this all illustrated in my head! πŸ™‚

  36. We used to have a cat, and the chances of it letting The Servants do anything it didn’t want – like, feed it a pill or put it in a cage for the vet – was pretty much zero… Each of these had a 100-step process of which every other step was “go back inside, run hands under cold water until bleeding stops, bandage, start again”.. Leashing? Uh…never tried that one, for some reason. Cool cat though, providing we understood firmly we were The Hired Staff

    1. β€œgo back inside, run hands under cold water until bleeding stops, bandage, start again”

      So I have to tell you, I busted out laughing when I read that. Gee, why have you never tried leash training? πŸ˜‰ Hee Hee.

      Best wishes from one Hired Servant to another. Wish me luck, I have to get Fluffers in a carrier for his yearly vet visit this month.

  37. — One little girl asked me, β€œAren’t cats just supposed to run free outside?” Sadly, this is the opinion of most. Just tilt your head and smile, and tell them you are keeping your cat safe and sound so he can be a part of your family for many years to come. —

    I have been leash training my cats for a while, and my mom asked the same question the little girl asked. I told my mom exactly what is posted afterward and guess what? She still doesn’t believe me because the cats her dad had ran around outside whenever they wanted. Wake up mom, it isn’t the 70s. Times have changed, and you lived in another state. She still won’t listen.
    My cats were raised out doors the first three months of their life, so they love going outside. They know they have to use the harness and leash, but how often should I take them out? I want to try 15 minutes each (I have two cats) every other day. Would that be a good time? I wish they would walk like a dog, but one is a proud female and the other male thinks he is a lion, so they both refuse. Oh well, too bad. I guess they are still scared from the time I took them to the park, even though no one was there.

    1. Yeah, we quickly learned things were just a little too dicey if we roamed too far from the yard. Too much stimuli, noises, etc.

      To answer your question about timing, we usually take Fluffernutter out for about 30-45 minutes. We try to get him outside everyday, but more realistically it ends up being every other day. Some days he comes in sooner (too cold, too windy, you know how cats are!) LOL

      Thanks for commenting!

  38. Wonderful post!

    I grew up with free roaming cats, but since all of them suffered early deaths, I’ve since left the opinion that cats should be roaming free as they will is long gone. If I ever get another pet of the feline persuasion, it will be an indoor animal.

    The only non-dog leash trained animal I’ve had though were ferrets. My little female would accept the harness and leash to go out, but behaved more like a cat. If you so much as gently tugged in a direction as a suggestion, she’d flop to the ground and lay there.

    My HUGE (10 lbs, nearly 3 ft long) male ferret was better on a leash than all but the most well trained dogs. He’d caper right along at my side, stop only when I did and every time we came to an intersection, he’d look up at me until he knew which way to go. I’d take him on hikes with a sturdy backpack for him to ride in when he’d get tired and plenty of food and water. Amazing how far he could go before wanting to ride. I miss him…

      1. He’d half perch on one shoulder to watch the scenery go by rather than curl up and peek out. He was a very bold animal. Startled a lot of my fellow hikers too. Not every day you see a huge white ferret with red eyes bounding along or looking at you from a woman’s shoulder while in the woods. πŸ˜€

        Alas, he’s gone now. Ferrets aren’t known for longevity. 😦

      2. 😦 Thanks for sharing your little angel’s story. I’m really treasuring all these sweet pet stories in these comments!

  39. BECKY (a wonderful name!)—Please check our blog at ourpoetrycorner.wordpress.com, for TWO POSTINGS directly influenced by your work here! ENJOY (sure hope you will!)—Jonathan Caswell

    1. I just did! Wow, wait till I tell Fluffers that he has inspired poetry. He’s truly come into his own now πŸ™‚ Glad our blog was an inspiration πŸ˜‰

  40. Love this…we tried it with ours, he didn’t do the salamander, the dead drop or the choke- he ran about….backwards!! Now a very huge fluffy cat running around at full pace is something you can’t keep a straight face about..! πŸ™‚ He has got used to it now!

  41. This is a great post! I thought about putting a leash to our cat Chichi but he’s a real snob. πŸ˜€ He’s free to roam around my in-laws backyard now and again (that’s where he is at the moment) but I still insists of him always being indoor just because he got really ill from the outdoors (UTI and kidney infection 😦 ) He’s much better now though.

      1. It’s a He. πŸ˜€ I know it sounds like a she. Teehee ^^ Chichi is feeling better now and thank you πŸ™‚

  42. I absolutely loved reading this! If we had a cat this is what we’d do. But alas, hubby is allergic, so as close as we come are the feral cats people keep dropping off (we’re in the country).

    1. Thanks for dropping by! My husband is allergic, too. He’s managed to build up a pretty good tolerance though. He just has to be cautious not to pet the cat too much when his seasonal allergies are acting up. The things we do for the pets we love!! πŸ™‚

  43. The eldest of our family cats (there are four of them…) likes to be outside, so he’s leashed/harnessed anytime he’s in the backyard. We clip the leash onto a metal stake in the middle of the lawn and kitty is then free to run around by himself. Just make sure there’s nothing in the way that could get caught on the leash, or you run into some serious issues! Adorable post.

    1. Thanks for the visit! We considered a similar setup for Fluff, but there is just too much in our backyard that he could tangle (and dangle) from. So we just come along for the ride. πŸ™‚

      1. Oh no! Dangling bad! 😦 Going alone with the cat is more fun anyway. I love your writing style; you have yourself a new follower! πŸ™‚

      2. If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will! πŸ˜›

        (I’m not evil or cruel, by the way!)

  44. I used to adopt a lot of kittens before until they grow to be teenagers hehehe. Never tried leash training them and they all stayed outside the house. My mom does not allow pets inside. When they grew adults they left. If ever we will get a cat as pet I might try leash training. hehehe! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  45. Hey! I know this was posted a few months ago but I was just researching leash training cats and this post came up. So if you dont respond, I understand, but hopefully you do. I have been wanting to leash train my Patches since we got her. I even bought a harness and leash. Now she’s about a year and a half and has been an inside cat since we got her at 4 months. I think it would be fun to bring her outside, but my boyfriend has been against it. He has had several cats, some outside, some inside/outside, and some “inside” that are “door-darters” and try to dart outside whenever the door is opened. He is afraid that if we start taking Patches outside she will wind up a “door-darter”. I suppose his fears are understandable.

    So I was wondering if you have ever had a problem with your cats starting to door dart after you have been bringing them outside. I dont want to risk my baby doing this and getting lost, since she has always been an inside cat. Plus we live in a very urban area and I wouldnt want her to get hurt.

    1. Yes, this is a risk. Fluffers is a door darter, but he was even before we started him on the leash, because was previously a stray. If your kitty is content indoors, it may be best given your situation just to keep him indoors, especially since you are in an urban setting. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

    2. This works for most cats ….
      Make sure you carry them over the threshold. When I heard this I was more than skeptical….it works! Make sure you walk a few steps before you set kitty down. Try it–what can you lose….

  46. i would like to leash train my kitten but everyone keeps saying it is a silly idea he is an indoor cat but tries to get out a lot i might just give this a go anyway

  47. Just found your blog post.
    I’m just about to shift my lovely big lump of cat half way round the globe and he will become an indoor cat too as my native country has too many endangered birds for it to be acceptable to let him out (and where I’m going to be living is on a busy road)…so harness training is on the cards.
    I’m hoping his affectionate nature and the fact he loves being handled will help. I can imagine success being him being carried 100meters down the road on a fine day and exploring the botanical gardens – with many ammused stares from bystanders.
    My biggest worry is his historical taste for stalking dogs…

  48. I agree cats should be generally free to roam, but when one lives in an apartment building, 3rd floor, letting them out isn’t an option…. so a leash roaming is the only thing I can offer…. Also, teaching a cat to be on a leash allows you to take them places that they wouldn’t otherwise go, expanding their experience of the world (or at least the local world). Even take them camping/ RVing too. If I take my cat outside of the neighborhood he/ she knows (another part of the city, or outside of the city), they would get lost if allowed to roam which would be detrimental to them.

  49. Hi Enjoyed the article (and replies). My cat was an outdoor cat (cat door) and next door neighbour complained so have kept him in for past couple of months. My partner wasn’t keen on an outdoor enclosure because he said cat would not have much room to move so bought a lead/harness and have been taking him out in the back yard for short walks. He wasn’t too bad with the harness, but does walk funny – looks like he is about to tip over all the time. Interestingly, despite originally darting around the yard like he owned it, he is now very cagey when I take him outside and wants to come back in very quickly . Don’t mind though I think that with time he will learn to enjoy the outdoor (supervised) trips – I wasn’t keen initially but have changed my mind so will see how it goes. It is definitely a safer option.

  50. re: “The Choke -Your cat will pretend they are choking.” A helpful post, but I was concerned about your emphasis on that statement. Perhaps that’s true in the case of your creative cat, but in general I would err on the side of caution here! My cat would choke for real, outside, when straining against her harness. (a neck and waist combo contraption) I was concerned and distressed by that, so I am now searching for an alternative “neck -free” harness. Thanks for the encouragement, though!

  51. Hi, our cat Pete, at 3 years of age, started training for camping last week, needless to say walking on a leash has and is Step 1. He took to this Day 1. Your 7 Steps bared no similarities to our experience. We didn’t start him at home either. We drove him to a nearby park, sat with him, and I then walked with him about 50 metres or more. Being in the open proved to be quite frightening to him we found. By Day 3 we walked from the same park to under a busy roadway to a bush reserve with walking tracks frequented by joggers, walkers, and people walking dogs. He loved this, especially when we got off the track and into the natural bush land. He just loves exploring this environment and the “scaredness” and looking behind him to ensure his safety, has disappeared. Yesterday we met a couple with their dog that was on a leash. Pete showed no concern and even approached the dog as if to say hello. Pete is a natural at walking at on leash. We walked over a kilometre yesterday.
    Thanks for this opportunity to share our story too.

  52. Oh man my cat does two out of those three things – I honestly thought she just really hated it, since my other cat picked up her harness without batting a ear. I’ll be sure to keep it on her now, so she can get used to it πŸ™‚

  53. I have two cats, a Persian and a ragdoll, and they are both indoor only cats. I’ve been thinking of training them to walk on leash, but I am really worried that once they get a taste of walking outdoors that they will try to run outside when the door is open. I have boarders and I’m not always at home so I can’t really monitor my cats and the door. Do you think my cats will go out when given an opportunity even without the leash or will they associate the leash with the outdoors

    1. Hi Elton, I think it really depends on the cat. Our cat loves the outdoors, and is definitely a “flight risk”, sneaking outside whenever the opportunity presents itself. If you have boarders, it may not be worth the risk of having them escape when you are not there.

  54. I’m trying to figure out what went wrong with my cat the other day. I had her on her harness and leash, definitely not the first time and as we were going back inside she began literally flipping out and bouncing off everything like in the video of “Pinky the cat hates leashes.”
    She ended up getting the part of the neck harness stuck in her mouth and my mom finally got a hold of her. When I tried to get the clip of the harness unstuck from her mouth she began growling and bit completely through my thumb, I don’t blame her, it was my fault I got bit.
    I’m just trying to figure out why she flipped out like that, there were no other animals around, no sudden noises…
    Also what is it called when cats do that?

    1. Taylor, there were no sudden noises that YOU heard. Remember that cats have much better hearing that humans! It’s entirely possible that a sudden sound in her hearing range occurred, or even that a scent that scared her hit. As for what it’s called, well, I generally call it “freaking out.” My kitty freaked out the same way the other day because my dad came over when he wasn’t expecting it.

  55. Hello! I just bought my cat a leash, he used to be an outdoor cat but cozied up to the indoors quickly. I don’t know if my cat does the salamander while I take him out (we practice in the lobby of our apartment building) I bring him far from the door and he looks around a bit and then quickly makes his way back to my apartment door with his body and tail low. I let him in right away. Should I keep letting him in asome he runs to the door or should I let him stay out in the lobby and get him used to it. He gets nervous the most when people are coming in through the main door.

  56. Hey, So I’ve been walking my cat outdoors for a while now. She’s a bengal, which generally means they have a more feisty temperment. For a bengal, she’s pretty obedient. She loves going outside, (but she likes to stay in our perimeter, around the building over and over.) But here’s the thing: there’s two neighboring cats that live across from us… and it’s this little alcove. I have to maneuver to get up and down. From the alley, there’s a fence in rhe way. I learned the hard way when there’s other cats around she goes kinda nuts. I have to keep accompanying her as she runs after another cat. But twice now she’s tried to go after a cat and bounce- her harness stops her, and she was angry enough to hurl herself at my foot and claw and bite my foot! I guess I’d interrupted her territorial dispute one too many times. When there’s another cat around, I can tell she seems to really love it, she goes all “mowwwww” at them, low haunting howls. But I can’t get everywhere she can, so the limits really bother her, especially since this means the other cat- NOT on a leash- is scampering off while she can no longer catch then.

    Since I live in a city, and there seem to be a few cats (the neighbor cats are free to come and go from the windows) and another cat I’ve seen more than once in the little alcove, what can I do to make things easier? When we come back in from having seen another cat, she meows at the door for hours, wanting to go back outside.

    Anyway, it’s a little worrisome.

    She will go in other directions, but I have to pull, she skids forward, pull, skids forward. She likes to choose the direction so I let her. If I want to walk somewhere else, I can pick her up and then set her down. But she prefers to just walk around the building hoping to see another cat. But when we do see another cat it’s kind of a problem. She sees them from the windows too. Not exactly sure how to handle it. She gets so upset when there’s another cat and she can’t chase all the way after them because of the harness. one of the times she bit me I was pulling on the harness ready for her to start heading home. I can see why it must be aggravating to have me noisily clodding after her when she’s running after another cat, but I’m not about to let her run freely! She’s not a biter normally, these two times have been a first.

    I’ve sort of taught her not to go through the fence through the hard way, but when we’re in the little alcove she doesn’t seem to understand that all the brush and trees make it difficult for me to get around.

    Otherwise, we’re on cement and it’s fine. She’s actually a pretty obedient and calm cat most of the time (besides the need to play every day, which is typical for bengals, and compared to the last bengal I had, she’s not high strung at all.) I got her when she was 6, she won a ton of awards in shows. She bred a lot of very expensive kittens.

    Any suggestions? We didn’t really have much training, I just took her out and we started going out around the same time every night. She meows at the door and I walk with her, listening to an audio book on my headphones (unless she spots another cat.)

  57. I had no idea that cats could be trained, given the fact that they are actually wild predators with not much of a brain and the bit that they have being used to pester wildlife. I am a dog person, but admire the fact that you have managed to train your cat. Wish all cat owners would be that considerate, since I frequently have to pick up my own discarded garbage that was strewn across the courtyard by cats after the cats ripped open the garbage bags. Totally annoying. Do you perhaps have a solution? Is there something that I can spray on the bags to keep these pests away? I’m at my wits end and very close to putting out poison to get them away from my yard permanently. I hate cats, but wouldn’t want a young child to lose their pet because the cat couldn’t keep to its own yard, so I really need some advice.


  58. Thanks for the post and the great tips! Im starting to train my cat with a harness because instead of leaving her when I go off on family trips to the outdoors or even simple shopping errands I wanna be able to take her with me. I’m hoping hoping she’ll get used to it. By the way, our other cat looks very similar to your Fluffernutter! I was just super excited to see the photos and how similar our Timmy looks to Fluffernutter.

  59. Wonderful post, I just started leash training our new cat a few weeks ago, and we’ve finally come to the point where she’s delighted to go outdoors, the problem is getting her back in. Yesterday we were out for half an hour and I was ready to go back in but she absolutely refused, when I picked her up she let me walk all the way to the door before biting me and trying to get away. She didn’t even look at the treats I’d offered her which is surprising because she’s generally very food motivated. I ended up having to half drag her in with the leash, thankfully it was only a foot or two, but it still made me feel awful, and definitely not something I’m willing to do every time. I’m debating not taking her out anymore if it’ll be impossible to get her to come back in. Any suggestions?

  60. I’m not sure if you’ll read this, but thank you so much for sharing your experience. Our 1-year-old has been used to being outdoors with us but without the leash. We love the walks as much as she does. But due to a stressful event one evening, we decided that she needed to be leash-trained.

    Today is day 2 of her harness training. She still plops down dramatically and looks at me like I’m evil but is motivated enough to get up and walk 2 feet for treats (i take this as very positive).

    She’s very energetic and loves to explore, truly detests close contact apart from head rubs. We are hoping so much that we can get her to accept the harness and leash as that is the only way we are letting her out again.

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