You have probably seen cats attached to harnesses and leashes on social media and are maybe wondering if this were something that your pet would enjoy too, especially if the cats you see online seem to be enjoying their walk.
It is worth remembering that cats generally don’t like anything to be placed over their head, and a harness is no different. This means that should you try to put a cat harness on your pet, you are likely to be met with resistance, particularly in the beginning. But according to those at Voyager Harness, this does not mean you should quit. Cats can get used to a harness and leash, provided you do things the right way. But how long will it take before your cat does get used to it?
Training a Cat to Wear a Harness
The length of time it takes to train a cat to get used to a harness and leash will depend. Some cats get used to it much quicker than others do, while some cats will never ever be happy in a harness. If this is the case, you need to accept that your cat is not going to be walking happily alongside you. Although you may have seen dog owners walking their pets without harnesses, attaching a leash to a cat collar is a big no.
Cats’ necks are much softer and more vulnerable than dogs’, so attaching a leash to a cat collar could cause an injury. Furthermore, cats are much more likely to wriggle free from a leash attached to a collar than they are if the leash were attached to a harness.
Though it may be easier to train a kitten to wear a harness, older cats can also be trained. So just because your cat is a couple of years old does not mean you shouldn’t try to get her used to the harness.
The best way to do this is to allow your cat to get familiar with the harness by letting her play with it and smell it. That way she will quickly learn that it is nothing to fear. Once she does not react to the harness, you could try to place it over her head.
As mentioned, it is normal for cats to resist anything being placed over their head, so if your cat resists or struggles in the beginning, don’t worry. You can try to distract her with a treat as you place the harness on her head; once it is on, give her some more treats. Leave it for a couple of minutes before taking it off.
Do the same the following day but leave the harness on for a little bit longer. Give your cat treats and rub her while she is wearing the harness. Continue to do this for the next few days or weeks until you think she is used to the harness.
The next thing to do is to get her used to the leash. The first time you attach it to the harness, allow it to hang loose. She can then pull it along and play with it, allowing her to get used to the feel of it. Use treats as you do this. When you think she is ready, you can practice walking inside as you hold the leash.
To conclude, cats can be trained to wear a harness and go for walks with their owners, but every cat is different and how long it takes will depend on the cat. Remember, your cat may never get used to it, and that’s okay too.