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Can I Take My Cat Out on a Leash? Training Tips and More!

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

Beautiful grey maine coon cat in leash and harness walking in the city park

When you think of leashes, dogs come to mind more so than cats. Most cats are independent and create their own world for fun and exercise, such as scratching on a scratching post, playing with toys and puzzles, romping around on a cat condo, or gazing out the window from a windowsill. So, what about taking your cat out on a leash? Is it cruel? Or will your cat enjoy it?

You can certainly take your cat out on a leash, but whether or not your cat will be a willing participant is up to your cat. Read on to learn more!

Can I Take My Cat Out on a Leash?

bengal cat on a leash
Image Credit: Amerigo_images, Shutterstock

Cats naturally love the outdoors, but for cats that are strictly indoors, a cat owner may wonder if it’s okay to take their cat out for a walk with a leash on a beautiful day. You can take your cat out on a leash, but you must train your cat first. Training a cat to walk on a leash is not as easy as it is with dogs, but it can be done.

Cats can benefit from going on walks. Such benefits include working the muscles, stimulating the mind, and strengthening the bones. Taking your cat outside for a walk stimulates the senses and gives her excellent mental and physical exercises more so than being cooped up indoors 24/7.

Is It Cruel to Take My Cat Out on a Leash?

Taking your cat out on a leash would be considered cruel if your cat wants no part of the leash and the walk. Dragging your cat along would be cruel, and not providing a harness but rather just a collar for the leash to be attached to would also be considered cruel. Your cat should be comfortable, and a leash attached to a collar could cause throat irritation or worse if your cat fights to be on the leash or spots something to chase. If you plan on taking your cat for a walk, always use a cat harness for leash attachment.

Cats need exercise and enrichment to stay happy and healthy, and walking them on a leash can be a great way to do both.

hepper harness and leash set

Our Hepper Cat Harness & Leash Set combines a sturdy nylon climbing rope leash with a lightweight, highly adjustable harness. The machine-washable velvet and mesh harness is designed to be as comfortable as it is sturdy, and extra features like aluminum double D-rings, reinforced stitching, quick-release buckles, and reflective stripes make this cat walking set a great option. 

How Do I Train My Cat to Walk on a Leash?

Leash training your cat will take time and patience, but it can be done with the proper techniques and equipment designed for cats. That said, first things first—get your cat used to the harness! But how do you do that? With treats, of course! When placing the harness on your cat, give her a treat. Take the harness on and off slowly a few times. Each time your cat has the harness on without squirming, reward it with a treat. However, refrain from giving a treat when the harness is off.

Once you feel your cat is comfortable with the harness, attach the leash. Start out walking your cat indoors to get her used to the idea. Be sure to praise her with treats when she does not fight while having the harness and leash on. Repeat this step a few times for a few days.

An important tip—ensure the harness is not too tight or too loose so your cat isn’t uncomfortable and she cannot slip out.

After you feel your cat is comfortable, you can graduate to walking outdoors. Walk your cat to the door. After you open the door, toss a treat outside for your cat to go after; this will get your cat to walk through the door without stress. After your cat eats the treat, start walking. If your cat seems stressed or frightened, abort the mission and try again the next day. You may need to revert to the previous steps a bit longer before your cat is comfortable.

Once you get your cat outside without stress, reward it with treats, and always remember to bring treats with you on your walks!

cheetoh cat on a leash
Image Credit: Lux Blue, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

Cats can be trained to walk on a leash, but it takes time and patience for it to be successful. Never force your cat to walk on a leash, and be prepared for the possibility of your cat never accepting the idea. It may take several weeks to train your cat to walk on a leash, and some may pick up on the concept quicker than others.

Featured Image Credit: Goldeneden, Shutterstock

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