Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Lead

LAST UPDATED 23 October 2019

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever, BVSc (Hons)

Walking your indoor cat on a lead is a great way to allow them to explore the great outdoors safely. Most of us have tried it once, only to leave the lead at the back of a cupboard after our precious puss morphs into a furry chainsaw. If this is you, don't despair, with a change of perspective you and your feline friend will be stepping out in style in no time.

What you will need:

Small Harness

The safest way to walk your cat on a lead is to use a harness rather than a collar. Your cat is much less likely to slip out of a harness plus it's much more comfortable and safer for their neck.

Small Lead

If your harness doesn't come with its own lead, choose the finest one you can find with a lightweight clip to help minimise annoyance and discomfort - look for cat or puppy specific leads.

Training Treats

Pick out some tasty treats that your cat is really keen on - something which can be broken into small bite sized pieces. Look for treats with a flavour that your cat doesn't get very often to pique their interest.

Step 1

Starting indoors, get your cat used to the harness, leave it lying around for your few days so that they can have a smell and get a good look at it. Next, armed with some treats, try putting the harness on your cat. While you are fitting the harness give your cat plenty of treats so that they think it's a good thing. Once it's on, let your cat wear the harness while they roam around the house. Leave the lead attached so that they get used to feeling it dragging behind. Keep rewarding with treats!


Step 2

Once your cat is accustomed to wearing the harness, you can venture into the backyard. Holding the lead, allow your cat to sniff around a bit and decide which direction you are headed in. When your kitty starts to walk around give plenty of treats and praise! You should do this in an enclosed space free of loud noises and distractions at first.


Step 3

Over time you can gradually increase the distance that you cover together. When walking your cat don't drag or pull them, but allow them to explore at their own pace and in the direction that they choose.

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Walking on a leash is a great way to keep indoor cats stimulated and active. You might find that previously shy and timid cats build up a bit of confidence after their outdoor adventures! Just remember to work your cat up to walking on the lead slowly, the big wide world can be a scary place at first.