Does your cat long to go outside? Have you ever wanted to take them out for a walk? Believe it or not, you can. Harness training a cat is easier than it seems. Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your feline friend. Let’s discuss how to harness train a cat and why you should.
What Is Harness Training A Cat, And Why Should You Do It?
Harness training is exactly what it sounds like. It’s training your cat to wear a harness.
Your cat can wear a harness if it’s something snug to help keep them calm from anxiety. Also, they can wear a harness for leash training.
You can bring your feline friend outside and even on walks.
So, the big question is, should pet parents harness train their cats? Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer to this. But, it doesn’t hurt to harness train your cat.
If you have an indoor cat that craves exploring the outdoor world, you can harness train them and bring them outside with you.
Also, it’s great for an older cat to sit outside on the patio with you on a warm, sunny day.
Not only do they get to explore safely, but going outside will also be a fun way for the two of you to bond.
Finally, allowing your cat some fresh air is excellent cat care.
If you want to harness train your cat, let’s discuss what you’ll need to do so.
What You’ll Need To Harness Train A Cat
You won’t need much to harness train a cat. But, first, you’ll need a harness that fits your cat well, and that’s comfortable.
When shopping for harnesses, get one that’s made specifically for cats.
Even if a small dog harness that fits your kitty, you’ll want something made for cats. Cats are more flexible than dogs, so they’ll easily slip out of a dog harness.
A good harness should have breathable fabric, such as mesh. It should also be form-fitting to your kitty.
For example, we recommend this mesh kitty harness you can get in various sizes and colors. Alternatively, you can check out this breathable wrap-around cat harness.
So, measure your cat before heading to the store or ordering online. If unsure, you can always order a couple of sizes to see which one your cat is more comfortable in.
Once you have a good harness, you’ll also need a cat leash. Some harnesses come with a leash as a package. However, we recommend getting a shorter leash to start. This will help keep your cat close to you as you train together.
Also, you’ll want to have cat treats on hand. Positive reinforcement is good, but most kitties are highly motivated by food.
When your cat is calm and walking well in their harness and on the leash, you can reward them with praise, pets, and yummy treats.
In addition, you’ll need ample space to work. You won’t train your cat to walk on a harness outside immediately. They’ll need to get used to it first.
Ensure plenty of room in the house for your cat to wander with the harness. Also, some cats might freak out, attempting to get the harness off. You’ll want to be sure there’s nothing around they’ll accidentally bump into and hurt themselves.
Finally, you need something money can’t buy: patience. Cats are more challenging to train than dogs. Also, every cat has different tolerances. So training your kitty to wear a harness and walk on a leash will take time.
How To Harness Train A Cat
Once you have everything you need for training, the real work begins. First, let’s go over what to do step-by-step.
Introduce The Harness
The first step is easy. Place the harness indoors, somewhere in the open where your kitty can see it and get used to its presence.
You can place the harness near their food bowl, where they frequently sleep, or somewhere in the open in a room your cat loves to hang out.
Your cat will explore the harness by inspecting it closely and sniffing it.
Over a couple of days, it’ll seem like your cat no longer cares about the harness. At this point, you know your cat is used to the harness being around.
Now you can move on to the next step.
Introduce What The Harness Sounds Like
For another two to three days, sit down by the harness and play with it. Jingle the rings where the leash is supposed to be attached.
Play with the buckle, zipper, or velcro (whichever one your harness has to fasten).
When you play with it, ensure your cat is in the room and paying attention to your actions. This will allow your cat to get used to what the harness sounds like.
They may even come near you to see what the fuss is all about. But, regardless, they’ll see how comfortable you are fiddling with the harness and know it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Put The Harness On Your Cat
Once your cat is used to the harness being around and they’re familiar with its sounds, you can try putting the harness on them.
You might be able to fasten it, or you might only get as far as draping it over your kitty.
Watch how your cat reacts. Remove it immediately if they start showing signs of anxiety, such as freezing in place, pulling away, or desperately trying to get the harness off.
Give them positive praise and try again in a few hours or the next day.
Over time, you’ll be able to keep the harness on for longer amounts of time.
Every time your cat wears the harness for a longer amount, give them a lot of praise, pets, and treats.
Encourage Walking In The Harness
Once your cat seems comfortable enough with the harness on, you can now encourage them to walk around the house. It’s not time to go outside just yet.
You can attach the leash to their harness to get them moving. Entice them to follow you with treats and praise them when they willingly walk around.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to attach a lead just yet and allow your cat to feel the sensation of walking with a harness, then you can encourage them to move on their own.
Do what you would with a leash attached. They might follow your treats or go off on their own, which is good too.
Enjoy The Fresh Air Together
Once you feel comfortable walking with your cat on a least and they seem comfortable as well, you can finally bring them outside.
Put their harness and leash on before opening the door. Also, stick some treats in your pocket (just in case).
Then, pick them up, open the door, and bring them outside.
It’s recommended to carry your cat outside to ensure it won’t dash out the door as soon as it’s open. Such behavior can occur with the leash on or off.
So, carrying your cat willingly outside is a good reinforcer you need to be with them.
Quick Harness Tips
Cats have a way of getting what they want. They know how to meow, get our attention, and look adorable so they can get an extra scoop of kibble.
If they enjoy walking outside, this will be no different. If they pester you and whine to go out, don’t put the harness on. Otherwise, you’ll reward them for the pestering behavior.
Wait for your cat to be calm and quiet. Also, you can choose a specific time of day to bring your cat out so they’ll be expecting when to go out.
Finally, never leave your cat outside unattended. You shouldn’t clasp the leash somewhere and assume your cat will stay put. You should always be by their side when outside.
For one reason, you’ll want to ensure that your cat doesn’t get into anything they’re not supposed to. And, you can keep an eye on them in case they’re close to slipping out of the harness.
Does Your Feline Friend Enjoy Wearing A Harness?
Have you tried harness training with your kitty before? How did it go? It’s a great way to bond with your cat. Also, it’ll allow them to get in touch with their wild cat and explore the outdoors.
Rachel Poli is a content writer and author, but her real job is being a stay-at-home pet mom. Her zoo currently consists of a dog, a cat, two turtles, and two fish tanks. She’s also an avid pet sitter for a few local families, caring for various animals.
After realizing how little information there is for pet sitters on the internet, Rachel decided to start her own animal website. She strives to educate pet parents and pet sitters about the overall care of our furry friends.