Before the Harness and Leash
Before you begin, make sure your cat is safe to go outside. She needs to have all vaccinations up to date. It’s also best to start this process when your cat is young and not afraid of the outdoors or loud noises. Ideally, your cat should already be responsive to you and come when you call her name. Talk with your vet about getting your cat to respond when you call.
The next step is to choose a proper harness. A simple collar will not do—you might attach the leash to it and fit the collar snugly to your cat’s neck, but there’s still a chance she can escape or be choked by the leash and collar combination. Pick a harness that is specifically designed for cats. Make sure it is adjustable, comfortable, and has an attachment for a leash between the shoulders, not at the neck. This will prevent any choking hazard and allow you to safely control your feline. Check with your vet to ensure you’ve bought a good quality harness.
Introducing the Harness
Once you have the harness, you need to introduce it to kitty. This will be the hard part—it may take weeks or even months to get your cat acclimated to the harness. Allow your cat to see, smell, and touch the harness before trying it on. When she’s used to it, fit the harness loosely onto her body and let it there for a few minutes. If she struggles and attempts to get out, let her and try again later. Use treats and a lot of praise to help her associate good things with the harness. Eventually, she should get used to wearing it, and you can move on to attaching the leash and going on the walk.
Introducing the Leash
Try attaching the leash to the harness, then letting your cat wander around, dragging the leash. This will help her get used to the weight and feel of the leash. Make sure to not let your cat get tangled up in anything, though. Next, take the leash in your hand and walk your cat around inside your house.
Eventually, when your cat is used to being walked with the leash, try taking a small venture outdoors. Don’t go far from home—it’s a good idea to just stay in your yard at first. Gradually increase the time and distance of your walks, eventually going around the block or to the end of the street. Check with your Farmington Hills vet to make sure you’re not overworking your cat.
Try to choose safe and quiet areas to walk. Do your best to avoid aggressive or inquisitive dogs, as your cat may become frightened and associate that feeling with walks. Be consistent with walking times—it will give your cat something to look forward to. With patience, diligence, and lots of love, you can get your cat to take walks with you, and even start to look forward to walking time each day.