Do you want to be able to take your cat outside or on walks and know they will stay safe under your supervision? Harness training your cat is a fantastic way to allow them some outdoor freedom. While it’s easier to train a younger cat, it is still achievable for the older cats in your life. Winter is the perfect time to get your feline friend used to the harness in their familiar indoor. We have five simple points to get your cat used to wearing and moving around in their harness.
Introducing the Harness
It’s best to let cats explore new items on their own. Simply lay the harness on the floor and let you cat familiarize themselves with it. Be sure to make the first interaction with the harness a positive one, by leaving treats or catnip nearby!
Wearing the harness
After your cat seems comfortable with the harness, the next step is to get them used to wearing it. Start by simply draping the harness over your cats back, offer treats to encourage positive reinforcement. If they’re quick to shake it off or seem uncomfortable, give them a break, and try it again later. Continue doing this until you can put the harness on your cat. Keep the fit loose at first.
Moving around in the harness
Now that your cat is wearing the harness, they may have just flopped over and seem immobile. This is a common reaction to the experience, as they haven’t been able to fully determine if the harness is a threat. Give your cat as long as they need to adjust. If they haven’t gotten up after 15 minutes, take the harness off, offer a treat, and try again the next day. If they are up and moving offer a treat, pull out the cat toys they love, and allow your cat to adapt to the new harness. This can be a slow process and your fur-baby may have “sea legs” as the harness touches many different points on their body at once. Limit training sessions to 15 minutes total per day until they get used to it.
*Laser pointers and feather wands are great toys to get them moving quickly!
Properly fitting the harness
As you go through the sessions of getting your cat used to wearing and moving around in the harness, be sure to adjust the size each time to help bring it to the proper fit. A properly fitting harness should be snug, not allowing your cat to get out on their own, and still having full mobility. Following the standard rule of being able to fit 1-2 fingers underneath works well. Be sure to check the fit regularly as cats will sometimes tense up their muscles allowing the fit to seem much larger than needed.
Time for the leash
Now that you have your cat used to wearing and moving around in the harness the last step is to attach the lead/leash. This can be the longest part for your cat to get used to. Many cats don’t tend to respond to various levels of pressure and pull from the lead at first. A cat wants to go where a cat wants to go. Love and treats are helpful in reinforcing the positivity behind following the lead’s pressure.
While harness training your cat can be a slow process, it is highly rewarding for both you and your feline friend. Being able to enjoy the outdoors together safely and confidently makes the process worth it! If you have any questions about the styles of harnesses available, the type of lead or leash you should use, and the best treats for training, feel free to give us a call or visit us in store.
Not sure what toys suit you cat's playstyle best? Check out this article : Understanding Your Cat's Playstyle