If your cat enjoys the outdoors and you want to find a compromise, try training your cat to accept a harness and a leash! A harness is safer than a collar because it is more difficult for a cat to wiggle out of one that’s properly fitted. First, get your cat used to wearing a harness indoors:
- The process is all about positive reinforcement – she should associate good things with wearing the harness. You can provide her favorite cat treats while she is wearing it, or put it on right before her mealtime to help her get used to the new sensation. Only leave it on for short periods of time until she’s more comfortable moving around the house in it.
- Once she is used to wearing the harness, attach a thin leash to the harness and let her drag it around so she gets used to the tension.
- After she’s comfortable with that, pick up the leash and see if you can get her to follow you in the house. You may use more cat treats or something that she really likes to help coax her to follow along.
- Once she is comfortable with all of the above steps, you can now go outside. Make sure the first few times you lead your cat outside are during quiet times of day, and start in the backyard or a place with less activity.
- To coax your cat to walk along with you, offer her special treats. You may also just sit someplace quiet in your yard, and let her explore while you hold on firmly to the end of the leash. Keep the first several sessions short – just 5 or 10 minutes – so she does not become overwhelmed, then you can work up to longer adventures.
Take into consideration that grass and woods may be more interesting to your cat than a concrete sidewalk, but be sure they’re up to date on their vaccines and flea preventative before exploring the great outdoors. Remember, never leave your cat outside unattended for his or her safety.
For more animal safety tips, visit wihumane.org!