Start a Quote

How to train a cat to go on a lead

Cats are known for their independent and curious nature. But did you know that you can train your feline friend to go on a lead, just like a dog? Whether you want to take your cat for a walk in the park or simply give them a chance to explore the outdoors safely, teaching your cat to walk on a lead is a rewarding and fun endeavour. In this guide, we'll walk you through how to train your cat to go on a lead – in 5 simple steps.

Why train your cat to go on a lead?

Before we delve into the training process, it's important to understand the benefits of training your cat to walk on a lead. Here are some reasons why it can be a great idea:
Exercise and stimulation:
Cats need exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Taking your cat for a walk provides a change of scenery and a chance to explore new sights, sounds, and smells.
Walking your cat on a lead is an excellent way to strengthen your bond. It's quality one-on-one time that allows you to build trust and communication with your feline companion.
If you live in a busy neighbourhood or near a road, a lead can keep your cat safe and prevent them from wandering into potentially dangerous situations.
A lead gives you control over your cat's movements, which is especially helpful if your cat has a tendency to run off or if you want to keep them out of specific areas.

Supplies you'll need

Before you start training your cat to go on a lead, make sure you have the necessary supplies:
A cat-specific harness:
A well-fitting harness is essential. Avoid using a collar, as it can be dangerous for cats, especially when they pull or resist the lead.
A lightweight, retractable lead:
Opt for a lightweight lead that's not too long. Retractable leads work well because they provide some flexibility while maintaining control.
High-value treats:
Choose your cat's favourite treats to use as rewards during the training process.
Patience and persistence:
Training your cat may take time, so be prepared to be patient and persistent.

Step 1: Introduce the harness

The first step in training your cat to go on a lead is to introduce them to the harness. Follow these steps:
Place the harness near your cat's regular feeding area or in a spot where they like to hang out. This allows your cat to get used to the harness's presence without feeling pressured to wear it.
After a few days, gently drape the harness over your cat's back without fastening it. This lets your cat feel the harness's weight and become accustomed to the sensation.
When your cat seems comfortable with the harness on their back, try fastening it loosely. Keep it on for short periods while offering treats and praise. Make sure it's not too tight; you should be able to fit a finger between the harness and your cat's skin.
Gradually increase the time your cat spends in the harness over the course of a few days or weeks, ensuring that they remain calm and relaxed.

Step 2: Get your cat used to the lead

After successfully introducing the harness, it's time to introduce the lead. Here's how to do it:
Attach the lead to the harness and let your cat drag it around the house under your supervision. This will help your cat become accustomed to the feel of the lead and the weight of it.
While your cat is dragging the lead, engage them in play with their favourite toys. This creates positive associations with the lead.
Never leave your cat unsupervised with the lead on to prevent any accidents or tangles.

Step 3: Practice indoors

Before venturing outdoors, it's crucial to practise walking with your cat indoors. Follow these steps:
With the harness and lead on, start walking with your cat inside your home. Keep the lead loose and allow your cat to explore at their own pace.
Encourage your cat with treats and praise when they walk beside you or follow you.
Be patient and don't force your cat to walk if they seem anxious or hesitant. It's essential to make the experience positive and stress-free.

Step 4: Venture outdoors

Once your cat is comfortable walking indoors, it's time to take your training outdoors. Here's how to do it safely:
Choose a quiet and secure outdoor location for your first outing. A fenced backyard or a quiet park with minimal traffic is ideal.
Before you head out, ensure your cat's harness is secure but not too tight, and that the lead is attached properly.
Start by allowing your cat to explore the outdoor environment at their own pace. Let them sniff around and get used to the new sights and smells.
Offer treats and praise for positive behaviour. If your cat seems anxious or tries to retreat, don't force them to continue. Allow them to return indoors if they wish.

Step 5: Build confidence and consistency

The key to successful lead training is consistency and building your cat's confidence over time. Here's how to do it:
Gradually increase the duration of your outdoor walks, but always prioritise your cat's comfort. If your cat shows any signs of distress, end the walk and try again later.
Continue reinforcing positive behaviour with treats and praise. Encourage your cat to walk alongside you and explore the outdoor environment.
As your cat becomes more comfortable with outdoor walks, you can start exploring different locations and environments. Just remember to prioritise safety and your cat's comfort.
Be aware of your cat's body language. If they become agitated, scared, or overstimulated, it's time to head back indoors.

Create lasting memories

Training your cat to go on a lead is a rewarding endeavour that can enhance your bond and provide exercise and mental stimulation for your feline companion. It's important to be patient, and consistent, and prioritise your cat's comfort and safety throughout the training process.
Remember that not all cats will take to walking on a lead, and that's okay. Each cat has its own unique personality, and what's most important is the well-being and happiness of your furry friend. If your cat enjoys outdoor adventures on a lead, you'll both benefit from the experience and create lasting memories together.
Now you’ve got your moggy on a lead – it might be time to start thinking about keeping them safe in other ways. If you would like to compare top UK cat insurers, check out our free tool.