Teaching your indoor kitten to walk on a harness

Teaching your indoor kitten to walk on a harness

Education & Training

This is a step by step guide to training your kitten to walk on a harness. It is best to train your kitten slowly so as not to spook it. Please note that this may not work for your kitten, but it is worth trying, especially if you have a pedigree kitten or even a much-loved moggie! If you have two kittens, you will need two people to walk them or walk them separately. I tried walking my own pedigree kittens and it was successful until they became confident and wanted to explore. It was difficult when they went off in different directions. I often got into a tangle with the leads, which I am sure amused the neighbours. I would not recommend walking very young kittens, but you could still get them used to the harness. I started walking my kittens from about ten months old, before that, they were house cats. Be warned, your kitten may train you.

Getting Your Kitten used to wearing a harness

Choose a harness where the lead attaches to the body rather than the neck. Ensure that you can insert two fingers under the harness to create a comfortable fit. Each time you put the harness on use a command like 'walkies'. This is not essential, but it is fun when the kitten runs to the back door and waits for you to put the harness on. This will take a while to happen.Put the harness on your kitten. The kitten may run around trying to fling it off or walk as if it has an elephant standing on its back. The kitten's belly may touch the floor as it walks as though it is a very heavy harness. Try not to laugh and speak to your kitten in an encouraging way to reassure it. As this is the first attempt, take the harness off after a few minutes and give your kitten a reward, either by giving it a big cuddle or a favourite treat. Do this every day and increase the amount of time, until it is used to wearing the harness.Attach the lead and walk around the house with your kitten. Don't expect to be able to walk your kitten like a dog. Follow your kitten around the house and go wherever he or she wishes to go. You may be able to progress to guiding the kitten to where you wish to go. Note that this does not always work, therefore expect to follow the kitten. When the lead goes taut, the kitten will either sit down or strain at the lead. Praise it when it waits for you to catch up to discourage pulling. Never jerk the lead, as this will hurt the kitten. Pick the kitten up and turn it if you need to change direction. Always give constant praise and carry your kitten's favourite treats with you.

The First Look at the Great Outdoors

Put the harness on your kitten and attach the lead. Carry your kitten to your back door and open it. This exercise is simply to show your kitten the great outdoors. Do not take your kitten straight into the garden as it will be scared if it has never been outside. If your kitten shows any sign of nervousness take it back inside. It will probably shake or shiver and may just climb over your shoulder and run into the house. Kittens can be very fast and if it is panicked, it may leap out of your arms and become tangled in the lead or slip the harness. Take a couple of steps and show the kitten around, then bring it back inside and take the harness off. Don't forget to praise your kitten. Continue doing this every day, increasing the time and distance from the house.

Time for Walkies

As soon as your kitten is confident, put it on the grass and let it sniff. It may just run back into the house. Progress will be slow at first and the kitten will run to the safety of the house at any noise, such as a neighbour shutting a door or window, or a gust of wind that ripples its fur. Be prepared to run back to the house with the kitten and try not to let go of the lead. Only let go of the lead if you know your kitten will run straight into the house - it may be too fast for you to keep up! It will not be long until your kitten gains confidence and gets used to walking around the garden on a lead. If your kitten pulls, stand still and ignore it. When he or she sits down, give praise and begin walking. Do this each time your kitten tries to leap away.

Does Harness Walking Work?

Harness walking did not work for me. One of my adventurous kittens wished to leap up fences. I had to peel its claws off the top of the fence before he went over it. It became dangerous due to the fence leaping. I was worried in case the lead caught on the fence as my kitten leapt over it. He also began to stage sit ins. He refused to budge unless I took the lead off. Therefore, I ended up taking the lead off, changing to collars and a cat run. He still runs to the back door when I shout walkies and waits for me to put the collar on. When I take his collar off he knows it is time to stay in. I believe that my kitten trained me in the end. Do try it, but keep them away from fences and walk one kitten at a time. Kittens and cats can be trained. Do not put one kitten's lead under a chair to hold it while you walk the other kitten. You might find that you also have a kitten that can slip the harness. Good luck.



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