Training Tip: Getting Your Cat to Wear a Harness

Does walking a cat on a leash seem odd to you? It might, but having your cat take a stroll outside in a supervised way is a great outlet for them. Walking your pet with a cat harness and leash makes sure that he is safe but also gives him an outlet to run and play. This can help reduce feline obesity as well as inside destruction from boredom.

Here are some ideas about teaching your cat to enjoy walking on a leash.

Baby Steps

Cats are far less accepting and adaptable to new things than dogs are. This doesn’t come as any surprise because cats, typically, are more independent and want to do their own thing. The easiest time to teach your cat how to be comfortable in a harness and on a leash is when they’re kittens but older cats can learn as well. The best way to do this is one step at a time making sure that he is comfortable with every new element you introduce.

The Harness and Leash

There are specially designed harness for cats and you want to make sure that the hook for the leash attachment is on the part of the harness laying on your cat’s back and not connected to a collar. The ASPCA recommends the Premier Gentle Leader® Come with Me Kitty and Bungee Leash which is supposed to be easy to use and adjust.

How to Do It

The first step to get your cat used to a harness and leash is to leave it in a place where he frequents like a favorite sleeping spot. After a few days, put your cat in your lap and take the harness and leash and set it right near both of you. Let your cat sniff the harness and leash as much as he wants. After your cat is comfortable with the whole idea of the harness and leash, gently drape it over his shoulders and back and let him get used to that feeling. Distract him with some treats and see if you can get the harness snapped on him. If he balks at this, give him time and keep trying. Never leave the harness on him if he’s upset or agitated.

Once your cat is used to the harness, let him wear and it around the house for a while. You could even put it on him first thing in the morning and take it off just before bed. Make sure you can get two fingers between it and his back and chest so he’s comfortable.

After he’s worn the harness for a while, attach the leash to the harness. Do this in a room where there aren’t many things that could snag on the leash and let him walk around with the leash dragging behind him. You may need to repeat this step for a number of days or even a couple of weeks. Don’t leave the leash on for longer than a few moments.

After he’s used to dragging the leash, pick it up and walk around the house with him. If your cat has been outside before, going outside with a harness and leash shouldn’t be a big issue. If, on the other hand, your cat has never been outside start in a quiet place and let him check things out his own pace.

You’ll be walking with your cat in your neighborhood in no time!


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