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Training cats to wear collar and to use leash?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Problem Number 1: Collars

My cats don't wear a collar. They never have, they are calm kitties that rarely go on the roof and on very few occassions have I seem them outside of my backyard. BTW the 5 of them are outdoor cats.

There was never a reason to buy them a collar, they are all fixed, all calm and they always hang out in my back yard instead of going anywhere else.
I live in a very quiet street too.

I had a bad experience with a collar once. Tom (RIP) used a collar when he was a kitten and one night I saw him choking because he was trying to get the collar out.. since then I never bought anopther collar for him or any of my cats.

so anyways.. I'm moving houses. I'm doing my research and getting ready for the big move (I've posted about it on other occassions in TCS). I'm worried about my cats and I want to make life easier for them when we have to move.

One thing I want to do is get the 5 of them a collar with a name tag. The street we'll be living in is a very calm one but this is "new territory" and I'ld rather have them with a name and address in case anything unfortunate happens.

I bought 2 collars yesterday. Put them on 2 of my cats for 15 minutes.
They hated it! how am I going to get them used to it? they tried to get it off or moved their head in a funny way because it seemed to bother them.
The collars were very lose (in case you are wondering).
I petted them, talked to them, scratched their neck but they didn't seem pleased at all.

How to train them to get used to using a collar?

Problem number 2: the leash
I also bought a leash. My idea is that after a few weeks I'm slowly going to let them explore the outside of the house (I mean the yard).
At first I want them to be on a leash to avoid them running away.
it seems like a good idea but so far I've had no luck.
When I put the leash on one cat she lay on the floor and started playing with it and then moved her head in a funny way because the collar was bothering her
When I put it on another cat he got histerical! He started running (at this point I let go of the leash because I was scared I'ld strangle him if he was running).
he ran like mad with the leash on.. I felt so bad.. so guilty.. I didn't understand his reaction. He finally went into a bedroom. I closed the door and took the leash off... and thats when he calmed down.

so.. what do I do? I don't want my cats to suffer! I don't want to scare them, I'm just trying to find ways to make the move easier.

how do you train a cat to wear a leash?

thanks for reading.
my 5 kitties and I appreciate it inmensely.
we need to make a move the least stresful as possible
post #2 of 11
OK - first of all you say you had the collars loose - that is not a good thing as a cat can get his paw stuck under it and get into serious trouble. There is a correct tightness for the collar, I am not sure what it is though as my cats don't wear them, but someone will almost certainly be along to advise you soon!

Secondly, you need to get safety (breakaway) collars that will break should the cat get caught up in anything, otherwise the cat could be strangled.

Thirdly, they will get used to wearing them eventually, as with anything else you have to give them time!

And lastly, please please please do not attach a leash to a collar that goes around the neck. Cats are not dogs, and this is very dangerous! If you want to take a cat for a walk, you should get a harness to attach the leash to, not ever a collar! Harnesses also require time for the cat to get used to them, and some cats never take to going for walks on a leash!

post #3 of 11
I can only answer #1. You must NOT put the collars on very loosely, as that is exactly how they can get caught on things.

Both my babies wear collars 24/7, and they are tight, but loose enough for me to slide 3 fingers underneath. This way they won't get caught on anything, but tight enough that they can't get their lower jaw caught underneath it either.

Ginger hated hers at first. I would put it on her for an hour at first, then several hours, then just left it on. As soon as she figured out that she wasn't going to be able to remove it, she stopped trying.

Ferris took to his like he was born with it on and is darned proud to wear one. I think that he thinks that it is a sign of belonging.
post #4 of 11
The rule of thumb is to be able to get one finger under the collar and no more (it shouldn't be a struggle to do it though). Secondly, a harness with two 'collars', one around the neck and the other in back of the front legs, attached by a little strip on top (that also has a ring for leash hook-ups) is what you need (as has been said) but if all you want is a collar with I.D. on it in case of an 'escape', then do make sure it's a 'breakaway' one. IF you use the harness, let them wear it around the house for short times for a few days til they're used to it (not fighting it) then hook up the leash indoors and take them out. Don't try to walk them, let them walk you (a lot of time may be spent on sniffing hedges, etc.). Make sure your whole hand is through the loop in case of unexpected noises, dogs, etc. that could set your cat off running somewhere.
post #5 of 11
I'd suggest chipping the cats if it's in your budget to. Then, instead of your name & address on the tags make a note that the cat is chipped and provide your vet's contact info. Even if you don't chip they I still would recomend providing your vet's contact info instead of yours for the simple fact that you don't want strangers knowing your name and where you live should they find your cat. Beyond that I don't have anything to add.
post #6 of 11
Yes, definitely get a harness to use with the leash. Preferably a "cat" harness.

I only tried the harness/leash thing out on one of my cats. Leopold LOVED it. He would come running to the door when he saw it or heard the jingle of the clasp. Once he learned what it meant (going outside) he also sat nicely and waited for me to get it on him and adjusted. But, he was horrible about trying to get away from me once we were out. He just wanted to go out, he didn't want to follow any rules...ie to stay with me and not run under bushes, pulling me by the leash. With some work, I'm sure he was trainable but the novelty wore off (for me) very quickly.

And a warning, you don't want the harness too tight either, but if it's too loose they will EASILY walk backwards to do a Houdini type escape from it.
post #7 of 11
I have always had a collar on my cats, and I have always allowed for one finger spacing for breathing purposes. My cats have never shown any resentment to it. There are break away ones available, if you want one for each feline friend, try petsmart. They have them where you can get info put on it, and shipped to you. Just an idea.
As for the harness, I have trained a 4 yr old cat and 2 7month olds in harnesses. The 4yr old would react to it for the first little bit, but try feeding the cats food and or treats with it on. Have it on for a short period of time at first, then start to increase the time, soon they will become used to it. My 2 7 month olds have a harness on 24/7. It helps me control them when someone is at the door, as I live in an apartment building. I use the same guideline as the collar for the harness, and it works well. They will get used to the harness in time. They even go for walks too outside. Hope it helps. Try treats and food with the harness to help them adjust to it. Once they figure out they are not restricted and it is not punishment, they will be fine.
But get a collar for each cat. In many places it is law. And a harness if you want to help control them running off at your new place. Best of luck. Let us know how you make out.
post #8 of 11
Where I live in Australia its law that cats are microchipped. I agree with whats been said so far.
Another idea that I heard of recently is to have your cats boarded or with friends before you pack up & move so as not to stress cats seeing you prepare to move. Have everything set up in new house 1st before bringing cats home. Restrict them to one room only for the 1st week with all their familiar things, food & water, litter,toys & bed in that room so they don't feel so different, keeping them inside for a least a month.
Have you thought of a cat enclosure with access to house so they can't escape but still have the feeling of being outside. Safe for them & native wildlife.
Good luck
post #9 of 11
I never had much of a problem getting Gizmo to ware a collar. I remeber he resisted a little at first but I simply left it on him and eventually he got use to it. As far as the leash/harness goes I'm afraid I can't give much advice on that. I tried this briefly with gizmo and it just didn't work out. He's a pretty skittish cat sometimes and even the smallest noises can freak him out. I can only imagine what the sound of a car going by, a horn honking or any kind of loud noise would do to him. He really shows no interest in being outside anyhow so I guess it's not a major loss.

Anyhow good luck with your fur babies.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
hey there my fellow cat lovers

thank you so much for taking the time to reply.
I've decided to give the leash to a friend that has a poodle. Maybe it'll be useful for her seeing that its definately not something I can use on my kitties. (next step is to by a harnees for cats )

I've been following the advice given and so far I've managed to succesfully get 2 of my cats used to the collar. Its a bit tighter (not extremely tight, just a little bit tighter) it seems that by leaving the collar a little tighter it bothered them less and now they barely seem to notice it.

About microchipping the cats.. you know what? I would LOVE to do that but its so expensive and by having 5 cats its practically impossible for me to get them all microchipped. Its a pity because it would bea great thing to do if I could afford it.
Putting the vets address on the tag instead of my own addy is a very good idea, thanks for the advice.

and thank you everyone for sharing every piece of advice. Its so nice to be able to count on other people that love their cats as much as I do and can share good and helpful experiences with me.

post #11 of 11
I agree with everyone, use a harness to put the leash on instead of a collar!! My sister had a bad thing happen with a collar and a leash! Let the cat wear the harness around the house first before putting a leash on them so they can get used to wearing it! Now for how to get a cat to wear a collar, I have no idea. I cannot get my cat to wear a collar no matter what. When I finally got him to wear a collar, a few weeks later he came back in without it on. I decided not to keep buying him collars since they always get lost.
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