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Unusual reaction to harness training?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi all... I searched the threads on harness training, but couldn't find another cat who had been behaving in the way ours is, so here's the situation... Hubby and I are trying to harness-train Leo, our 2yo Aby mix, so that we can take her outside for supervised play; we got her from the shelter last weekend. She has a beautiful personality and has been the very picture of calm and sweetness ever since. We bought a Roman style harness and, with only a little angst, managed to get her in it. We figured we'd just leave it on her until she gets used to it. She's not biting at it, or trying to tear it off, but it's the weirdest thing - she won't walk normally. She hangs very close to the ground and keeps her back bent downwards toward the floor. If she lays down, she acts like she has problems getting up. It's like we've stapled her to the floor! She will to some degree chase her foil balls and such, but her gait and posture are clearly impacted. Mostly it seems she prefers to lay there and suffer her fate in silence. *sigh*

Are we doing something wrong? The harness is definitely on her in the correct orientation and is the proper size, and we actually made it a bit too loose on her so that she could get used to it before we tightened it appropriately to go on the leash. You can easily get 4 fingers between it and her skin. It's been over 24 hours and the odd behavior hasn't let up yet. She's still eating and using her litter box as she has been, and I just had her at the vet for a complete checkup on Friday, so I know she's not ill. We did take the harness off of her for a brief period and she went 100% back to normal. Any suggestions?
post #2 of 12
I'd just put it on her a few times a day. Some cats take longer to adjust.

My first cat, Mitten, acted the same way. I had a figure 8 harness on him (actually one used for rabbits) and remember when he first had it on, he just layed down and refused to move. Took him probably a week to get used to wearing it. I'd put it on for 10-15 mins, take it off, then later do same thing.

I liked the figure 8 harness as he could not get out of it and it was covered with soft cloth on the back so no damage to the fur from rubbing.
post #3 of 12
That is a normal reaction. The cat thinks it's touching something, so it scrunches down to get under it, but it keeps pressing on him.

You can do the same thing with a piece of tape, by the way, just to see how the natural reaction works.
post #4 of 12
Oh yeah, Monster did that the few times i put a harness on him. Mittens too, only it was her previous owner(my boss) who put it on her.
post #5 of 12
See if this video explains, or at least demonstrates, a few things:

Cats and tape
post #6 of 12
Thanks for that video MrBlanche, it gave me a great laugh. Cats are so funny.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
LOL! Wonderful! Thanks for the reassurance that my cat isn't nuts! She's getting better with it... will give the gal as much time as she needs.
post #8 of 12
Wow, I just put a harness on my cat for the first time today, & she's doing the same thing...I was going to ask about it here! I even took it off of her about 20 minutes ago, because I thought maybe something was hurting her.

Glad this thread was here, helped me out too!
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Glad to help, Angi!!! And thanks again mrblanche for posting that video. What a fascinating insight into instinctive cat behaviors.
post #10 of 12
The first time I put a harness on Riley he hurled himself backwards onto the floor on his back so hard I thought he would break something! He got used to it though and would wear it, but would never "walk" on the leash so I gave up, lol.
post #11 of 12
One of our former cats, Smog, my parents tried to harness train. They got a special one from the pet store that was guaranteed escape-proof.


They put it on Smog. He hunkered down, then leapt straight up, turned a sommersault in mid-air, and came down on all fours; the harness landed next to him.
post #12 of 12
My cat does the same thing, I just call him slinky-cat. He'll get used to it eventually.
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