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harnesses and leashes...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have two Blue Siamese kittens 51/2 months old and I am going to keep them indoors. I would like to start leash training them.I would appreciate some tips on getting them used to a harness (how to choose a good one), a leash (how long), and how to train them to walk on a leash. Any literature you suggest would be helpful.
post #2 of 15
I'm afraid I have no experience on that one. As for literature, "Think Like a Cat" by Pam Jonson-Bennett has a good review of the procedure (as well as any other aspect of cat care). You can find it through the bookshop in this site -
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you,
I will check out the local bookstore and see what I find. I will keep you posted on anything useful.
post #4 of 15
I've heard to put the harness on and let the cat get used to that before you add the leash. I recently tried a harness and leash with my 4 year old cat to get him to the vet, because there was no way I was going to get him into the crate. I carried him, but he didn't object to the set-up, and he hates anything like this usually.
post #5 of 15
Hi! My cat Pique walks on a leash like a dog. He's a 6 month old apricot tabby who was born under a friends' house to a feral mother. He was the one kitten in the litter who wasn't scared of people--in fact he followed my friend all over! I decided we were meant to be, and now he lives with me. He is an "indoor Kitty", but I bought a small harness and leash and started working with him--luring him to walk with bits of meat, and suddenly he sort of "got it". Now we walk every day with his dog sister and he strolls along with his tail sticking straight up! Sometimes I have to carry him if the walk is long, but he usually manages fine. Just start working really early with your kittens and they will learn!
post #6 of 15
Here's my 2 cents. I don't walk my babies on leashes but I do put a harness on them when I take them to cat shows. You see, I travel alot with them and in order for them to go through the security area of the airport, I take them out of the carrier. With the harness on, I'm not too scared that they will run off. Once back in the carrier, I take off the harness. If they jump out of my arms, they are on a harness and can't run around the airport. As for the harness, it's one that they use for ferrets or rabbits and it's one piece. I will try and get you the brand name for it if you would like. Good luck. Just remember Siamese have skinny heads and you will want to make sure that they cannot get out of the harness. You see, my two that I take to shows with me is an Aby and Oritental Shorthair (a colored in Siamese).

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the info. I have read a couple of things on the internet about leash training and the book Think like a Cat (very good for general care info), and it basically comes down to getting them familiar with wearing the harness and leash. My problem in choosing a harness is I know they are still growing and I am not sure how small/large a harness I should go with. My female Bella 7lbs. and male Max 10lbs. are 6 months, so I know within the next 6 months they will gain about another 3 lbs.
Frannie,the brand of the harness you use for your cats would be greatly appreciated, is it adjustable?
post #8 of 15
Yes, the harness I use is completely adjustable. My cats don't even know it's on. I believe it's made by Four Paws (but I will check at the store this week) and comes on a card board that's shaped like a cat showing how to wear the harness. I promise I will get back to you by the weekend. I've had many compliments about these harnesses as some of my friends wonder how I travel with them to the cat shows and am not afraid of them getting loose in the airport. I tell them how I do it, and some of them also took my suggestion and now do the same thing. I will get back to you, promise.

post #9 of 15
Here are some suggestions I pulled from another website.

The first thing to do is to get your kitty used to the Walking Jacket. Be very patient and persistent, and
reward your cat lovingly. Yelling, hitting or rough treatment will only teach your cat to fear you. Remember,
too, that each cat is as unique as each one of us, and will react differently. The optimum age to start
leash/harness training is six to seven months of age. If you have your cat spayed/neutered first, this will
enhance its concentration and decrease the hormonal desire to roam. Purchase an identification tag at the
same time as the jacket, and have it engraved with your daytime and nighttime phone numbers, including
area code. Place the harness with the identification tag and leash where your cat can sniff, paw and play
with them. Simply put the jacket down beside your cat, and let him jump, squirm, roll and paw at it if he
wishes. Don't encourage the behavior by laughing or trying to soothe him. Do not reprimand him either. It's
best to just ignore him and let him get used to the items in his own time and way.

After several days, gently, but firmly, put the jacket on the cat -- allow two fingers width at the neck and
stomach (do not attach the leash yet). Often, the best results come when this is attempted just before
feeding. At this point, the cat may exhibit abnormal behavior, such as running around the room or lying on
its side and acting as though it can no longer stand. As long as the cat is in safe surroundings, leave the
jacket on for five minutes. Repeat this several times a day for a week to ten days. It is very important that
your cat learn immediately to associate the jacket with going outdoors, so we recommend that you hold
your kitty and speak very calmly but with excitement to him, and carry him out your back door, or even just
hold him up to a window, etc. You can also provide some distraction such as playing with him or offering
food to get his mind off the harness. Consistency and patience are the keys here to success. Cats are
creatures of habit, and you are establishing the important foundation that your cat will come to expect
whenever your bring out his Walking Jacket in the future.

Once your cat is comfortable with the jacket and accepts it, he won't even know it's there, and you can
attach the identification tag and leash. Let the cat drag the leash around the house for several minutes at a
time, several times a day, for another few days, and continue to hold your kitty reassuringly and take him
outside each time he wears the jacket, even if it's just on your front patio. Be sure to supervise your cat to
avoid him becoming tangled and frightened. Once your cat has accepted his part, pick up the leash and just
hold onto it. The cat must now realize he has some restraints placed upon him. While gently pulling on the
leash, offer food (Gerber's baby food on your finger is a wonderful and special treat for training times like
this) and say the word 'come'. Once again, be patient, persistent and loving. Remember, cats usually will
not walk on a leash like a dog. Cats tend to like to run a bit, stop, roll, sniff an area, eat grass and then carry on.

For your first walks, try starting in the late evening or early in the morning in a quiet area. Your cat is
much more likely to venture out when there's no one else around. Chances are very good that once he gets
to sit outside on the cool grass and sniff the fresh air, he'll understand what the idea is all about, and will
quickly learn to associate his Walking Jacket with this new adventure. Most cats take a few days to adjust to
the idea of leash walking.

Most leash pulling behavior begins as soon as the cat sees the leash and knows he's about to go for a
walk. If the walk begins out of control, the precedent is set for the entire walk. Before expecting your cat to
calmly walk beside you on leash, he must be calm when you are putting his jacket and leash on, so it is
well worth it to you to spend as much time as you and your cat need with the initial training and having
your cat just get used to the jacket and firmly associating the jacket with the pleasure of the outdoors, your
attention, and the fact that this is a treat worth looking forward to!! Ask him to stay while you are putting on
his jacket and leash. If he does not stay, the walk should be delayed until he does. Don't give in (but stay
calm and do not get angry) or he will learn that it's OK to be out of control.

Simply hold onto the leash, stand still and let your cat dance, ricochet and bounce around at the end of
the leash. It may take 5 minutes or more, but he will soon realize that you are not going anywhere and will
begin to calm down. When this happens, praise him for being good. After another minute or so, take your
first step, but NOT towards the door. Instead, walk your cat around your house, garage or yard to give him a
chance to practice his 'not-pulling' skills. Every time he lunges or strains on the leash, simply stand still
again. When he calms down, talk to him, praise him calmly and quietly, and give him a dab of baby food
on your finger. When you feel that your kitty is in control and he is walking nicely without pulling in your
house or yard, then it is time to proceed to the great outdoors. Every time your cat pulls on leash and you
continue the walk, you are rewarding his behavior. Every time your cat gets out of control it is important
that you instantly stop the walk, stand still and wait for him to calm down before continuing. It is a
tremendous effort in patience at first but it will pay off if you persevere. You may only get to the end of the
block or even your driveway on your first outing, but if you give in to your cat's demands, then he will
continue to pull on the leash. But, please remember that a cat is very different from a dog, and you will be
learning together what behavior of your cat is acceptable behavior to you, yet allows for you and your cat to have an enjoyable outdoor adventure together.

You can try using lures and praise to keep your kitty close to you, but do not drag your cat back to your
side. Use a quick tug on the leash, then immediately release so the leash is slack again. Instead of trying to
correct your cat after he is already pulling, do not give him the opportunity to pull. If he never pulls, he will
never learn to pull. You should try to correct him BEFORE he pulls! It is perfectly fine to give your feline lots
of practice getting used to walking on leash in his own home, since it is a familiar environment with
minimal distractions. When he is comfortable indoors, try going outdoors again. Again, begin in an area
with few distractions such as your front or back yard, and at a quiet time of day. When the two of you have
mastered this, you are ready for places where there are more distractions. This exercise won't be difficult,
since you've both had lots of practice beforehand at getting it right.

If your cat starts biting and chewing the leash, try applying a product like Bitter Apple or Tabasco sauce
or some other unpleasant tasting (but non-harmful) substance to the leash. Reapply before every outing until your cat has lost interest in chewing on the leash. Although it takes patience, an outdoor cat can be turned into a perfectly content indoor pet. The key is to make the conversion gradually and provide lots of attention and stimulation while the cat is indoors. Teaching your cat to go on walks with you is also a wonderful means of providing stimulus, a safe outdoor environment for limited time, and positive reinforcement with plenty of time and attention from you. You must be careful to slowly replace your cat's old routine of going outside with the new and "exciting" routine
of staying in. Any change in a cats environment or habits can be extremely stressful to the cat. If your cat is
outdoors most of the time, bring your cat inside for increasingly longer stays. Gradually shorten the length
of time the cat is outside until you no longer let him or her out at all, with the exception of the times that
you and your cat go on walks together. Cats really do need human companionship to be happiest, and when they spend all their time out of doors, they get very little attention. An outdoor cat may welcome the indoors if he or she gets more love, attention, and play. Provide plenty of things to keep your cat occupied indoors such as secure cat furniture which offer acceptable and interesting places for your cat to lounge, play and scratch, and hopefully be able to look out a window. You should also provide scratching posts,
corrugated cardboard or sisal rope for your cat to scratch and be sure to praise your cat for using them. Cats
also love toys of all varieties, and some also enjoy fresh greens. You can buy kits that include containers
and seeds to grow, or plant pesticide-free alfalfa, grass, bird seed, or catnip in your own container. This
way, your cat can "graze" safely and not destroy your house plants.

If, after all these efforts, your cat remains stubbornly committed to life outdoors, help him or her adjust by providing an outdoor covered enclosure or run that the cat can access through a window or pet door.
Such a facility gives the cat some of the advantages of being outside while minimizing the dangers. You
can make the outdoor enclosure interesting and appealing by adding objects for the cat to explore, such as tree limbs, multilevel cat condos, tires, toys hanging from branches, and boxes in which the cat can curl up or hide. And, don't forget the leash-training and walking your cat!! Remember, when cats become a nuisance, it is the cat's owners who are at fault.

Good Luck
post #10 of 15
Thank you for the information! We are going to try breaking our 9 year old cat to the harness so he can travel with my husband and I in our '67 Camaro (my husband won't allow my 120lb dog to go with =( says he puts nose prints on the windows <grin>) Mort (cat) needs to loose weight and this will be worth the try!

Thanks again!

Heather V. Havel
Michigan - USA
post #11 of 15
Got this today in a petsmart email:

post #12 of 15
I got Sateycat an "H-shaped" cat harness, for when I take him to the vet or have to take him out in the car for whatever reason. This harness does not work at all for him, so I recommend trying a "Figure-8" harness.
When Satey went to the vet recently for his checkup, I just clipped the leash to his new collar, which is not a breakaway (I know cats should have breakaway collars, but he's never anywhere where he could hang himself and the collars break away too easily when he scratches his neck) After we get settled in the car, my sister will let Satey out of his carrier and he will look out the windows on the sides of the back seat. He bawls and bawls if we leave him in the carrier (I swear he has Meezer in him!) But we always put him back in before opening any car doors at the vet's ofice (Petsmart/Banfield). And after the receptionist weighed him, and we had to wait around for our appointment, I sat Satey in the shopping cart and he was just fine with just the collar and leash. But I wouldn't reccommend this if you want to walk your cat!
post #13 of 15
We've been 'walking' three of our cats on the figure 8 harness this week, boy do these figure 8s work a bunch better than the H harnesses!!
post #14 of 15
Pique walks beautifully on the leash now...he is 8 mos old and we walk every evening. I find eveing is better because there are not as mny birds and squireels to distract him. He meows and meows each night until I take him out and eagerly waits while I harness him up and off we go! I sometimes have to gently "nudge" him if he gets distracted by a rustling leaf or a noise, but he trots along quite well. You should see the poeple passing by in cars--they stare in amazement!!
post #15 of 15
I have to print this thread out! It's Great:laughing2 it just answered my question that I posted in the Collar thread! Thanks in advanced
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