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Leash training...special harness??

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I'm going to start leash training Duncan, but I've heard that collars can sometimes be harmful to a cat's neck. Do I need to invest in a different kind of harness, if I'm going to be using a leash?

post #2 of 6
The best harness I have ever seen was here:


You most definitely want a harness over a collar because otherwise you could hurt your cat's neck with a lead. Most cats take you for a walk, not the other way around, and a harness is the safest way to go.
post #3 of 6
I bought Rosie a harness to walk her around the back yard and get to know the smells around her, just in incase she ever got out.

post #4 of 6
I worked on leash training Dori for a while, but she never wanted to actually walk on the leash. I had to carry her down the stairs to the grass and she would just crouch down in one place. I don't think she likes it outside much, she looked terrified. Wehn I was taking her out, I used a leash/harness combo I found at a pet store. It worked well for her because she was still small, but now I don't think it would work very well. I did like the jacket harnesses that Hissy linked, but I don't think Dori would allow me to put that thing on her.
post #5 of 6
Jim, I speak from experience, LOL!

First of all - MA, that jacket leash is also the best thing I've seen! I hate the figure-8s, I'm always worried about the cat choking if it freaks while outside. And the loop-harnesses - well - Lazlo jumped out of his and bolted. It was a horrible day in my life, and it was the second or third day he was with us. Just goes to show you the value of learning about this stuff BEFORE you try it!

Here's my story. Lazlo was our first rescue. We were caring for his family - they were living in a groundhog hole up in the forest behind our home. Apparently their mum started taking them on excursions, but we didn't know that's what was happening. Lazlo was left behind on the first one. After his crying for two days, our hearts melted, and despite Gary's - well - it wasn't an aversion to cats anymore, but let's call it misgivings about "owning" a cat - and my allergies to cats, we decided to bring him inside. If it didn't work out, we'd adopt him out.

He was crying and crying outside - we brought him in. He cried and cried inside. I assume he missed his family, but at the time we thought maybe he wanted outside (knowing next to nothing about cats). We bought a leash, put it on him, he didn't mind at all. Didn't seem to notice it was there. Being dog people growing up, we took him outside, set him on the lawn, and expected he'd be loving it.

Well - the big ol' Maine Coon stray we were caring for came trotting up just then, and she was NOT happy to see this kitten in "her" yard. Lazlo FREAKED - tried to run - but of course was constrained by the leash. He jumped at least as high as I am into the air - (5' 2") - and after a couple of leaps like that (in a matter of seconds) he was out of the leash and up into the woods. We did not have the opportunity to "grab" him before he bounded right out of the leash.

Lazlo's part of our crew (the grey tabby with a "coffee-stain" around the front of his mouth and nose ), and he's happily living inside now. I laid up by the groundhog burrow all afternoon - for HOURS, talking to him, crying and pleading. He finally got hungry enough to come over for a bite of chicken. I picked him up, he didn't struggle at all, and we brought him back inside. He never cried to go out again. Didn't even go near the door for close to a year.

Here's the lesson: the type of leash you use is VERY important. I think on an older cat (larger), the cat isn't nearly as likely to "bounce" out of the leash, but I'd be very choosey about what type of leash to use. I would not buy one that has two loops (for front & belly) connected together. I would not buy a figure-8. I like the one MA posted a link to.

You may already be familiar with how to do this, but just in case....

Cats are not dogs! They are territory oriented more than they are people oriented (most cats, anyway). So "walking" a cat most likely means starting with opening the door and letting them explore the steps or stoop or whatever the space right around your door is. Obviously it depends upon the personality of the cat. Some take right to it - others enjoy being outside, but it takes a while and you have to gradually "expand their territory." It starts with the area around the door. The next day it may include a few more feet. It could take weeks for the entire back yard to become "theirs."

I didn't know any of this and just trundled right into it.

I'm so glad you're taking the time to learn about it first! Don't do what we did, LOL!
post #6 of 6
Our cat goes out on his leash every day. As a kitten, he used a ferret harness, and then I tried a cat harness (figure 8), which he got out of in 3 seconds flat. I ordered an "extra large" Safkat harness (the one Hissy (M.A.) recommended) after measuring him, but found that it didn't fit properly, because JC is simply extra long. The holes for his legs were just too close together. Scrap that. Unfortunately, because it appeared to be the perfect solution. I use an adjustable dog harness for him now, but I have to be very careful that it fits snugly, because otherwise he slips out of it. You also have to be careful about leashes. Through trial and error, I've discovered that our 13.5 lb. cat can't break a leash for 50 - 75 lb. dogs. Leashes with smaller hooks/diameters don't last 10 minutes. (There's a reason for my using a "supercat" avatar - our cat also rearranges our heavy oak furniture with little trouble). In short, you might get lucky at first try, but don't be surprised if your cat manages to outwit the "perfect solution".
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