Most cats are pretty independent. They like to laze around the house, occasionally chase something, and eat whenever they find food.
Unfortunately, all this inactivity and extra food can lead to an overweight and unhealthy cat. As a Little Rock vet clinic, we are often advising our clients to give their cats more activity.
This doesn’t mean letting them run outside unattended. This can lead to serious injury and even death. Instead, you might consider trying to leash train a cat.
Yes, cats can be trained! Here’s how you do it.
Know Your Cat’s Temperament
Not every cat is going to take to leash training. Be sure you’re patient, though. You can’t simply throw a harness on a cat one day and expect them to quickly adapt. You have to take some extra steps.
You’ll probably have more luck with a kitten than an older cat. Like us, cats can get set in their ways as they get older and are less interested in new experiences.
However, if your cat simply won’t have it, you won’t be able to exercise them in this way. One tip we can give you as your vet clinic is to take advantage of wire or string toys. Often these will excite your cat enough to get them jumping and playing.
Get the Right Harness
Some cat owners start off on the wrong foot right away by grabbing a dog harness and hoping for the best. Unfortunately cats are more agile and tricky than dogs, and can quickly slip out of the wrong harness.
If your cat gets away, you run the risk that they can get hit by a car, attacked by an animal, or otherwise injured. We don’t want to see you at the vet clinic for an emergency – get the right harness at the beginning.
Measure the cat around his chest, stomach, and behind the front legs. This will help you determine what size harness to get. Start with one type, and if it doesn’t seem right, consider a different configuration.
Practice at Home
Cats want to know the details of everything they interact with, so let them sniff the harness and investigate it in their own way. Then, put it on the cat and let them walk around your house.
Notice if they seem comfortable or if they are wiggling out of the harness. You want to maximize safety and minimize any chance of injury that would land your friend in the vet clinic.
Next, practice attaching the leash and walking inside. The leash may frighten your cat, as it may appear snake-like to them, so have patience. Bring out the treats, head scratches, and other positive reinforcement.
Be sure you start your outdoor walking adventures in a quiet, semi-private spot. You want the cat to feel comfortable and safe.
Have a towel handy in case something goes wrong and you need to wrap up the cat and head back inside. Keep the first trip short.
Over time, you can experiment with longer walks and other adventures. Stay prepared – you don’t always know how they will react if they see a dog, squirrel, or if it suddenly starts raining.
Keep Your Vet Clinic in Mind
If you have any questions or concerns about your cat and how to walk them safely, don’t be afraid to contact us. We’re happy to give advice and help you protect the health and safety of your pet.
If your cat needs its annual checkup or you’re concerned about an injury, contact us right away. You can make an appointment for anything from vaccinations to boarding to injury treatment. Your Little Rock vet clinic is here for you!