Taking indoor cats outside on a harness? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-15-2012, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Taking indoor cats outside on a harness?

Both my cats are indoor-only, so I'd really like to try to leash-train them and take them outdoors on a harness.

How many of you do/have done this? Was it difficult to get your cats to accept the harness? Do they walk with you like a dog, or do they just sort of wander around and you have to just follow them around while they explore? (Or both?) What sort of harness works best? My cats are about 2 1/2 and 7 years old (in other words, not kittens). Will this make it significantly more difficult to leash-train them?

Any and all advice and information on the topic would be much appreciated.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-15-2012, 01:26 PM
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The best you can do is hope for them to wander in a straight line, they don't really walk like dogs. they hardest past is getting htem use to the harness. There's lot's of info out there if you google cat walk training harness.

I really like this harness I got, nice and secure..

I got mine here. Not cheap, but good. I like this general style because there I can pull Toby if I have to and it's not putting a lot of pressure on him.

Cat Walking Jackets | Cat Harnesses | Joy Katz
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-15-2012, 07:09 PM
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I have a 7-year-old indoor-only cat that I thought might benefit from going outdoors every few days.

I got him a Come With Me Kitty harness and read up on the subject - you'll be able to find youtube how-to videos, and the Come With Me Kitty comes with some decent instructions as well.

I did everything right at first - I starting carrying the leash around with me and petting him with it so he got used to the texture and smell of it. I eventually got it on him and VERY loosely bucked one of the buckles. He rolled around a bit, which is normal, but only seemed mildly inconvenienced by it, which is a good sign. I gave him some treats and I was very hopeful.

Then my boyfriend wanted to see what progress I had been making. I made a HUGE mistake and buckled every single buckle on the harness. The straps were adjusted a little tighter than they had been before, too.

He FLIPPED. OUT. He fell to the floor and went full Linda Blair. I can't even describe it - he was basically "convulsing" and twisting and jumping in the air. He then ran in terror to the back room of the house and yowled. I got it off of him, he got a minor abrasion on his eye from the struggle, and I basically ruined any positive associations that he'll ever have with the harness.

Moral of the story: don't get eager and push too hard. If it takes weeks to get them used to it, let it take weeks. He'd probably be fine with the leash now if I hadn't caved to the peer pressure.

Last edited by marie73; 12-15-2012 at 08:43 PM.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-15-2012, 07:13 PM
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Agree with Hal. Walking a cat on a leash is NOT like walking a dog....it's more hanging on to the other end of the leash and following them around like a dope.

My young cat HATES it. He was fine with the harness once he got used to it but he WIGGED out and escaped his "escape proof harness when cars started going by.

The older cat liked it TOO much. When it's nice out he drove me crazy howling to go outside. I had to stop taking him because he was inconsolable.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-15-2012, 07:15 PM
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One of mine walks pretty much like a dog....with a few stops to smell stuff on the way. I can even jog, if I take really good care not to let him tangle me up when he gets really close.

My little girl is quite different....with her it's mainly follow her where she wants to go, although she will generally take direction.

The colourful harnesses Hal1 suggests look secure....I have found most of them to be crap that cats can get out of at will.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-16-2012, 01:23 AM
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Margaux took to it right away - she was probably about 2 or so. Maybe that was partly because the harness was very light, like a thin cord (I don't think I'd recommend this, although I didn't have any issues), but probably more because she always wanted to go outside. I think she figured that if the harness was the only way she was getting out there, she'd put up with it. I brought her to the door and opened it a little before I put it on for the first time. She resisted a little, but I opened the door again so she could get a whiff of the air outside and then finished attaching the harness.

Yep, I'm in complete agreement with MowMow about what it's like "walking" a cat:

Only once did she actually let me walk her. The other times, it was me standing there while she sniffed a bush for 10 minutes, moving forward a few inches, standing again while she sniffed a second bush, etc. Occasionally, it was being nearly yanked off my feet when she caught sight of a chipmunk. And then it was growling and hissing when it was time to go back in.

Celia would not have anything to do with the harness and got totally freaked out when I tried to put it on her. I tried a few times, but she's always been skittish and I think she's actually afraid of the outdoors, so I didn't push it.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-16-2012, 12:43 PM
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Funny thing I tried it earlier today with my cat.
It was the second time he had it on him and everything went well, until the moment the "outside world" started making noises...
He was abandoned in the street at some point and I think the memories are still quite fresh.... he was soooo scared he wouldn't move an inch, had to pick him up and even then he was flipping with every single noise.
We have a bit of communal grass at the back of the apartment, I guess we need to get out a little bit more.

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-16-2012, 03:12 PM
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Blaze is proof any cat can get used to going outside and love it.

I didn't leash train him, but I'm sure with persistence he would've taken to that as well. I allow him in the backyard to wander until he's had enough. When we open the door to let him in he either is wandering about not interested in coming in or comes running over like a puppy, all excited to see us. He's adorable.

Blaze pretty much had never left the apartment. Possibly 5 times max when he was quite young ... he's scared of everything; loud noise, plastic bags, strangers, putting him in his cage causes him to pee in fright. The one time my dad tried carrying him outside without thinking about it, Blaze peed all over him.

So anyway, at 15 years old we started letting him outside. At first he freaked out, peed everywhere and howled and wanted in desperately. We only let him outside for a few minutes and brought him back in. Tried again in a few days with the same results. Some people might just shrug at the point and say they don't like it outdoors but even for Blaze, the epitome of Scary Cat, after a few weeks he was gaining more and more interest in walking around and exploring. I remember the first time he really took everything in, he was looking up at the sky like it was fascinating. Now he runs out there to nibble on grass, he really loves it.

Along with the dogs Tara and Coco.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-16-2012, 03:39 PM
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A word of caution. Even though Toby does well on a leash outside, if a car is coming or some other big thing happens like neighbors opening their garage door, I have to pick him up or physically restrain him, as he will go into full freak out, get me out of here, mode. After the car passes he's okay.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-16-2012, 04:32 PM
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Yup, all my cats walk on leash. The kitten does the best with it. I got my guys when they were 3, 9 mos and 10 weeks. They all tolerate the harness, but only 2 will walk without falling over. I give a tug on the leash and they change direction. I use the come with me kitty harnesses. My kitten will even jump in the car on his own now, so cute!
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