How to take your cat outside safely
A walk on a leash gives your cat the opportunity to safely feel the grass, attack blowing leaves, roll around and explore. These outdoor adventures will awaken your cat’s senses, offering mental stimulation. And leash walks can provide a bit of exercise for both of you!
Pick your tools
Select a harness or walking jacket made just for cats—not for small dogs—and a cat leash. Always attach the leash to the harness or jacket, never the collar. And be sure your cat is wearing an ID tag to help ensure a safe return should you two become separated.
Go slowly to get comfortable
Enable your cat to “own” the harness: Leave it out for at least a week, allowing your cat to sniff it, mark it, drag it, whatever. The goal is to allow him or her to become familiar with it.
Keep it rewarding
Train your cat to associate the harness with pleasure: Talk in a comforting voice as you try to slip it on and praise cooperation with treats, a good petting or a toy. If your cat is resistant, take a break and try again later. Cat training can take weeks!
Once you’ve trained your cat to wear a harness, let him or her wear it for very short periods of time indoors—and reward the wearing as well. You want to always reinforce the association of the harness with pleasure for your cat.
Eventually, attach the leash to the harness and let your cat get used to it inside. Offer a treat when your cat isn’t pulling. If pulling occurs, stand still until it ends. And as soon as the pulling stops, provide a treat or other reward.
Take it outside
Once you train your cat to wear the harness and leash, begin to venture outside. Go slowly and plan for very brief trips—on the first day, just stepping through the doorway may be more than enough. At the first sign of fear, move back inside. Follow your cat’s lead and try increasing your time outdoors and the distance you go as your cat becomes more comfortable.