Harness Training

Lennybells

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Hi again. So Hobbes is a HUGE adventure cat…every new space MUST be explored as soon as possible. So we have decided to try walking him outside with a harness and lead. We have the harness (fit check is successful. Not too tight, not too loose), and I put it on him. He doesn’t like it but did adventure on our balcony for a bit before flopping in defiance.

I understand that he is getting used to it (going to try for 5 mins each day of practice). But just want to see if y’all experienced folk with adventure cats have some tips for getting him used to collars.
Thanks!

(Note: He IS neutered, has done flea control, and has all his shots)

Mods please move if in the wrong spot! 😀
 

KelWhit

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HI, my boys have been going outside for 6+ years. Harness type is really important for success. I’ve tried the wider chest harness (first 2 pics) and my boys don’t like it. You can see in the 3rd pic the two types of harness, Bob is in the red slim harness on the left, Frank is modeling the wide harness on the right) I use the slim harness and they have been fine with it, it doesn’t restrict their movement and its easy to put on.

You are right in trying out the harness inside first. I would try putting it on and off, give a treat if that is what motivates Hobbes, do this for a few days. You can also try to “walk” hobbes around the house before taking outside. This would help ensure the harness is on correctly.
 

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Lennybells

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I put it on, and left it for a few mins, and he is chill with it. Imma take it off and maybe try later, but he has been amazing so far. He got some treats!!
 
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Lennybells

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He is better with the harness. He picks up stuff like this very quickly. Any ideas on how to get him used to the leash? Last time I tried he freaked out that he was attached to something (I don’t blame him)
 

Margret

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In my experience, a cat can back out of those slim harnesses, pulling against the leash. I don't trust them. I almost lost Pretzel in a rest area when we were visiting out-of-state relatives, because someone insisted on having a conversation with me even though my cat was spooked. I've never used a skinny harness since (and I shut down conversations more firmly if my cat gets frightened).
 

amethyst

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It just takes time to get them use to a harness, some take to it right away others it takes a several time of having it on for a short time. As for getting them use to a leash, I use a long line, like you can buy for training a dog in open spaces if they don't have good recall yet. It allows the cat to be able to run if they feel they need to, so they don't feel like they are being caught or restricted, but you still have a hold on them. Obviously where you are makes a huge difference, I use a 100 ft long line I bought for my dogs but I also live on an acreage, if you don't have a large safe area a much shorter one would work better for you. I have also used a retractable leash too that seems to work well especially if you need to keep the cat closer and you don't have to deal with a long tangled line. Once they get use to the feel of having a lead attached you can see what works for your cat, for example my one cat Misty I can walk her on a shorter 6 ft lead if needed, but a couple of my other cats that go out on lead will freak out if they can't go far and need a longer leash.

The harness I like is the rabbitgoo escape proof harness Cat Harness with Leash Set --- 10% Sale Off with Free Exchange
Here is Misty going for a walk with one of my dogs. (funny that the cat is the one on lead not the dog :lol:)
20240504_131105[1].jpg
 
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Lennybells

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So cute!! We live in a city/suburban area so a long leash is not safe. Cars and stuff. Yeah.
 

amethyst

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So cute!! We live in a city/suburban area so a long leash is not safe. Cars and stuff. Yeah.
In that case you can start with a shorter "long" lead like a 12 ft retractable one, they have a locking feature so you can allow more lead when it's safe or lock it into a shorter lead. You can even just hook the length lead you want to use up to the harness in the house and let him drag it around to get use to a lead being attached without it restricting where he can go.
 

PushPurrCatPaws

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He is better with the harness. He picks up stuff like this very quickly. Any ideas on how to get him used to the leash? Last time I tried he freaked out that he was attached to something (I don’t blame him)
From my own efforts with my cat, I think the best way to get him used to the leash part of this whole experience is to try walking alongside him, gathering up the extra leash in your hand so that it is slightly taut, until he might recognize that this leash thing is connected to your shared experience. Do not walk behind him several steps —> walk alongside him. Then, as he gets used to it and calms down, gradually drop back.
 

catloverfromwayback

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In my experience, a cat can back out of those slim harnesses, pulling against the leash. I don't trust them. I almost lost Pretzel in a rest area when we were visiting out-of-state relatives, because someone insisted on having a conversation with me even though my cat was spooked. I've never used a skinny harness since (and I shut down conversations more firmly if my cat gets frightened).
Same here, and Daisy has even managed to get out of a wide waistcoat-style harness with big velcro fasteners when she's frightened.
 
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