Should I harness train my cats?

Katie656

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 9, 2020
Messages
33
Reaction score
93
Hi all,

Our 2 cats are just over 6 months old and I am wondering whether now is the right time to harness train them.

I believe that they would get considerable enjoyment and stimulation from going outside, but am worried that once they have had the opportunity to go out they will not be content with stopping inside anymore.

All of my previous cats have been outdoor/indoor cats, so this is an issue I have never previously had to face.

In the future we are planning on building a catio with a cat flap, so the cats can have safe access to the outside world whenever they want. However we are moving house (hopefully) once things have returned to normal after covid 19, so cannot really build the catio until after the move.

I would love to hear about other people’s experience with harness training. At what age did you start, and what was your cats reaction? Also do you have any tips for me?

Thank you all, and here is a photo of our dynamic duo, just because :)

DF947CC8-FDEF-4679-BBA6-641E8526B031.jpeg
 

rubysmama

Forum Helper
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Nov 25, 2013
Messages
15,096
Reaction score
29,537
Location
Canada
Awwww... gorgeous kitties. I'm glad they won't be indoor/outdoor cats, as that will give them a much greater chance at having a long life. :catlove:

I don't have any experience with harness training cats, however, I have read that some cats, once they get a taste of outside, want to go out ALL THE TIME. So your concern about that, is valid.

Hopefully other members who have harness trained their cats will reply with their experiences. Meanwhile, I'll post the link to the TCS article on the topic, in case you haven't seen it.

Harness And Leash Training For Cats

Also, here's the results to a site search on "harness" that you might find helpful:
Search Results for Query: harness
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3

Katie656

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 9, 2020
Messages
33
Reaction score
93
Thank you for your replay rubysmama! I haven’t seen that article, but I will be sure to read it.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

Katie656

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 9, 2020
Messages
33
Reaction score
93
After much consideration, and after reading the attached article, I have purchased 2 butterfly harnesses. I believe having supervised access to the outside will add a great deal of enrichment to our cats lives.

My big worry is that the cats will want to go out more than we can take them and begin meowing to be let out, or even worse try to get out when the door is opened. However hopefully this will not be the problem I anticipate as the cats have tall trees, toys, scratch posts and a wheel indoors, as well as 4 besotted humans to play with.

I will update this thread and let you know how we get on.
 

rubysmama

Forum Helper
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Nov 25, 2013
Messages
15,096
Reaction score
29,537
Location
Canada
If you can, do try to scan some of the threads on the site about harness training. One tip I've seen is to not let the cat walk out the door on their own, but to put the harness on, and then carry them out the door. And when it's time to come back in, pick them up, and carry them back in the door.That way, if you're lucky, they won't realize they can walk out the door themselves.

Another tip, is to do the harness training the same time every day, and after a specific "event" i.e. lunch. Cats love routines, and that way they will know they only go out after "lunch", or whatever time you decide.

Good luck. I hope it goes well.

Oh, here's one other TCS article you might want to read: How To Prevent Your Cat From Darting Out The Door | TheCatSite
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6

Katie656

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 9, 2020
Messages
33
Reaction score
93
I have seen the tip about carrying the cat in and out and am definitely going to try it. I’m willing to try anything that helps prevent problems!


It’s good to be reminded that cats love routine too. Sometimes keeping to a routine is a bit difficult in a hectic house hold. However once the cats are used to their harnesses we will try to take them out early evening. They are usually just waking up from their afternoon nap at this time, and most of our daily jobs have been completed.

Thanks for your help, it is very much:)
 

rubysmama

Forum Helper
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Nov 25, 2013
Messages
15,096
Reaction score
29,537
Location
Canada
It’s good to be reminded that cats love routine too. Sometimes keeping to a routine is a bit difficult in a hectic house hold.
Even something like keeping the harnesses on a hook or in a drawer, and making a lot of noise when you bring them out. Kinda like opening a cat of cat food, or shaking the treats package. Then they'll learn to listen for the sound.

Looking forward to hearing how it goes. And hopefully seeing pics too. :camera:
 

emu the cat

TCS Member
Kitten
Joined
May 1, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
7
Such beautiful kitties! I definitely think you should start harness training your cats, especially if they're always trying to get outside and be more adventurous.
I'm also harness training my cat! Here are a few tips that I've learned: first use positive association (putting treats on the harness so they'll eat on it, put it on their napping spot). Get them really excited to see the harness! Then desensitise them to the touch (put it on their back when they're eating). Afterwards, if the harness' neck piece is an over-the-head loop, use a treat to make your kitties poke their head through the loop. Take it slow, then soon you'll be able to put it over their head with just one go! When they're used to that, buckle the straps under their stomach, then take it off so they get used to it. When you start putting the harness on for a duration of time, give them treats whenever they walk to encourage them to move. It's more effective if you do this when they're still hungry. You've probably already heard this, but I think it's helpful to be reminded to to always take it slow:)
Here's a really good, in detailed article: How To Harness Train Your Cat — Why Animals Do The Thing
As for the door dashing, I've read about the picking up trick and that's pretty helpful. You could also use treats. Use a specific spot to put on a harness and give them a treat there. Then walk them out the door, onto the sidewalk/driveway, then give them a treat. That way they won't associate the door with positive reinforcement, just the harness area and the sidewalk. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9

Katie656

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 9, 2020
Messages
33
Reaction score
93
Thank you for your tips and the article, emu the cat, both were super helpful. I will let you know how we get on :)
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10

Katie656

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 9, 2020
Messages
33
Reaction score
93
Well it seems that the butterfly harnesses are going to take a long time to arrive so we ordered some cheaper harnesses to begin training while we waited for the better ones.

The harnesses arrived on Friday, and Enya took to wearing hers really well (she wore a recovery suit after her spray so was probably used to the feeling of having something on). Mika let me put his on no problem but refused to stand with it on :lol:. I spread dry food across the floor to reward and encourage him.

Anyway today I opened the back door and put the cats on the backdoor step and it went really well. Both cats were understandably a little nervous, but both really seemed to enjoy exploring and were out for about 20 minutes. Both were happy to go back inside. I look forward to watching them gain their confidence.

47B360DB-726B-4B3D-8663-2AFF9B64212F.jpeg
BEB740CC-F40D-429F-A982-98DB02AB42BE.jpeg
00E6A53E-5D81-41F5-8078-454D9280D3CA.jpeg
AFFBB55F-3E39-4F6F-B49A-6E6EBDECAA05.jpeg
 

rubysmama

Forum Helper
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Nov 25, 2013
Messages
15,096
Reaction score
29,537
Location
Canada
Glad they enjoyed their first outing. They look pawsitively adorable. :catlove:
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12

Katie656

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 9, 2020
Messages
33
Reaction score
93
The butterfly harnesses arrived yesterday, and I love them! The cats hated having the old harnesses over their heads, but the butterfly ones have a Velcro fastening. They fit so well and I feel much more confident that they are not going to slip out the harness.

Both cats love the garden. They do meow at the backdoor occasionally, but not excessively so. We never managed to carry them in and out as planned, with 2 excited children wanting to hold the leads it got a bit too much. I am hoping that Enya and Mika associate their harnesses with going outside, although they do try to sneak past us if we go out, hopefully they will lean this is futile.

Mika is a little rogue. He has taken to climbing the garden fence, and jumping on top of the play house, or trying to get behind it. We can’t take our eyes off him for a second. But he and Enya are happy, and that makes us happy.

1F9C9D03-E146-4E3D-A43D-3F7240F9B235.jpeg
265EFB54-9D03-4275-97F1-633B8077881E.jpeg
871CF173-524E-4CDB-8688-DEAE79315189.jpeg
 

Attachments

rubysmama

Forum Helper
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Nov 25, 2013
Messages
15,096
Reaction score
29,537
Location
Canada
Love the new harnesses. Thanks for posting the pics :redheartpump:
 
Top