Cat on a Leash

Salon writer Sarah Hepola moved to tiny apartment in Manhattan and found the lack of space severely affected her cat Bubba. Should she take him outside on a leash? Have you ever been able to leash-train a cat?
I know, I know, a cat leash is a ridiculous idea. Cats are too prickly, too willful to endure such pampered indignity. I might as well suggest my cat learn to make a delicious veal parmigiana, or play Bob Dylan songs on the harmonica. In five years of living in New York -- a city that prides itself on its vast parade of human experience -- I've only seen one cat on a leash. (Putting the ratio of strangers' penises to leashed cats at 2:1.) The New York Times wrote about a real estate broker on the Upper West Side  who leash trained his cat, which suggests just how remarkable the feat is. Even the phrase "cat on a leash" has a campy spark of the impossible, like something you'd see in a Farrelly brothers movie, or hear about in a novelty song: "Cat on a leash! He don't eat quiche!"  But if you start digging a bit into the world of cats on leashes, what you will discover is just how many people have already tried it.

After much angst, Hepola tried a leash on her cat and was surprised by how the adventure turned out. You might not be so surprised. Link

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I have had two cats that were leash trained. First was my older cat. The first time I put her in a harness she was 10 years old. She mostly followed me around or would tug to get near people to pet her. Her entire goal was to get more people to pet her and was mostly indifferent to the experience of outside vs inside.(She lived to 19 BTW.)

My new cat was harness trained as 10 month old kitten. At first, he hated it. Now he meows excitedly when I pick up his harness and leash. He still spooks easily, which means I have to be very aware of my surroundings. (He hates cars, which I consider a plus.) But when I take him out now, he jogs along the side walk with his tail high in the air. He is familiar with the limitations of the leash and even follows when I call him. He is also clever and I had to add a strap to his harness to stop his Houdini like escapes from it.

Truly depends on the cat and the owner. A lot of leash training a cat involves hours and hours of just letting them get used to it and feel safe with you outside. Some cats will never feel safe enough outside to walk on a harness. Also, you don't walk a cat on a leash so much as follow a cat on a leash or cajole the cat on a leash a few feet this way or that and periodically untangle the leash from various items. It's nothing like walking a dog. Most cats have little interest in following you much less being obedient to 'proper leash etiquette'. A leash just keeps the cat from taking off full speed into traffic or climbing a tree you can't get them out of.
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I live on the Upper West Side and there are a few people that have leash-trained their cats. I've only seen women, so I guess not the real estate fellow, but there is a guy who frequents my grocery that has trained his cat to sit on his head. Come to think of it, that cat might be on a leash as well. I try not to stare. Attention only encourages these sorts of things.
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I agree with Darktan - leash training a cat is totally doable if you start when it's a kitten. My cat is about a year old and I started taking him out on a harness/leash when he as just a couple months old. Once he realized that the harness does not, in fact, paralyze him, and that I wouldn't let him outside without that gear, he accepted his fate and now actually likes going out on walks. Admittedly the exercise isn't as good as walking a dog, seeing as he meanders around at his lazy cat-pace, but a good time is had by all involved. :)
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We tried putting a harness on our cat. He did not go for it at all. He'd just plop and refuse to budge an inch. Helps that he's proportioned weird, so unless we wanted to make the harness SUPER tight, he could slip right out of it.
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My cat Harry (now deceased) walked happily on a leash for the entire 16 years I had him. Got him from an animal shelter, and since I lived near a busy street but wanted him to be able to enjoy the outdoors, I thought I would give it a try shortly after we brought him home from the pound. He just stood there and let me put the harness on him, and thereafter basically behaved like a dog in a cat suit. He liked it if I staked him out so he could watch the birds. I think he must have been trained from kittenhood.
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