The 101 on How to Harness Train Your Cat
You recently got a kitten, or maybe adopted a cat and you’re super duper excited because you know damn well you’re going to be part of the cool cat club and take your cat for a walk. So, you buy your harness, you put it on your kitten or cat and... well.... he flops to the floor. Does that sound about right? Yep, we’ve been there too. What do you do to get your little meow meow to take to a harness and actually walk the walk? Well buckle up, we’re about to give you our 5 best tips and tricks.
Before we begin though, you might be wondering what on earth we know about cat walking. Well our boutique was founded because of Romeo’s (our meowdel) love and adventure of the outdoors and we have become trusted in the cat community with our harnesses and walking advice. In fact, since starting our business we get questions almost every day asking for tips and tricks on all things cat walking.
So without further ado, here are our 5 top tips from experience - let us know how they work for you!
1. Buy a cat backpack
One of our best tips we can offer is to buy a cat backpack. This is especially important if you aren’t just walking your cat in your backyard or intend to take your cat for bigger, bad ass adventures. There are plenty of cheap backpacks you can buy on eBay like this one which is similar to the one we started out with. The benefits of using a backpack are two-fold; it gives your cat a safe space to get used to the outdoors without your cat feeling forced and will allow your cat to take his or her time in building confidence. Your backpack is also a must have in case of an emergency - such as if you see a dog coming.
How to get your cat used to the backpack could be an article in itself but simply, make the backpack a part of playtime, don’t immediately take your cat to the vet in the backpack and use plenty of treats for positive affirmation. Keep your backpack out in the open and you might be surprised to find you cat will go into the bag voluntarily to chill or have a nap (we do all the time).
2. Find the right harness
You’ve got your backpack and your cat loves it - fantastic! Now the harder bit - finding the right harness. Lucky for you, we have done some hard work and research to get the right fit for cats. From our experience, most cats will be an XS as cats tend to carry their weight on their back end. Romeo has been an XS since he was 4.5kg (he is now 5.5kg).
Our harnesses will be fitted for cats more so than they would be on a dog which we completely recommend. Cats tend to be more easily spooked, and before we started making our own harnesses, Romeo got out of multiple harnesses. If your cat is particularly small, we can also create an XXS upon request and are always happy to help with sizing, just send us a message!
But what should you expect when you get your harness? Well, I hate to break it to you but the floppage might still be a thing. In fact, Romeo still walks funny and sometimes - flat out refuses to walk at all with a harness on when we are inside. However, the good news is your cat should completely forget about the harness. Once it’s outside, there is so much going on for your cute ball of fluff that in majority of cases this shouldn’t be a problem.
3. Take it sloooooooooooow
So you have a harness that fits, you have your backpack, your cat is in it, you’re outside, now what? Don’t rush your cat. Walking Romeo did not happen overnight. It took the 3 magical P’s; persistence, patience and perseverance. Let your kitty adjust to all the new sights and sounds of the outdoors. It’s okay if he or she doesn’t want to come out straight away - it might take a few weeks before your kitty feels daring enough but when your cat eventually makes those steps, you will know they are not as likely to become easily scared or spooked.
4. Find a quiet secluded spot
One small step for cat, one giant leap for - well.. still cat. Your kitty has finally made the decision to come out of the backpack and quite frankly, you’re elated. We know, we were too! But if your cat still seems cautious or looks a little hesitant, try to find an area where there is a bush or somewhere for your kitty to hide and peak its head out to have a look around when ready. We made the mistake of taking Romeo into an open field and he flat out refused to come out of his bag as the area was too open and there was too much going on. Once we found a spot with a few hiding places, Romeo was straight out of the backpack.
5. Take toys and treats!
Toys and treats are a great way to take your cat's mind off of its surroundings and help them to associate the outdoors as being a positive experience. A toy can also help your fur baby relax and let his or her guard down while outside. We also found having a toy (or even just using a stick on the ground) is a great way to get your cat to follow you and go where you want him to go.
So in summary; get a cat backpack and make it a part of play time, get a harness that fits nice and snug, let your cat take his or her time and find a nice quiet spot which isn't too open to get your kitty feeling relaxed. Finally, take toys and treats to get your cat feeling positive about the experience.
Before you know it you'll have a Christopher Catlumbus on your hands! Has something else worked for you, or want to share your experiences? We would love to know so please get in touch with us!