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Old December 12th, 2010, 06:53 PM
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cats and leashes

Okay, my living situation is that I'm in a second floor apartment. I have a balcony, but it's made of iron bars that's very uncomfortable to walk on, so being outside there is out of the question. I'd like (once the weather turns nice, stupid Wisconsin snow) to be able to take Gizmo outside with me and the dog. To that end, I purchased a harness, since I thought it would be a good idea to get him used to it while he's still so young, rather than waiting until he's mostly grown to try. I can get the harness on him, and after a few minutes of twisting around, he gets used to it and ignores it. but once I clip a leash on him, all he does is lay down. he refuses to walk while the leash is clipped, even though I'm not trying to tug or direct him in any way. I have seen cats on leashes. I know it can be done. Am I going about this the wrong way? I've tried the leash just a couple of times, and only for about 5 minutes, since he looked so depressed and I don't want to traumatize him. Help! I want him to be able to explore outside, but if I can't get him comfortable enough with a leash, that's just not going to happen.
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Old December 12th, 2010, 07:08 PM
pattymac pattymac is offline
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Cats are not the easiest to train to walk on a leash, at least not like a dog. You can always try a short leash and just let him drag it around in the house. Lots of treats helps too, if he's got a favourite. A light cat leash is the best to use. When I used to take my cats out on a leash and harness, it was more a case of just following them around while they explored. My one cat though once he figured out it was time to go in the house would lay down and refuse to move. I'd have to pick him up and take him back in, with him snarling and growling the whole time.

There is a drawback to taking them out on a leash, once they discover how much fun it is out there, they become escape artists! Wouldn't be so bad in an apartment, I would guess.
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Old December 12th, 2010, 07:38 PM
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Oh, he's already an escape artist! Getting in and out of the apartment can be, hmm, adventurous at times. He's tiny and he's quick, and he's incredibly eager to explore.

how short are we talking? something like 12 inches, or more like a light, thin dog leash? I could leave something like that on him for a while, as long as we were in the bedroom (i've got a reclining couch, with movable parts under that a trailing leash could get hooked on)
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Old December 13th, 2010, 06:58 AM
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I would do as Pattymac suggested. let him drag the leash around, he'll get used to it. You can encourage him to walk by placing a treat about 10 feet in front of him, or playing with a laser light. Once he starts walking, you can then start training him on stopping and turning direction by gentle tugging the leash in the direction that you want him to go, once again using treats to entice him to go in that direction.

Good luck.
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Old December 13th, 2010, 07:18 AM
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Melinda Melinda is offline
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we put a harness on my moms kitten when he was 4 weeks old and hooked half a dogs nylon leash on it, he's now 5 months and walks everywhere on leash with her
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Old December 13th, 2010, 01:39 PM
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I've leash trained cats, but as Pattymac said it's mostly about following the cat around to where cat wants to go. At the time we had a 1/2 acre property and cat was content to walk the perimeter of the property, and yes some gentle pulling in a different direction worked about half the time. Off our property the cats were very insecure and a dog or motorbike going by would freak them out. I don't want to put a damper on your dreams of walking dog and cat together, but I think it would be very difficult. A loose strange dog comes up, a bunch of kids running down the sidewalk, or motorbike and cat freaks out? Then what? That kind of situation would be very difficult to manage, as some cats just go berserk in trying to get away and may bite, or worse wriggle out of their harness and run off!

What you could do is buy a Pet Stroller for the cat, and then you could take your dog for a walk at the same time. Most pet stores sell them.
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Old December 13th, 2010, 08:18 PM
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lovely, thanks for all the suggestions, folks. we're going to be working on things while I'm off work for Christmas and we'll see how it goes!
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Old December 14th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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As catlover2 said - please do not take both the cat and the dog out at the same time. You may be able to control one but not both in an emergency. Which one would be left behind?

If you lived in the country I would be more apt to say go for it. Normally there are lots of open areas where a kitty can explore in safety with the harness on. But you live in a populated area. Or at least I am going to assume you do seeing as you mentioned you live in an apartment.

A scenario or two -- You are outside walking your pets. Another dog comes up and petrifies both your dog and cat. Your cat reacts by slipping his harness. Your dog reacts by yelping and hiding behind you. What would you do? -- Again, walking both pets - A very loud horn blasts close by. Gizmo is scared and reacts the same way as before. Or he decides you would make a good climbing post to get away from the thing that scared him. He scratches you badly. Now you are in pain and trying to control a cat who just wants to find a place to hide and a dog who can sense something is amiss. Disaster!!

I have a cat (my feral gal Storm) who this past summer was being kept indoors because of an injury. When she was almost healed I decided to take her out for a walk on the leash. Hubby was building her outdoor enclosure but it wasn't finished yet and she was getting owly. We were walking slowly when she suddenly made a quick backward movement and slipped the harness. Easily done. Cats do it all the time. She went under the deck luckily and I was able to catch her when she came out. Hubby was watching. He later said he would not have believed a cat could slip a harness attached to two leashes as easily as she did.

The point I am trying to make is what would happen if you had Gizmo outside and he slipped his harness? It is next to impossible to catch a cat who is terrified and just wants to get away. In a populated area a lot of times that getting away would be right out into a busy roadway.
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Old December 14th, 2010, 06:19 PM
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jassy3399 jassy3399 is offline
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14+, I didn't realize it was so easy for a cat to slip the harness! they seemed more secure than that. I'm glad you said something. I will definitely keep kitty close to home, only taking him out and around the property, rather than on the long walks with the dog. I'm sure the property is big enough to keep him happy exploring it without venturing further.

I am continually grateful for all the advice and tips folks pass on to me here. Thanks so much, everyone!
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Old December 15th, 2010, 07:07 AM
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Oh, yes, a cat can slip a harness quite quickly. If your kitty gets panicky the best thing to do is to keep the leash slack. I actually use a long rope that is about 15 feet long and keep half of it rolled up in my hand just in case I need to offer some slack.

Successful walking of your cat depends entirely on your cat. I could walk Snowball like a dog, except at a much slower pace, even take him to provincial parks to walk the trails. We would walk him around the subdivision without a leash (I don't recommend this for most cats, he was special) and he would just follow us. Some cats can't be trained to walk on a harness.
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Rose semi feral, a cpietra rescue, female tabby (approx 7 yrs)

Sweet Pea RIP (2004?-2014)
Puddles RIP (1996-2014)
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In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats.-English Proverb

“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.” Stephen R. Covey
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Old December 16th, 2010, 01:21 AM
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oh lord, I wouldn't dream of trying without a leash! I have a hard enough time keeping him from escaping when I'm going in and out of the apartment. He absolutely does not believe me when I tell him there's nothing he wants out there (we've got below 0 temps right now, and he'd get lost in the snow drifts) but he doesn't believe me. fortunately, the few times he's made it past me, he only goes across the hall to scratch at the neighbor's door mat.

I'll be very cautious in trying this. he's a bit of a brat, but I'm not willing to lose him.
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Old September 7th, 2012, 08:38 AM
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My cats walk fine on a regular leash. What I did is during the summer, they would cry a the windows and meow to get outside, so any time I took them out I would put them on the leash. We would sit outside and play for about 20 minutes, with their cat balls, etc, then i would bring them in.

They started to associate the leash with going out side, and now whenever they see the leash they get excited! I never had a harness though, I just attached a little dog leash onto their collars. They haven't escaped from them, but I know if they really wanted to they could.

Getting them to actually walk is a little bit more tricky!! I found the walk if they have something to chase, so I tied a little cat ball onto the leash and let it drag behind me when i walk, and they would run to try and catch the ball.

No one of them will run on a leash like she is a show cat! Haha! Maybe I just got lucky but this is what worked for me.

Also my cats are very clingy / obedient, so if they escape, which has happened before, I just yell "Pussington NO" and she stops dead in her tracks. Also watch out if they slip the leash, because my big boy cat Bandit, when he slips the leash he runs full speed right up the nearest tree.....NOT FUN! He then gets scared and starts crying because he cant work out how to get down haha!
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