Burton The Cat Answers Your Questions Part 1: Leash Training
Meet Burton of @burtonthecat and his little brother Diego! They are leash-trained cats (well, Burton is - Diego is working on it!) who traveled with their paw-rents from San Diego, CA to Portland, OR. Their meowmy Christine is here to share some wisdom she's learned from their travels and has some advice for all you kitty owners who want to take your fur baby outside to explore. And stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 on traveling with your cats and meeting new people!
Burton and Diego's meowmy Christine was kind enough to share some of her learned wisdom on leash training, traveling with cats, and getting them acquainted to new people.
Here is her advice on leash training. She says:
First things first I didn't leash train Burton! Or Diego really. Burton pretty much came this way and Diego likes to be with us and his brother so much he joined in too.
Second: I don't think the leash is good for every kitty. I do think it's a myth that older cats can't learn though - as evidenced by Burton. I don't know if he'd ever done it before, and he took to it right away, but it's still a process: They say go slow and that's what we did. The first time he did what most cats do - went all floppy.
Eventually, when both cats are successfully wearing the harness (no leash) and participating in normal activities around the house - like eating, sleeping, playing, and pooping - at this point you are ready to experience the great outdoors.
Next advice: you don't really walk a cat. They walk you. The harness and leash are primarily for safety, and if you've walked a dog before this is entirely different. I'm still teaching cat dad this - don't drag kitty around. If they're into it and you use some treats for motivation, let them "come" to you a few feet at a time and reward them. Eventually, they just take off on their own and though you sometimes have to course correct - Tada! - you have cats on leashes.
Remember: If you need to get someplace specific, you're likely going to have to pick them up and get them there. Unless you have several hours to walk ten feet. It's just par for the course.
Also: start with something inexpensive at first to see if your kitty will be ok with it, but before you venture outside, make sure kitty has a good fitting harness they cannot escape from. Burton needed something custom.
Another word of advice is to practice every day. The kitties start to acclimate but if you don't do this every day they seem to "forget." Also, you will have good days and you will have bad days. Sometimes - like a toddler, they just don't cooperate. Make sure your practice runs are often, and in quiet safe places for your love.