It is not the most usual thing to see a cat being walked on a leash. Traditionally, it is dogs that have leads and cats that roam free. However, these days, with so many small birds and animals on the verge of extinction, you may want to consider training your cat or kitten to walk on a leash. This will prevent him from hunting down and killing butterflies or small birds. It will keep him from climbing trees to take baby birds from their nests. It will also keep him out of danger, as you will be monitoring his whereabouts in a responsible manner.
Rather than just using a collar and leash to walk your cat, think about using a harness. A cat’s head is quite small compared to the rest of it and a collar may be inclined to pull over his head and off. The harness straps should encircle the neck and the body just behind the front legs, with two more straps to join the circles together; one through the front legs and one down the back of the neck. There will need to be a clip for the leash as well. Light leather or synthetic material is good for a cat’s harness.
Don’t use anything too heavy or the cat will reject it.
It’s also important to get your cat used to the look and feel of the leash before you take him walking in it. After he has become used to seeing the leash, (you could leave it in his bed) then let him wear it for a few minutes each day before leading him around by the lead. While still indoors, tug gently on the lead whilst calling your kitty.
When he comes to you, praise him, but never force or scold him if he doesn’t come, or he’ll think the leash is a punishment. When you walk your cat on his leash, don’t walk him the same way as you would a dog. Dogs like to run fast and are happy to trot at a good gait beside you, once they have learned to lead. Cats are quite different. They don’t usually run or walk fast in a straight line from A to B. They tend to stop and start, to wander about and to inspect strange rustlings in the grass.
For your cat to enjoy walking outside with you, you must allow him to do at least some of these things. Never pull the cat along roughly. He will be likely to try and back off very quickly. Gently encourage him to come with you and praise him when he comes in the right direction. Hold out treats for him as you call him to come.
Cats also feel the heat easily. You can’t expect to go for a quick run around the block on the hot sidewalk with a cat. Remember kitty has no shoes for protection against the blistering heat or cold snow. Wherever possible walk your cat in the shade and on grass. Sun is all right if it’s not very hot.
Respect your cat’s need to rest when you are walking him. It’s a good thing to stop and smell the roses yourself. Let your walk be in a calm and stress-free environment. Your cat will likely be afraid of loud traffic or skateboarders zooming past his tail. With these few pointers, your cat should soon begin to enjoy his daily walk.
It’s important to train your cat to come when it is called for a variety of reasons. You may need to go out suddenly and you don’t wish to leave your cat outside where he may be in danger of other prowling cats or dogs chasing him. If you’ve trained your cat to come when called, the task of getting him inside will be simple.
So how can we train a cat to come when called? One of the easiest ways is to use his love of food. You don’t have to train him to know his name. Cats may be called a name, but this is often for the convenience of the owners, rather than the cat. Kitty doesn’t care what he’s called and often will answer to any name, so long as it is said in the same tone of voice.
But back to using food for training. When it is time to feed your kitty, make a loud and specific noise, like rattling a spoon or knife on the side of the cat food can. He will associate that noise with being fed and come very quickly. But don’t leave it at that. You don’t want to have to rattle a spoon every time you want your cat to come. While rattling the spoon, call the kitty’s name over and over. Say it loudly enough to be heard above the rattling spoon. Very often a high-pitched ‘kitty-kitty-kitty’ will do the trick. He will get used to the rattling spoon meaning food, and the sound of your voice will be associated with the rattling spoon, so that very soon he will come bounding up when you simply call without rattling the spoon.
It is good to reinforce this good behavior by offering a treat, so when he comes at your call and you don’t intend to feed him, give him a little reward instead. It can be a food reward, a cuddle while telling him what a good kitty he is, or you could offer him a toy and play with him for a while. Kittens love to chase a wisp of paper tied to a string, so it needn’t be an expensive toy. Cats respond to kindness and play as well as to food.
If your kitty doesn’t come promptly to be fed, decrease the amount of food you give him. When he is really hungry, he will come much more promptly. This is the time to rattle that spoon and call loudly.
There are a number of behaviors that your cat needs to learn so that your relationship will be a happy and stress-free one. Having a cat as a pet has many benefits, but these can be out-weighed if the cat is allowed to rule the roost, especially if his nature is exuberant and mischievous. Certain behaviors need to be learned by your cat for the safety of other members of the house as well as to enhance the relationship between cat and humans.
An important thing for kitty to learn is to use his litter tray. Urinating on furniture or carpet will spoil it for life and leave an odor that is almost impossible to remove. It is also unhealthy to have puddles or other unmentionables on the floor where toddlers may be crawling.
A cat or kitten also needs to learn to come when called. This makes is easier to get him out of danger if he wanders away and it also makes feeding time more organized. If you need to go out and the cat must be shut in, you need to be able to call him and have him turn up in a reasonable time-frame or you’ll be late for work or wherever you were off to.
Cats are nocturnal animals. That’s why they suddenly come to life around sunset and want to go wandering. That’s why they snooze a lot in the day. This behavior is impossible to prevent entirely, but you can keep kitty locked inside at night and play with him during the day. The less he sleeps in the day, the more he will sleep at night.
If you travel a lot and want to take your cat, then he will need to learn how to travel comfortably in a car and it’s important for him not to wander away and get lost once you arrive at your destination. It would be a good thing for your cat to learn how to walk in a harness, and then you can take him out for a walk without worrying that he will stray or run into danger.
Cats also need to learn to not be destructive. It’s a cat’s nature to sharpen his claws and to hunt and jump. These behaviors are not so welcome in the home, so the cat must learn where he is allowed to scratch and what he can jump on safely. He doesn’t know that the stove will burn him if he jumps onto it, nor does he realize that he might knock down your antique vase if he jumps up on that shelf. These are the sorts of things a cat needs to learn.
If you live in an urban area or anywhere near a major traffic route, you may need to stop your cat from heading out the door every time you open it. Cats can be easily frightened in traffic and you don’t want your pet to meet with a nasty accident. Not only will an accident be unpleasant for your pet, veterinarian fees tend to make a large hole in your budget. Stopping kitty from running out the door will not be easy, but can be managed with patience. It is certainly easier to train a small kitten than a grown cat whose habits may be ingrained.
Whether you have a cat or a kitten, it will need to be trained to stay indoors unless you allow it to go out. To do this, use the cat’s natural traits, working with his nature rather than against it. We know that cats dislike loud, startling noises, so every time the door is open and kitty heads that way, try and be ready with a loud noise – but between him and the door. Don’t come up behind him with it or you’ll just frighten him right out the door.
One good way to train your kitty is to enlist the aid of another person to stand just outside the door. Then you can open it and as soon as your kitten pokes his nose out, have the other person squirt him with a spray bottle or water gun. Two people will be even better. One can have a spray bottle; the other can have the noisemaker. This will frighten your cat back into the room where you can be waiting to soothe him and tell him what a good cat he is for coming back.
To add even more to the lesson, you can be sure to call him back just before the noise and water spray happen. If you make your voice sound alarmed, kitty will soon get the message and it will teach him that an alarmed voice means something unpleasant is going to happen to him. This can be useful at other times, too. He may be outside in the yard and you suddenly notice he’s about to jump over the fence. To call him back in a voice of alarm will save him from getting lost or chased by a dog or even another cat.
Of course, always remember to use positive reinforcement such as petting or treats when he does the right thing.
Most people don‘t want their cats on their kitchen counters, and it makes sense. Litter from the litter box gets caught in the pads of their paws and they can track that up where you prepare food. However, even if you have no personal hygienic reason for not wanting kitty on the counter, he still shouldn’t be there. After all, your can doesn’t really know what he is going to land on when he makes that big leap from floor to counter. Do you really want him to land on something hot that could injure him, such as a hot stove top or food that is just out of the oven? A cat could get severely injured paws this way. So, how can you stop him?
The trick is to use something he hates to discourage this habit. Most cats hate sudden, loud noise, so if you make a loud noise in his face when he jumps up, he’ll quickly jump back down. Soon he’ll begin to associate the loud noise with that particular activity and he’ll stop. So what can you use to make a loud noise?
An empty soda can with a few pebbles or marbles in it is one good idea. Shake it in kitty’s face so it rattles loudly and startles him. He won’t like that. If you also say no several times very loudly he may soon stop jumping as soon as he hears that command. Some people believe growling is a good idea. This is how your cat’s mother would teach him what is allowed and what is not. It’s cat communication at its most basic and easiest to understand.
A bottle filled with pebbles could also be used, but the noise is slightly muted by the plastic or could be dangerous in glass. Another idea is to roll a few sheets of newspaper up and slap the counter right in front of him with it. Then if he does not jump down, pick him up by the scruff of the neck and place him on the floor. Never scoop him up from the table and cuddle or kiss him, as this is a positive reinforcement and will encourage him to jump up next time he wants some attention.
Spraying kitty with a spray bottle full of clean water is another method of discouraging the habit of jumping onto the counter. If kitty simply won’t stop jumping, try doing several things at the same time. Keep a child’s horn – the sort you can blow into – nearby. As soon as kitty gets to the top of the counter, blow the horn and spray him with the water. If you can do this behind his back so he doesn’t see you doing it, that’s best, because he may learn to distrust you if he sees you doing these things. But if you can startle him with noise without him seeing you and do it every time you see him up there, he’ll soon get tired of all that noise and stop.