Just picture it: you’re walking down the street, smiling at all the people and dogs passing by. Suddenly, you see a cat. Not a stray cat. Not a roaming kitty. But a feline wearing a harness, on a leash, proud owner behind him. Leash training your cat to walk outside on a leash and harness has become more and more popular in recent years.

We do NOT recommend leash training your cat to walk on a leash outside. Ever.

What changed our opinion: While some pet owners and cats accomplish training their cat to walk on leash and tell happy adventure stories, sadly we heard story after story of cats who lost their lives because of being outside on a harness and leash. Some panicked and escaped the harness. Others had owners who didn’t realize walking their cat on leash out the door (like a dog) would teach their cat to dash out the door when not leashed too. Some cats were attacked while on leash by a dog walking by. The end result was tragically the same: Cats killed or horrifically injured by a car or dog, or lost forever. Because of the high risk vs. reward, we do not recommend training your cat to walk on leash. There are safer equally as enriching safe alternatives, see below, so WHY TAKE THE RISK.

Safe alternatives to walking a cat on leash outside:

1. Catios don’t have to be large or expensive to give your cat all the stimulation that being “outside” to watch the birds and bugs go by. See how we built a catio here and watch our video tour.

2. Cat playpen or cage: Giving your cat a safe place to enjoy the outside can be as simple as a cat playpen like these, or even just a big wire dog crate that you train your cat to go in to safely inside your home, and carry or wheel him in to your yard, balcony, or patio.

3. Window perchesThese are a great way to give your cat a bird’s eye view of the world outside!

4. Cat trees or your furniture in front of windows: Giving your cat a comfy spot to sit and watch “cat TV” go by outside can be all that it takes to safely enrich your indoor cat’s life.