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:
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 perches: These 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.
This article update is in memory our former foster kitten Floyd, who’s photo appeared in our original article touting the benefits of leash training your cat, and is included here. His adopter did eventually leash train him “successfully” so he was very comfortable outside on a leash. He was on what supposed to be a very secure cat harness on a leash in his fenced backyard with his adopter, as they had done almost daily for over a year. A car backfired, he somehow escaped his harness, leapt over the 6 foot wooden fence, and was gone. RIP kitten, we are so sorry we failed to keep you safe.