Cat trying to touch a toy held by a woman.

Basic Training for Cats

Contrary to popular belief, some cats can be just as trainable as dogs. Keep in mind, though, that the independent nature of cats can make certain training procedures a bit tricky, but if you maintain an understanding attitude toward your task, your frustrations will be minimal and your rewards plentiful.

As with dogs, all cats should be trained to walk on a leash at an early age. Why? By teaching your cat to accept a leash and harness, you will be able to institute a daily exercise program for it, keeping it fit and healthy.

In addition, since allowing a cat to roam freely outdoors these days is becoming more dangerous, a leash-trained cat can enjoy the same benefits of the great outdoors, yet without the risks. Finally, many travelers find that leash training comes in quite handy at rest stops during lengthy trips.

Before you attach a leash to your kitten or cat, it must become accustomed to a halter. Because halters provide more control and security than do collars, the latter should not be used to walk a cat on a leash.

Place the new halter on your cat and allow it to wear it around the house for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Then take it off, and repeat the process at 3-hour intervals throughout the day. Eventually lengthen the time you leave the halter on until your cat will wear it all day without a fuss.

At this point, attach a leash to the halter and allow your cat to drag the leash around for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before removing it. Repeat this procedure throughout the day for a week or so. Do not allow your cat to walk around unsupervised with the leash dangling free. If the leash becomes snagged, your cat could seriously injure itself.

Once you feel that your cat has become accustomed to the leash, practice walking with it indoors using the lead for a week or two. Only after your cat gives you total compliance should you attempt the same maneuver outdoors.

If everything goes as planned, be sure to reward your cat for a job well done. A scratch behind the ears or under the chin, or a favorite food treat, does wonders to help solidify and promote such desired behavior.

If you so desire, teach your cat commands as you would a dog. Remember: Because of the very nature of the feline, you can’t always expect 100 percent compliance; simply take all successes and run with them!

One helpful tip is to hold your training sessions when your cat is hungry. If you do so, food rewards become powerful motivators for good behavior.