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Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
08-24-2014, 12:54 PM,
#1
SevenWays Offline
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Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
I'm curious, is there anyone else here who tried to introduce a harness to their cat? I did, and I have to say I found it much much easier than I thought. It probably depends largely on your cat's personality, but it might be easier than you think.

I decided to buy a (very) cheap harness because my cat is young and very active, he likes to play a lot and he constantly looks outside the window yowling. The area around my house is full of cars and dogs, though, and the garden is unfenced, so I couldn't let him out without a harness.

I made a horrible mistake as soon as I bought the harness: I tried immediately to put it on him. I hadn't even figured out exactly how to use it, but I was very eager to finally take him for a walk. After 2 minutes and uncountable scratches I went on the Internet for help.

I did exactly as the guides I found online said: start slowly, let the cat recognize that the harness is part of his environment and is harmless, use treats and so on. And it worked!

Mind you, he does not like being harnessed. He tolerates it. And another thing: it's not like walking a dog, your cat won't follow you, and if you stop him from going somewhere he will not change direction. He'll keep pulling. This might be only my cat, but it seems in line with their nature.

I suggest those with young cats to give it a try. It takes some time and patience, but it's wonderful to see him chewing on grass and chasing butterflies! I don't know how an older, indoors-only cat would react to being brought outside though. What do you think?
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09-01-2014, 03:48 PM,
#2
helaofthenorns Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
I tried to harness train my two cats a year ago. They would tolerate being harnessed, but other than that, they are too stubborn. They would walk, but they would try their best to run away. Also, magically, they managed to escape the harness just by rolling around. It's safe to say that I never tried to put them on harness again. I realized that if the cats didn't enjoy collars, why would they enjoy the harness and being walked. I just let them be most of the time. We are all happy that way.
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09-30-2014, 01:54 PM,
#3
kfander Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
I moved from my home in Maine, where my cats were allowed to go outdoors, to Fayetteville, North Carolina for a couple of years, where they were not.

I had three cats. Two of them, sisters from the same litter, would have nothing whatsoever to do with a harness. One of them got out of her harness while we were outside once, panicked and ran. Fortunately, her interest was getting back inside the apartment. Since all of the apartment doors looked alike, she selected the wrong apartment but I found her scratching at someone else's door, and she let me pick her up. In the end, it wasn't worth fighting with them over it.

The third one, who was eleven years younger, took to a harness with no problem whatsoever. Well, she did fight it a little, I guess, but she soon realized that her only option for getting outside was on a leash.

When she wanted out, she would wait patiently for me to put the harness on and, twice, when I was busy with something else and tried to ignore her, she picked up the harness in her mouth and brought it to me like a dog might do.
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10-11-2014, 04:34 AM,
#4
Danyel72 Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
I did try to harness both of my cats because they are indoor cats and I really wanted them to be able to get a sense of being outside for walks and things like that. They are declawed so they cannot go out on their own. I wouldn't do that anyway.

They both would have no part of it... they would not allow it no matter what I did!! It was not a good situation to say the least and they were mad at me for 2 days I swear!!!

All cats are different though. Smile

Danyel Smile
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10-12-2014, 02:20 AM,
#5
Happyflowerlady Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
When i was growing up, I had a cat named Suzie Q, and she went with me everywhere around the yard just like a dog would do. I got her one of the little harnesses that are made for cats, tht are a strip of leather or nylon, and one end has a loop for the neck, and the other has a loop for the mid-section.
First, I just put the harness on her and let her wear it around, and only when I was right there with her , so that she didn't get caught somewhere with it. After she was used to wearing it, I attached the leash, and let her drag that around, and then I held on to the leash, but didn't try to make her lead. Once she was okay with wearing the harness, and being on a leash with me, I started to teach her to lead, and gradually, she became used to that also, and I was able to take her around with her harness and leash just like you would walk a dog.
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11-04-2014, 09:26 AM, (This post was last modified: 11-04-2014, 09:50 AM by kfander.)
#6
kfander Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
When we first decided to take Bird, whom I had been feeding as a feral cat for several years, with us when we moved from Texas to Maine, I had, of course, made friends with her by that time, but she was not your typical house cat. Having never taken cats that distance before, we were worried about their bathroom needs during the trip, so I hit on the idea of buying cat harnesses for them.

That was entertaining. The day we were going to leave, I put a harness on Bird, which didn't amuse her in the least bit. She flew into the air, spinning around like the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes, for those of you who are old enough to remember that one. It took her all of about fifteen seconds to be out of that harness and, by then, she was steaming mad. She started for street, intending to go back to the wild rather than being tied up, I'm sure. My heart dropped, as we had already turned our keys in to the landlord, and were about to leave. I wasn't sure that we'd be seeing Bird again.

Thankfully, traffic was heavy and she was a cautious cat. She stopped at the street to wait for traffic, and I was able to pick her up again. Although she bit my hand hard enough to make it bleed, I was able to carry her over to the cage. Cutie, Lydia, and Baby Girl, their mom, weren't overly fond of the harness either, but at least they didn't make me bleed. Interestingly, Bird's daughter, Obadiah, whom I mentioned in an earlier post, was to become my only cat to adapt to a harness just fine.

We decided against the harnesses and, as it turned out, our fears were never realized. The veterinarian had given us some medication to deal with their stress during the move, but they never needed it. We were in two cars, with Bird and Baby Girl (since Bird got along better with Baby Girl than with her daughters) in one cage, and Cutie and Lydia in the other. They yelled for the first ten or fifteen minutes each morning, then calmed down and slept, holding their bathroom needs until we stopped for the night.

Prior to that time, Bird had never been a house cat. She would agree to come indoors sometimes when it was raining or cold, but would stay by the cat door. So the other cats hadn't really gotten to know her very well. Cutie and Lydia were to hate her for her entire life, but Baby Girl was more neutral. During the trip, both of them were nervous, so they were cleaning one another.
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11-04-2014, 09:52 AM,
#7
Meowmie Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
My cats, who were all indoor cats, looked so longingly out the window that I decided some years ago to buy a harness so I could take them out to play.

The first cat didn't fuss at all when I put it on her. When I opened the door, she didn't go out so I had to pick her up and carry her outside. I put her down on the porch and she came over and climbed on my feet. I don't think she like walking on the bricks. After meowing at me for a few minutes I carried her back in.

The second cat was then put in the harness, and we went outside. She was more anxious to get out and explore, and was starting to check things out when a car, music blaring, no muffler, came flying by. She howled as she dove into the bushes on the side of the house. A few min later she was out of the harness. It took 3 of us almost an hour to pry her out of the bushes.

Cats 3 and 4 didn't get an opportunity to try the harness or the outdoors.

The harness went to the thrift store.

Windows are cat T.V. not openings to a world the cats want to enter.
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11-04-2014, 01:07 PM,
#8
Happyflowerlady Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
I think that if you are teaching a cat, or even a dog, to follow on a leash; it is important to start out ahead of time, and work them into it gradually, rather than just putting the harness on and taking them out for a walk.
If you put on just the harness, and leave the cat in a familiar place with it, and be sure that the cat can't hurt him/herself; then pretty soon the cat gets used to wearing the harness.

Next, attach the leash to the harness, and let the cat get used to dragging the leash around.
Once they are not afraid of this; you can pick up the leash and follow the cat around. Gently, start teaching them to come along when you change directions, calling them as you do this.
Only after the cat has become adept at walking on the leash should you take them outside of the house.
By then, you will have learned exacly where to adjust the harnesss so they can't wiggle out of it easily.
When you first go outside with your cat, stay in the yard, where the cat feels safe.
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01-17-2015, 12:38 AM,
#9
DancingLady Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
My grandma did that with her siamese cat. She was so afraid someone would steal him that starting when he was a kitten she always had him on a leash that was attached the a clothes line that went all the way across the yard. He was only allowed to be outside when on the leash, so he didn't really know anything different. He was mostly an indoor cat anyway.

I think it works fine if you start when they are really little, but I also always felt bad for the cat when I saw him on the leash. It just goes so much against the independent nature of the cat to be that way. Somehow it's different with dogs, they have a different personality.
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01-25-2015, 06:36 AM,
#10
Rita Brunkel Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
I would like to try a leash to walk my cats. My neighbors would abuse them outside, but I don't think you could get them to walk straight like a dog.
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02-11-2015, 11:56 AM,
#11
Laura Greenbrier Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
We do have a fenced yard, and our cat cannot escape. It gives her a nice area in which to wander, sniff everything, and enjoy the sun and all the outdoor smells wafting in on the breeze. I have read about the correct way to harness train: very slowly, over a few weeks, acclimate the cat to the harness and reinforce with treats. But our kitty, aside from already having an outdoor space, is a hard-headed tortoiseshell and her "tortitude" would, I'm fairly sure, short-circuit any harness training fairly quickly. Wink
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02-25-2015, 05:00 PM, (This post was last modified: 02-25-2015, 05:01 PM by pandabear1991.)
#12
pandabear1991 Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
I tried to harness train my recent shelter adoption, she was born in a cage at the shelter. I had her a good month before I tried this--she was used to staying inside the house and never tried to go outside. Therefore, I thought it would be good to try her with the harness because I didn't want her freaking out about cars, or if she did, she wouldn't run out in front of them.

It was an epic fail. I tried so many times and she just really didn't take a liking too it. I had her on it one day as I was going to check the mail, (she tended to follow me to the mail box and play in our busy road) and this big diesel truck drove by and she ran up my back and onto my shoulder, but left horrible claw marks on the way up.

I know she didn't mean to hurt me but it was something she just wasn't ready for. The harness or the traffic. But after that day, she stayed out of the road.
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03-30-2015, 02:02 AM,
#13
BobCat Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
I loved reading all of these comments about harness's and cats. I was actually surprised at the success rate. This discussion brought me back to the days when my children got their first two kitties. The kids had big plans to walk their new pets on a leash. Needless to say, the kitties had other plans and wanted no part of being taken for a walk. They would just plop down and sun bathe.
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04-17-2015, 01:20 PM,
#14
Shihtzufan Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
My cat is too lazy for that! We have tried, because we have a pup too and would have loved to take them both out walking. When we tried to put a harness on our cat he was fine, but proceeded to plop down on the floor and just lay there!
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05-06-2015, 11:48 PM,
#15
jeskalillis Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
Two of my sisters have been able to harness their cats and walk them. I have not done this, I just let the cats outside and they just hang around until they want to come back inside. I wouldn't mind trying this if I lived in a different area.
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05-07-2015, 09:00 AM,
#16
yesterdaysmiles Offline
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RE: Anyone else who tried to harness train their cat?
I had the most amazing cat a few years ago. He was given to me before he was weaned, and I babied him throughout his life. I took him with me everywhere we went, so he practically grew up in the cab of my pickup truck. As he got older and was more curious, I put him in a harness so he couldn't escape. He adapted to it just fine. I even took him on a 4000 mile road trip (2000 miles each way), and he rode almost the whole way on the dashboard, sleeping or watching the scenery go by. Cats can easily adapt if training starts when they're young. It's amazing to me that an older cat can adapt to the harness!
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