Why Does My Cat... Refuse to Go For a Walk on a Leash?

Cat on a leash

It doesn't make sense. Your cat loves to look out the window, but when you bring out the leash, she takes off and hides.

What gives?

“It’s normal for a cat — especially more fearful or timid cats — to be frightened by a new experience that is introduced too quickly,” says board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Sueda, DVM, of the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital.

But if you're willing to put in the effort and patience involved to properly teach your kitty to walk on a leash, it can open doors for her — literally.

The Benefits of Leash Training

“The outdoors are a great opportunity for enrichment, particularly for cats who used to spend time outside,” says Dr. Sueda.

A harnessed jaunt in the fresh air offers felines a safe way to experience new sights, smells and textures, like the feel of grass under foot. (Before heading outside, just be sure that your cat has adequate parasite protection, an ID tag on a separate collar and/or a microchip, and up-to-date vaccinations.)

The leash life has health benefits too: Overweight cats may be more motivated to move around in a stimulating outdoor environment.

Of course, not every kitty is cut out to learn to love the leash — older cats may take more time to adjust to training, and some personalities simply won’t take to the idea — but it’s still worth trying.

How to Train Your Cat to Like the Leash

Still interested? Try these tips:

Invest in a good harness. Dr. Sueda recommends buying one that attaches to a leash at the back, not the neck. And look for stretchy leashes that won’t jerk.

Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!