When you bring the collar or harness and the leash home, leave the items laying around for a while so that your cat will get used to them. Let him/her sniff them over and play with them, until their curiosity is thoroughly exhausted and the equipment is accepted as just another part of the territory area. Once this is achieved, try to gently lay the collar or harness on the cat's neck without actually putting it on. Do this, carefully and without fuss, several times a day. Many cats will shrug the collar/harness off at first so be patient. This kind of orientation takes time, perseverance, and patience, but will be well worth the effort in the end.
Be sure to reward your cat each time you put the collar/harness on. Patting him/her on the tummy (if they like it) or a special and tasty treat (if weight gain is not a problem) is good behavioral reinforcement. Let your pet understand that putting on the collar/harness is a pleasant experience, not a negative one.
We all learn best by association, and cats are no different than the rest of us. Let kitty learn to associate the walking gear with happy, fussing times.
Now put on the collar or harness for brief periods of time, again rewarding your cat with a giant hug, a gentle scratch behind the ears, or a nose rub. While talking about rewards, let me please remind you not to use food treats all of the time. It can lead to being overweight plus every time the cat sees the collar or harness, they will want more treats. It's okay to use them occasionally while training but my meowmie recommends using hugs, rubs and scratches more often than treats. She says treats are mainly for special times, not training. Silly humans again, treats are good for everything!!!
The next step is to attach the leash to the collar/harness and then let your cat do whatever he/she wants to do. Let them roam through the house, dragging the leash behind them. Continue to do this periodically until kitty feels comfortable with both the collar/harness and leash and no longer fusses when you put them on her. Be sure to reward them each time.
Now take your end of the leash and follow kitty around. Let your cat guide your footsteps. Don't force him/her to follow you, just play follow the leader until kitty is very comfortable with you on the other end of the leash.
After a week or so of this passive leash training, it is time for you to take the initiative and teach kitty to follow you. This is where all of the communication skills (Note from Sassy's Meowmie: If you need help with communication skills go here) you have mastered come into play.
Use your voice, your body language, and a gentle and patient facial expression to get your cat to follow you. Use the high end of your voice range, this is the pitch your cat will most likely respond to. For example: "Wow Sassy! Let's go for a walk. Boy, will this be FUN! Come on, baby, let's go have some FUN!"
No self-respecting cat will follow you right away. If fact, your voice will probably be horse (no pun intended) and your throat will be sore before a paw is moved in the direction you wish. Even then, the chances are that kitty will stop in his/her tracks, plant all four paws firmly in the rug and dare you to just try and make them move! This can be very frustrating, but please be patient. It will all go well in the end.
The worse thing you can do when this happens is to get into a fight for territory with your pet. The more you pull, the more resistance they will put up. Try to, instead, nudge your pet in the required direction. Don't be disillusioned if your precious little furball only move a couple of steps the first few times. Keep at it and you will soon notice breakthroughs. DO NOT yank on the leash or become short tempered and haul the cat in your direction! Practice for a few minutes everyday.
Now is the time to transfer your walks outdoors. If your pet has never been outside, take this step slowly and carefully. Kitty will probably be overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of the great outdoors. Take your pet on short walks, always praising him/her at every step.
After a while, your pet will become more at ease in the outdoors with you. Remember that this process takes quite a bit of time. Do not rush, or become angry or frustrated. If you lose your temper with the cat, you could lose all of the progress you've made.
Okay, now my Meowmie wants to talk to you.
Hi kitties! I just wanted to tell your humans that if you get frustrated, which you will, during the training session to stop at once. Please do not take out your frustrations on the kitty. They are really trying to "get it". If you absolutely have to take out your frustration, do so with a pillow where the kitty can not see you or go for a walk by yourself to cool off! This is so very important. Thanks for stopping by!