As an extra precaution, I often harness train cats before introducing them. Here is how I do that.
Training a cat to wear the harness
- Put a treat inside the harness’s collar for the cat to eat.
- Next time, pull the collar up a little while he’s eating the treat.
- Work up to putting the collar on while he eats the treat, and giving another treat while you take it off.
- Next, give a treat when putting the collar on, and another for wearing it, then take it off right away. Work up to him wearing the collar for a few seconds.
- Next, give a treat for putting on the collar, and another for having the harness’s strap lay on him, then take the harness off.
- Work up to him wearing the harness unbuckled for several seconds. Use 2—3 treats.
- Work up to him wearing it loosely buckled. Use 2—3 treats.
- Work towards only using 1—2 treats for putting it on and wearing it.
- Work towards him wearing it buckled securely.
- Work towards only using 1 treat for letting you put it on securely.
Training a cat to accept the leash
When using a harness to introduce two cats, I just want to be able to restrain the cat should he lunge at the other cat. But I do not want him to come to an abrupt stop. Here is how I train a cat to accept the leash for this purpose.
- Attach the leash and place a treat a foot in front of the cat.
- Keep a light tension on the leash as you follow the cat. Try to keep the leash straight up, i.e., perpendicular to his back.
- If he did not roll on his back, toss another treat, follow him, and remove the leash and the harness as he eats.
- If he does roll on his back to play with the leash, remove the leash and end the session. No treat. Don’t remove the harness for a minute or two. At the next training session, place the treat right in front of him as you put on the leash.
You may also enjoy reading my blog on how to pet a cat.
Patience Fisher owns Patience for Cats LLC, a cat behavior business based in Pittsburgh, PA. She is Associate Certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She holds a Bachelor’s in Biology, a Diploma of Feline Behavior Science Technology, and is a certified veterinary assistant. Check out her humorous YouTube video at her Patience for Cats channel. Visit her on Facebook at Patience for Cats.