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How to Harness Train Your Kitten

How to Harness Train Your Kitten
by Lucinda Beeman

Read time: 5 min

So you’ve got a kitten. And dreams of outdoor adventures together. You can harness train your kitten and safely explore the great outdoors. Here’s your guide to making it happen.

Why Harness Train Your Kitten?

First, let’s tackle the why. Harness training your kitten has some serious perks:

It’s safer than letting them walk off lead. Because a harness keeps your kitten safe from traffic, predators, and other outdoor hazards.

Your cat will find it interesting. Outdoor time provides mental and physical stimulation that’s hard to match indoors.

It’s great for bonding. Walking your kitten strengthens your bond and builds trust.

It’s excellent exercise. And helps keep your kitten fit and healthy, burning off that seemingly endless energy.

Getting Started: Choose the Right Gear

Before you begin, you’ll need the right equipment. Here’s what to look for:

A harness: Choose a harness specifically designed for cats. It should be lightweight, adjustable, and secure. Avoid collars for outdoor adventures — they're not safe for walking. As anyone who’s seen their cat slip right out of one can attest.

A leash: A lightweight, flexible leash that’s 4-6 feet long is ideal. Retractable leashes can be too unpredictable for training.

Step-by-Step Guide to Harness Training Your Kitten

Step 1: Introduce the Harness

Start by letting your kitten get used to the harness. Leave it near their favourite spots or in their bed. Let them sniff, investigate, and play with it. The goal is to make the harness a familiar, non-threatening object.

Step 2: The First Fitting

Once your kitten seems comfortable with the harness, it’s time for the first fitting. Here’s how:

  1. Choose a calm environment. And a quiet, stress-free time when your kitten is relaxed.

  2. Use positive reinforcement. By using treats and a calming tone.

  3. Take a gentle approach. Gently put the harness on your kitten, ensuring it fits snugly but not too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your kitten’s body.

  4. Keep the sessions short. At least at first. Let your kitten wear the harness for short periods indoors. And gradually increasing the time as they get used to it.

Step 3: Indoor Leash Training

Once your kitten is comfortable wearing the harness, it’s time to add the leash. Here’s how: 

Attach the leash. By clipping the leash to the harness and letting your kitten drag it around indoors. Supervise closely. To prevent any tangles or accidents.

Walk indoors. Gently hold the leash and encourage your kitten to walk with you. Use treats and praise to guide them.

Be patient. Start with short indoor walks. Gradually increasing the time and distance.

Step 4: First Outdoor Adventure

When your kitten is comfortable walking on the leash indoors, it’s time for the big outdoors.

Choose a safe spot. You want to stay in a quiet, secure area. Like your backyard. Avoid busy, noisy environments for the first outing.

Keep calm. Because your kitten will pick up on your energy. Stay calm and relaxed to reassure them.

Let them lead. Allow your kitten to explore at their own pace. Don’t pull or force them to move. Use treats and gentle encouragement.

Keep it short. And sweet. Gradually increase the duration as your kitten becomes more confident.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

My kitten is afraid.

 If your kitten seems scared or hesitant, take a step back. Spend more time indoors with the harness and leash, and use plenty of positive reinforcement.

My kitten keeps escaping their harness.

 Ensure the harness fits properly. If your kitten wriggles out, try a different style or size.

My kitten gets overstimulated.

If your kitten becomes overwhelmed outside, return indoors and try again later. Patience is key.

Harness training your kitten takes time and patience. (And plenty of Nibbles.) But the rewards are well worth it. So, gear up, take it slow, and let your kitten get their claws into the great outdoors.

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