Step 2 - How to Harness Train Your Cat
Just as we love treating ourselves to chocolate after an achievement, cats love being rewarded.
We can use this to train our cat to wear and like their harness.
Each cat responds to certain rewards. This may be treats, toys, pats, play or even the good old “good kitty”.
Play around with all of these rewards to determine which ones your cat responds too. We suggest using a combination of rewards.
If you have clicker trained your cat, you can use clicker training too. For more on clicker training check out the Catexplorer Podcast episode on clicker training.
1. Introduce the Harness to Your Cat
A great way to introduce the harness to your cat is to allow them to sniff it.
Each time they sniff the harness, provide them with a reward, for example a treat.
2. Put the Harness on Your Cat
Once your cat is comfortable with being around the harness, it is time to start putting it on them.
Place the unfastened harness on your cat, and reward them.
As your cat becomes more comfortable with the harness start fastening it on them. Each time they wear the harness reward them.
3. Wear the Harness at Home
Once your cat is comfortable with the harness on them, it is time to get your cat to wear their harness at home.
Start with short bursts and slowly increase the amount of time they are wearing the harness.
Most cats will initially flop over while wearing the harness. This is because they don’t realise that they can move with the harness on. To remind your cat that they can move while wearing their harness, start playing with them. Use a wand toy to distract them from the harness and soon they will realise that they can actually move with the harness.
4. Small Trips Outside
It is time to start taking your kitty outside!
Choose a location that you are comfortable in, where there may not be many people, animals and noises. This could be a balcony, a courtyard, a backyard or even your apartment’s corridor.
Take you cat to this location and allow them to sniff. As they become more comfortable increase the duration of your trips outside.
5. Slowly Introduce Your Cat to Bigger & Longer Adventures
As your cat becomes more comfortable with being in a safe outdoor location, start taking them to other locations with slightly more sounds, people, animal etc.
As they become more comfortable, your adventures can become longer and more complex.
Make sure you watch your kitty closely and pull back if they ever seem uncomfortable or unhappy.
6. Consistent Exploring
Cats are like humans, if we don’t do something for a long time, we are likely to forget how to do it.
As such, while training your kitty to be a catexplorer, consistently explore with them so that they remember the skills they pick up.
At first short walks once a week work great and over time you can vary this as you need to.