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Welcome, Crazy Cat People!
Ever seen a cat walking on a leash and wondered if you could train your Maine coon to walk on a leash too? Well my friends I’m here to tell you that you most certainly can and I am going to show you how to achieve this step by step!
Training your Maine coon to walk on a leash is a very good way to expose them to the outdoors without all the associated risks. It’s important to train them slowly and to make sure you use a cat safe harness and leash. Start by training them indoors first before letting them explore the outdoors.
Throughout this post, we look at what age is best to start training your cat and how often you should walk them and then I will guide you step by step on how to achieve this!
So keep reading crazy cat people to learn more!
I made an ULTIMATE GUIDE on how to train your Maine coon and how to teach them a variety of tricks! Click here now to take a look or bookmark for a later read!
Essential Items To Begin Leash Training Your Maine Coon
To make things easier for you I have put together a list of essential items you will need when you are training your cat to walk on a leash.
The first item you will need for any form of cat training is a clicker!
What exactly is a clicker and what is it for?
A clicker is a device that makes a clicking sound, the idea is to associate the clicking sound with a reward. So when your cat does something correctly in training sessions you then click and always reward with a treat.
It makes training a lot easier!
I would personally recommend this cat training set that contains a clicker with a target stick and a handy booklet that teaches you how to train your cat to do a variety of different tricks.
Click on the image below to check out the price of this set on Amazon
Next, you are going to need a cat safe harness and a leash, a harness is super important because unlike a dog a cat should never be taken outside with just a leash and a collar.
I recommend this reflective one so you can see your cat at night and make them visible to other people, such as dog walkers. It is adjustable but also escape-proof and comes with a leash.
Next, you must have a good stock of treats and what cat doesn’t like those tasty temptations!
If my cats are anything like yours if you leave these tasty treats around they will rip open the packet and devour them all.
Rewarding your cat when they follow along with training is essential so why not stock up and get this EXTRA VALUE 30oz tub of temptations. Check them out by clicking here or on the image below!
Is It Cruel To Walk A Maine Coon Cat on a Leash?
As long as you prepare your cat to go outdoors in no way is it cruel to take your Maine coon out on a lead?
However, it’s important with leash training to respect your cat’s wishes and make this about them not you. If they don’t want to go outdoors after training them as outlined later in this post then please don’t force them, some cats just prefer their indoor life and we must respect that.
If your cat is what we call a door dasher who tries at every opportunity to run to the door to escape or they hang around a lot by the door then they may be a perfect candidate to train and should be confident to explore the great outdoors.
What is cruel is if you force them outdoors or if you don’t buy the correct equipment. A cat should never be taken out without a harness and just a collar and leash. They are not dogs and will easily try to escape from a collar and leash.
When taking them outside mitigate any potential risks the same way you would do indoors and prepare for their journey outside. Will there be dogs around? Are you able to take a backpack you can put your cat into if needed to protect them from others animals or large dogs?
If you prepare and you train them correctly then taking them outdoors on a leash is certainly not cruel in any way.
How Often Should You Walk A Maine Coon on a Lead?
The choice on how often you walk your Maine coon is totally up to you! Just remember with cats routine is key for a happy confident life.
They will learn to know that certain actions such as picking up the leash and walking to the door will signal it’s time for them to go out. Keeping a routine with them at the beginning is especially important to reduce any anxiety.
Once they are established and confident with going out you may find your Maine coon asking at the door to go out frequently, remember Maine coons behave just like dogs so if you don’t want to have them begging at the door then it may not be a good idea to start taking them out in the first place.
What Age To Leash Train a Cat?
There is no limit on the age you can start to train your cat to walk on a leash.
Some people say the sooner you do this the better. I would personally wait until they are 8 months to 1 year old because if they are too young then this may impact their ability to concentrate on any form of training.
I know I have mentioned this already but age isn’t a massive factor it more depends on your cat’s personality and if they want to venture outdoors or not.
How to Train a Maine Coon To Walk on a Leash?
So now it’s time to train your Maine coon!
Before we look at the step by step process I think it’s important to let you know that this will require patience. You can’t just buy a harness and leash and place it straight onto your big furry friend.
Chances are they will be one unhappy cat!
Patience is required and this is why we carry this process out slowly.
Don’t be afraid to backtrack if you feel like you are not making progress or your Maine coon becomes stressed and most importantly if you become frustrated your Maine coon will pick up on it straight away, they are naturally empathic.
Charge the clicker
What on earth do I mean by charging the clicker? If this is your first time training your cat you may have not used a clicker before.
Charging the clicker means building up a positive association of reward with the clicker. So make sure that every time you click the clicker you hand the cat a treat. Never make that clicking around without offering a reward.
Once your cat knows for definite to expect a reward each time then you can move on to the next step.
Get them used to the harness
For this step, you want to dedicate a full week to them getting used to the harness.
First, just leave the harness around the home ideally in a location your cat hangs out. You could place it near their bed or a favourite place they enjoy playing. Periodically throughout the day throw some treats on the harness to start building up that positive association.
Next, you want to desensitise your cat to the sound of the velcro opening on the harness and the way we achieve this is by exposing them to the sound by opening the harness and then straight away offering them a treat.
Now we have got them used to the sound of the harness you can begin to stroke their body with the harness and rub the harness under their belly while offering them some more of those tasty temptation treats.
If at any point your cat starts to back away and won’t let you touch them with the harness then take a break and try again later.
Take these steps slowly, the slower you take these steps the more chance of success you will have when it comes to your cat wearing the harness comfortably.
Start to introduce wearing the harness
Next, we want to get the cat used to the feel of the harness around their body.
So start by placing the harness on your cat’s back without fastening it up in any way, give them a treat and then take the harness away.
Once your cat feels comfortable with the weight of the harness you can now progress onto fastening the harness under the belly while offering treats and then removing the harness.
Next up you guessed it! Now it’s time to fasten both straps of the harness and reward again with a treat.
Now leave the harness on for a while and encourage your cat to walk around and leave a small trail of treats on the ground so they get used to moving with the harness on. Leave them in the harness for around 10-15 minutes and let them explore and become comfortable.
Attach the leash to the harness
Well done for getting this far.
Congratulations! If your Maine coon is now comfortable in the harness then you have completed the hardest step!
Attach the leash to the harness and get them to move around. The way you can achieve this is by using the target stick on the clicker training set I recommended earlier in this post from Amazon.
Place the end of the target stick in front of your cat a short distance away from them and when they touch their nose to the stick and take steps forward then click the clicker and offer a treat, slowly getting them used to walking around the home.
Walk them around the home in the harness and leash for a few days in short sessions of no longer than 10 minutes and remember that every time they wear the harness and walk around to offer treats.
Eventually, you won’t need to offer as many treats. Once they are used to walking outside then just give them a treat once the harness is on and once they return home.
Time for the great outdoors!
Now it’s time to introduce them to the great outdoors!
Take them outside on a grassy area to start with where there will be no other distractions such as other pets and dogs.
Remember this is new territory for them so they may be scared at first. It’s a good idea to crouch down on the grass a short distance away from them and shout them over by their name and when they walk over to you then click and reward.
Repeat this frequently at the beginning of their walks as this will teach them that if the worse was to happen and they manage to break free from the harness or escape that when you call their name they will come back to you.
Once you have built up their confidence then you can venture out a little further.
It’s a good idea to make sure you can pick them up straight away if any dogs are not on their leads to protect your cat.
Remember that it is a very different experience walking a cat than a dog. They may want to stop in one spot for quite a while before moving on and you will feel at times like your Maine coon is walking you rather than you walking them.
So there you go! If you have followed these instructions you are now able to walk your Maine coon outdoors.
Just remember that if your Maine coon isn’t cooperating then at some point you may have to realise that they may just want to stay indoors in their safe place.
Dont be angry at your cat for this, respect their individuality. One of my cats won’t go outdoors, he loves the home too much and even if I open the front door he will just sniff at the edge of the door and run back inside. He loves the sofa, the bed and his comforts too much.
I hope you have taken value from this post and please feel free to check out my other related articles in this series!
Check out these other cool posts within this series
Click the links to take a look
As always take care of yourself and your little fur babies!
Mark (The Crazy Cat Man)