My kitten Aslan and I are embarking on another adventure together. I am leash training him! Training cats to walk on a leash, according to the good ol’ Internet, can be beneficial. Your cat get’s to explore the outdoors experiencing new sights and sounds, you both get exercise, it’s a chance for bonding, and it’s just plain fun.
Our journey began with fetch. Aslan brought me his little mouse toy dropping it in my lap. I tossed it down the hall, he jumped after it batting the toy around a few times, picked it up and ran it right back to me. This continued for several rounds. And then he did it again the next day. And then later that week.
It got me thinking about Aslan’s personality and how he might enjoy an outdoor stroll. He’s so bold. He’s been interested in the front door and what lies beyond. I had a leash and had tried several times to get our other cat Ganja outside for walks but to no avail.
To say she wasn’t a fan is an understatement.
Of course Ganja enjoys the outdoors. She actually thoroughly loves being outside and windows are a huge thing with her. Even back in Virginia at my parent’s house I’d let her go outside. But she never liked to go far and often got scared, running anxiously back into the house if there was too loud a noise or I myself went back inside. I’d even once had to take her camping – but that’s a whole other story in itself.
The point is, I’d tried to get my cat on a leash in the past and it had failed. I was a little afraid Aslan wouldn’t like it at all, but he’s actually okay with it so far and I’m excited to see how this all works out. Essentially to train a cat on a leash you have to:
- Introduce your cat to his harness and/or leash, let them get comfortable with it, and then have them try it on.
- Train your cat inside first. Maybe practice calling your cat to you and get him familiar with the feel of the leash.
- Journey outdoors, letting your cat dictate every move at first.
Much easier to do with a kitten than a grown cat. And especially with Aslan, who’s so curious and unafraid new things. He seems the perfect candidate.
He’s taken really well to wearing the harness so far. He’s comfortable moving in it (in fact, he’s passed out on my chest as I write this, wearing the harness and all). We took a brief step out the front door today and he explored the porch and under the carport before the rain came and chased us back inside.
He’s totally cute in his harness and leash!
However, the idea of turning Aslan into the leash walking cat of the house led me to one significant problem. How can I let him go outside if I don’t also let my girl Ganja outside? She loved the outdoors, but didn’t want anything to do with a leash life. We’d stopped letting her go outside not long after coming to Florida because of her scaredy cat ways and the neighborhood (and that she’d picked up fleas but we’ve taken care of that). I know she misses it. We keep windows open as much as possible and she enjoys sleeping on the couch overlooking the front yard very much.
So how could I let Aslan outside to walk without letting Ganja back into the outdoor world?
That was when I came across cat patios, otherwise known as Catios.
I remember seeing them a while back as a picture or link shared on my wall or something. I’d kinda forgotten it was a thing. But as I was surfing the web reading up on cat leash-walking tips I came across these ingenious, outdoor spaces built for cats. They range from tiny ledges outside your window to full blown cat cages fifteen plus feet tall with climbing posts, trees, ledges and furniture – basically anything you want.
Your cat enjoys all the luxuries of being outside, the fresh air, the sunshine, and of course the birds, all while within the safety or their box. This is the exact thing that would drive Ganja wild. And there’s basically no limits on what you can do with these Catios. Each house can have a custom designed Catio to fit the space or window available for use.
In my searches I found there are three basic Catios:
1. The Window Extension
2. The Backdoor Porch
3. The Outdoor Palace
Depending on your needs and budget there are an array of custom options you can build. I found myself very impressed browsing through Google images.
I think I’ve found the best of both worlds for my cats. They have such different personalities and yet both of them have the basic want to explore the world outside the front door. I don’t want to let them out around here without supervision so it seems like I’ve found the perfect solutions.
Of course Aslan will also enjoy the Catio. It’s going to take a little planning and time to get that finally set up, but I just know that it’ll be a hit once we do. Ours probably won’t be all that grand since this is a rental house, but I know I have something amazing that I can plan towards building when we eventually do move into our forever home.
For now, I’ll settle for teaching Aslan how to walk on a leash and to letting Ganja play outside in the front yard while I’m available to sit with her so she doesn’t get afraid. We’ll have their outdoor space built as soon as we can. As long as they’re safe and happy and I get to spend time with them then that’s what matters to me.
Heres to happy cats!