Coco really is something special and my wife, Donna, and I found it very easy to leash train her.
However, our story starts on a sad note. On Father’s Day 2012 another beloved cat of ours, Ginger, was outside making her normal rounds visiting our neighbours. New neighbours had just moved in a few doors down and had their dog tied up in their yard. When this large dog saw Ginger he snapped his chain and attacked her. She died on the way to the Animal Hospital. We learned a lesson the hardest way. (My daughter reminded me that Ginger used to catch and kill birds as well.) 🙁
Fast forward to January-February 2014. My wife had been battling some health problems for years, and after two brief stays in the hospital, she decided it would help her recover if we had another kitty in our lives. We talked at length about how we could raise a new cat to be healthy, happy and safe while at the same time be a good therapy pet for Donna. We definitely did not want to lose another cat in the terrible way we lost Ginger, so leash training was a top priority.
When Coco, an orphaned rescue kitten, came into our lives when she was 6 weeks old, we could tell right away she was something special. Not long after we got her, and we felt she was comfortable with us, we put a collar on her. She didn’t mind it, so after another few days we clipped a leash on the collar and took her out around the house. She didn’t seem to mind being on a leash. We were also taking her for short drives in the car.
When she was 10 weeks old we drove to a place nearby and went for a brief walk. Coco didn’t seem nervous at all and we even let her climb a tree, but kept her within arms reach. As time went on our walks became longer and seemed more natural and enjoyable for all of us. We found out after a few weeks of walking that a collar is not ideal for walking a cat. Not only do cats slip out of a collar easily, their bones are too fragile for any tugging that might occur while on a leash. A harness designed for cats is the best and safest thing to use.
That’s how our experience with walking Coco on a leash started. She loves going for walks, and even though it seemed a bit embarrassing to me at first, now a walk wouldn’t be complete at all without having Coco with us. It’s great for Coco, and for us as well. I should mention that we also take Coco many places with us. About the only stores we can’t take her into are grocery stores. A lot people we cross paths with are very happy to see a cat on leash and out on the trails, etc. However, there are still many people who think it’s ridiculous to have a cat on a leash and give us strange looks and rude comments. I would have been one of those people years ago, but now any other cat I have in the future will be trained the same way Coco was. Over time people realized it wasn’t good for dogs to be roaming free, so hopefully more and more people will realize it’s the same for cats. If a person can make the effort to train a dog to walk on a leash, they can train a cat also. It will be harder for some than others, but it can be done. This email ended up being at bit longer than I planned, but I wanted to make it clear how Donna and I became passionate about training Coco to walk on a leash so she can be happy and safe. We hope we can help encourage and educate other cat owners to follow a similar path with their cats.