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Leash/Walking Jacket Training??

John Campbell

Site Supporter
Staff member
I definitely want to walk Elsa outside, but I know she will need some training to get used to it, and I know cats do not like change... Quick Question I hope?

At what age (or youngest) age should we start getting a Savannah Kitten used to to the Vest and Leash?

I am sure if you take a 3 year old, throw on a Vest and a Leash and take a 3 mile hike, things are not going to work out as planned... Opinions on this issue?

petuniajacket.jpg
To me, the kitten above certainly is not enjoying the jacket... At least not yet..
 

John Campbell

Site Supporter
Staff member
Thanks for the info... Geez... I did a search for that, and did not come up... Oh well.. Blind in one eye, can't see out of the other.. :)
 

Rafiki

Site Supporter
It took several weeks just to get Rafiki used to the walking jacket. I posted the video of her first time on this site yesterday. Getting her on a leash and outside was much easier. She adores Jammu so once he went out the door, she followed. It was the same way with my previous cats ... I trained Mandu and she controlled the other two. Hopefully Elsa will follow Jake.
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
Actually that kitten in the pic looks pretty comfortable in the walking jacket. Personally I don't think there's any age too young to start a kitten in a walking jacket, just jackets too big. I had a few extra-extra small walking jackets specially made by Neta Doyle so that I could start kittens around 5-6 weeks of age.

What I wouldn't recommend is throwing on a jacket when a kitten is still recovering from the stress of moving to a new home and bonding with a new owner. No matter how easily a kitten bops out of its carrier when it arrives, it is still a stressful event. Typically after a couple of weeks a kitten is usually settled in and ready for new adventures. Having said that, remember you are trying to toilet train her as well, so I would be careful how many new activities you introduce at one time...


Have you watched Leonard's videos on YouTube on harness/leash training your cat? If not, look for videos by lifeatthesharpend on YouTube.
 

John Popp

Site Supporter
I agree with Patti and no time is too early to start. First getting them comfortable with the jacket and then snugging it up as if you were taking them outside (this generally leads to them pretending like they are paralyzed). Trial walks on a leash indoors and once they are comfortable time to take a peek at the great outdoors.

When going outside, never let them cross the threshold of a doorway under their own power. This way you don't end up with a door darter. Same protocol every time going outside. Snug walking jacket, leash attached and in someones arms going out the door. Getting outside doesn't work without those things being in place and while it's certainly not the case it's important they believe it.

It may take several trips outside before your kitten is secure enough to be set down. Don't rush it and if it takes 3 weeks before their paws hit the ground, it takes 3 weeks. Also know that at some point something will startle your cat and they will try to back out of their jacket. Again make sure it's snug! Lastly, make sure those nails have a fresh trim, front and rear, as a scared cat doesn't need advanced artillery and you don't need to be headed to the hospital.
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
I usually start playing with the kitten with a wand toy as soon as I put the walking jacket on, this distracts it enough that it doesn't seem to mind as much. Play for a few minutes then wait and see what happens - as soon as it starts fussing over the jacket I start to play again. The first few times I only leave it on for a matter of minutes (15 or so) and gradually increase the time as their tolerance increases.

Once they're used to the jacket I usually clip the leash on and let them drag it about for a bit (always under supervision), then start picking it up and letting them lead me. Once they are comfortable with this I start trying to lead them. A wand toy is again a great way to 'guide' them where you want them to go, until they get used to walking next to you.

John is right about them trying to back out of their jacket when scared. It is imperative that the jacket is on snugly. On my larger cats I have actually put on two jackets before, for double security. What is most important is that when they start to back away don't pull with the leash to try to stop them - this just gives them greater leverage to wiggle out. Instead walk toward them and always try to keep some give to the leash. It may take a few seconds (seems like hours) for them to slow down long enough for you to grab them, but eventually you will. Most of my cats will settle once in my arms but if they continue to freak hightail it back to the house.
 

John Popp

Site Supporter
If they struggle to get out of their jacket I would try and walk to their side, not directly at them. That way I wouldn't be adding to the fear of whatever spooked them. The big thing is the only way possible for them to get out is backwards, so make sure you get tension off their lead when they are backing up.
 
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Patti

Admin
Staff member
Sorry, I disagree - if you put tension on the leash you give them leverage by giving them a force to pull against, with a slack leash there is no backing out because there is nothing pulling the jacket over their head as they back away from you.
 
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