How to Leash Train Cats

Why would you want to leash train cats and confine kitties from stalking and pouncing? Isn’t that mean? Actually, it’s not cruel, but without proper introduction, it can be a wee bit scary. In my Complete Kitten Care book, I call this LIBERATION TRAINING. Teaching your new cat to walk on a leash is a safety issue, but also means they get to venture beyond the confines of your house and into the yard and beyond.

This week during a cat consult, a pet parent asked about training her cat to walk on a leash. And with spring and summer weather now upon us, it’s a good time to revisit the notion. An adult cat won’t automatically understand the concept, though, so this blog not only explains the benefits of leash training to YOU, it also helps you purr-suade your cats to get a new leash on life. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

seren leash & table

Seren feels calmer when wearing her harness. Image Copr Amy Shojai, CABC

How To Leash Train Cats–Choose The Best Halter & Leash

I like the figure-8 harnesses because when the cat tugs (as nearly all will), the design tightens so they can’t wriggle out and escape. These often come already attached to a leash. The smallest size H-harnesses made for Toy-size dogs may also work. The jacket-style harnesses also work well for cats, particularly for big kitties. These fasten with Velcro and are adjustable for the best comfort fit.

When the harness and leash come separate, I recommend a light weight fabric leash that won’t weigh down the cat. A six-foot or shorter leash works well. You don’t need the kitty ranging too far from you for safety reasons, so I don’t recommend the retractable spooled leashes for that reason.

Whatever the style, it’s vital that the harness be fitted correctly for two reasons—first, a cat not used to the outside easily becomes frightened and lost if she gets away.

And second, even if she escapes the harness while inside the house, it teaches the cat that she CAN escape, so she’ll continue to fight the harness. You want the cat to accept the harness and leash so she can fully enjoy the benefits.

Training Cats–Really?! Yes!

Kittens are incredibly easy to leash train. I’ve had shelter kittens walk happily on leash within five to ten minutes of meeting them. It takes a bit longer with adult cats, but the technique for leash training your cat is the same whether she’s a kitten or a senior citizen cat.

Seren learned to walk on a leash when she was about five months old. At less that 7 pounds, I got her one of those tiny dog H-harness contraptions and had to adjust it down even farther. That of course was over 20 years ago, and times have changed. Today there are new options for kitty harnesses that are much more comfortable for the cat, and less likely for the pet to wriggle out.

Karma-Kat Walking Vest & Why Leash Train Cats

So I took a look around when Karma came to stay. Although Seren only rarely went outside on walks and never without her harness and leash, I suspect Karma may be more interested in an occasional ramble. Why do this? Well, for a couple of reasons.

KarmaHalter

Karma is still adjusting to his halter-vest. Image Copr Amy Shojai, CABC

First, I want Karma to be comfy wearing the equipment–and it actually seems to calm him down somewhat so that’s a plus! Also, wearing a harness gives me added grab-icity (something to hang on to) if he decides to wriggle around. I’ve found this to be very helpful with Seren during vet visits as she’s not a very happy patient.

Finally, because of the way Karma came to us–wandering up onto the back patio–there’s a chance he got away from someone. Yes, he’s now microchipped just in case that ever happens again. But ultimately, I want Karma to be very familiar with the immediate area surrounding our house, so he knows and can recognize HOME.

Lost cats rarely run far away from their house even if they get out, but they may hide–and if chased by a strange dog or (gulp!) coyote, they might race far away from familiar territory. This actually was part of the plot point in my second thriller HIDE AND SEEK, where the main character hung up a variety of wind chimes around the house that also served as audio signposts to the pets.

For Karma I chose a small dog harness that also works well for cats. Puppia comes in a variety of colors and sizes and there are many other options that may also work well for your cat. You can check it out here:

PUPPIA International Puppia Harness Soft B Vest SKY BLUE Medium

How to Leash Train Cats, Step-By-Step

Make It Part of the Furniture. Leave the halter and leash on the floor for your kitty to find.

Smell It Up. Make the halter smell like him by petting him with it, so it’s less frightening. Remember, cats communicate with smell, so if it has a familiar scent, the cat will be more accepting of the halter. If he really likes catnip, spike it with this cat-friendly herb.

Turn It Into A Game. Drag the leash around like a toy, and praise Kitty when he catches it, to associate the leash with fun times. Make the leash-chase-game part of his routine, always beginning the process with the halter-petting. Do this for at least a week before you ever attempt to put the halter on your cat. Once the leash and halter have become part of his normal routine, sit on the floor to play with the cat put the halter on him.

Lure Him to Move. If he tolerates wearing the halter and immediately moves around or licks it—BRAVO! You have a genius cat ahead of the game. But if he turns into a furry lump and refuses to move (typical of many cats), use the end of the leash to get him engaged in that familiar chase game.

The key is to get them moving, because once he does get up and discovers he’s not “tied down” he’ll be willing to explore—and that’s the whole purpose of the halter and leash training. If he’s not interested in the leash, try using a feather lure or a treat—anything to convince the cat he’s able to move is legal. After five minutes, take off the halter.

Baby Paw Steps. Gradually increase the amount of time that he wears the halter.

Bribes Are Legal. Be sure to offer a special treat or toy/game after each session so he recognizes there is a lovely payday to be earned.

Let the Cat Lead. After several days, when he’s no longer protesting, clip on the leash and hold it while following him around. Let him direct where you go, rather than pulling or tugging to direct him. At least initially you want him to believe he calls the shots—use the feather lure to get him moving the direction you like.

KarmaHalter2

“Hey, I really can move in this thing!” Image copr Amy Shojai, CABC

Success At Last!

Eventually, when both you and Kitty feel secure on the leash, you can explore the porch, smell the roses, or even mall walk together. Be one of those fashionistas who visit the pet products stores and allow Kitty to choose his own toys!  And if you wish to make a really bold fashion statement, I know for a fact that kitty halters and leashes come with sequins.

By the way, the first two times I put on his vest, Karma pulled the old OMG I’M PARALYZED! routine and fell over on his side and lay there. Even my standard technique of teasing him to move with cat wand toys failed to get him up and moving more than two or three wobbly steps. So I took off the leash, and walked into the other room for something and….IT’S A MIRACLE! he raced in after me, stopped as if caught in his act, and sauntered on into the room. Now he’s rocking his kitty vest!

Do your cats ever go outside on leash (or otherwise?). How do you ensure they stay safe? Have you created scented or audible or special visual signposts to aid a new pet to know that THIS is home? Does allowing them outdoor access “create a monster” so they beg to go out? I found that happens with some cats, but never has been a problem with Seren. We’ll find out about Karma.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

NOTE: From time to time, blog posts contain affiliate links to Amazon and other fine retailers, but Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog only includes relevant product mentions.

Rottweiler to the Rescue! Trained to Serve, a Lei Crime KindleWorlds Novella

Lei Crime Kindle WorldLove me some Rottweiler police dog…and it’s here! Release day for TRAINED TO SERVE: Keiki & Lia Thriller #2 in my Lei Crime KindleWorld novella series. YEE-HAW!

For today’s Thriller Thursday, I’ve got a COVER REVEAL and book launch announcement. Y’all learned about this Rottie hero last summer (details here).

Keiki is a police dog in Toby Neal’s crime series partnered with Detective Lei Texeira . . . so my novellas explore how she became a police dog. Her story begins in BORN TO LOVE as a four-month-old baby, and now continues the story.  (Yes, there are dog viewpoint chapters!).

ROTTWEILER TO THE RESCUE!

Trained To Serve book

Choices and challenges will bind them together … or break them apart.

Ten-month-old Rottweiler Keiki thrives on each test of her growing abilities, but strange new yearnings mystify and distract her. What’s a good-dog to do? She doesn’t want to let the girl down.

Lia Corazon has only three days left to prepare Keiki for the police dog test. There’s more than the dog’s future at stake. Success will save Lia’s dream of rebuilding her North Texas dog kennel. Failure means a lifetime of living her grandparents’ dreams.

When a training exercise takes a deadly turn, Lia sends Keiki to protect a young girl, but who will protect Lia? There’s a killer on the loose and he’ll burn anybody who gets in his way.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE BOOK!

Come Join The *Virtual* Book Release Party!

There are a dozen Lei Crime KindleWorld authors releasing our novellas today. So from 3-11:00 pm EDT, we’re hosting a Facebook meet-and-greet with some fun give-aways to introduce everyone to this amazing series. The creator of Lei Crime books, Toby Neal, will be there, too (WOOT!).

CLICK HERE to join in all the fun–and, I’ll be giving away kewl jewelry, AND a print copy of one of my thrillers (with the new cover design *s*).

To ENTER the give-away, sign up here!

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

NOTE: From time to time, blog posts contain affiliate links to Amazon and other fine retailers, but Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog only includes relevant product mentions.

4 Kinds of Cat Aggression, and How To Keep the Peace

Cat aggression? Yikes! When a snuggle-puss turns into a snarling ball of claws, owners are at a loss to understand or deal with cat aggression. Besides hurt feelings, cat aggression can cause injuries or cause the cat to lose a loving home.

4 KINDS OF CAT AGGRESSION

Aggression can be caused by health issues including pain or hyperthyroidism. Any sudden personality change demands a veterinary exam. But cats don’t aggress because they’re mean—they always have a good reason, whether it makes sense to humans or not. Recognize these 4 common types of cat aggression and learn how to keep the peace.

Petting Aggression

Your cat begs for attention, but then he bites you! Karma does this–ouch!

Some cats simply can’t tolerate more than two or three strokes and use the “leave-me-alone-bite” to stop the petting. The bite does stop the owner’s touch, which trains the cat that biting works so he repeats the behavior.

Instead, confine petting to back of kitty’s neck rather than whole-body strokes that some cats find offensive. Stop petting before he asks—his ears will turn sideways or flatten, and tail gets active right before he nails you. Don’t touch him, just stand up and dump the cat off your lap.

cat fight

Play Aggression

Kittens don’t know how to inhibit bites and claws during play, and “only kittens” target owners in painful play-attacks. Luckily, kittens are made so cute we usually forgive them—and most outgrow the behavior by six to nine months or so.

This is one of the few behavior problems that can be fixed by adding another kitten to the household.  Yes, I’m giving you permission (like you need that!) to go out and adopt another cute baby. That way the babies play-attack each other, and learn to pull their punches. At my house, it’s been helpful because Karma likes to play with Magical-Dawg, and Magic enjoys the games, too.

scared cat

Scared cats crouch and may hide under the bed, or lash out with aggression when they feel threatened.

Fear Aggression

Most cat aggression arises from fear. The “fight or flight” instinct means if a frightened cat feels she can’t escape, she’ll attack. Cats also naturally fear strangers, and consider anything unknown and familiar a potential threat. That’s why it takes many cats a long time to accept new people or new cats. Fearful cats hide, slink close to the ground, turn ears sideways like little airplane wings, and hiss which means “stay away.” Growls are a step up and are a serious warning to stay away or risk an attack.

Give fearful cats space, extra hiding spots like cardboard boxes or cat tunnels, and elevated perches to help them feel safe. In multicat homes, provide a house of plenty with multiple toys, litter boxes, cat trees and resources so cats don’t have to compete for them. Direct stares intimidate cats and increase fear, so avoid making eye contact. Sit on the floor with an interactive toy like a fishing pole or feather lure, and tempt the scaredy-cat to approach. You’re less frightening when on the cat’s level.

Redirected Aggression

Redirected aggression happens when the cat can’t reach the intended victim, like a critter outside the window. Instead, kitty takes out upset feelings on the nearest pet or the owner. It’s like being mad at your boss—you can’t chew him out so instead lose your temper with a spouse. Redirected aggression is tough to solve because each cat fight “practices” aggressive behavior until it can become a habit. Use these steps to mend fences.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT CAT-TO-CAT REDIRECTED AGGRESSION

  1. Immediately separate the cats for two or three days. Begin an introduction protocol, as if the cats are total strangers (they ARE!), so they can learn to be friends again.
  2. Next, allow one cat out while the other stays confined, so they can meet with paw-pats and smells under the door.
  3. Feed both cats on opposite sides of the door so they associate good things with each other’s presence.
  4. After a few days of no growls, hisses, or airplane ears, allow supervised interaction.
  5. Separate immediately and start reintroduction again if the cats aggress.
  6. Be sure to cover windows and block sight of the evil squirrel that created the angst. If you see your cat window watching, avoid petting until his tail talk calms down.
  7. For more specific tips, check out my ComPETability/Cats book!

What about your cats? Some aggression is normal but–do you have cat aggression issues with your furry wonders? How do you manage the angst? Do tell!

 

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

NOTE: From time to time, blog posts contain affiliate links to Amazon and other fine retailers, but Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog only includes relevant product mentions.

Your Chance to Win Kindle Fire and 57 Crime-Thriller Fiction Books!

Have you seen this awesome thriller giveaway from BookSweeps? You can win my book SHOW AND TELL, plus books from authors like J.T. ELLISON and TWIST PHELAN, and a Kindle Fire. This giveaway ends soon, so make sure you hurry and enter! Good luck!

Chills, thrills and spills with Thriller Thursday by Amy Shojai

ENTER THE CRIME & THRILLER BOOK GIVE AWAY

SUMMER READING just got PAW-some! Yes, I’m part of this massive give-away and actually, I signed up, too. You don’t want to miss out on these great stories.

CONTEST ENDS MONDAY, MAY 8 so don’t DELAY!

Join the fun here! bit.ly/crime-fic-may-17

When you’re done, tell me you signed up in the comments–and let me know which books you’re most excited to win!
Book Sweeps Promotion

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

WHY PETS SHED & 6 TIPS WHEN THE FUR FLIES

Pets shedding may be a big hairy deal—but it is normal. Magical-Dawg leaves drifts of black fur everywhere. Karma-Kat and Seren-Kitty also shed, even if their lighter hair doesn’t show up on the light carpeting quite so much.

Floating fur increases the challenge of keeping dry cleaned apparel a Fido-free zone. Unless you’re a passionate pet lover who considers pet hair to be a condiment, understanding how to tame the hairy mess will keep your pet’s coat and skin healthy and simplify housecleaning.

Combing it out means it won’t be swallowed–and end up on your carpet!

Why Pets Shed

It’s not the temperature that prompts shedding. Light exposure, either to sun or artificial light, determines the amount and timing. More hair is shed during the greatest exposure to light. Outdoor cats and dogs living in the northeastern United States shed with the seasons, with the most fur flying in late spring for the several weeks during which daylight increases. But house pets under constant exposure to artificial light shed all year long.

Hair grows in cycles beginning with a period of rapid growth in the spring, followed by slower growth, and then ending in a winter resting stage. Mature hairs loosen in the follicles over the winter. In the spring, another cycle of hair growth begins, and new hair pushes the old loose ones out, resulting in an all-over shed.

Poodles shed–but not as often

What Cats and Dogs Shed Most or Least

All cats and dogs shed—even shorthair pets—but some breeds prompt more aggravation. The so-called “non-shedding” curly coated dogs like Poodles just have much longer fur-growing seasons in which hair continuously grows for years at a time. They tend not to lose huge amounts of hair all at once. Shed hairs get caught and held in curly coats so shedding isn’t as obviously left on the furniture.

Shorthair pets like my cats shed just as much but the tiny hairs don’t create furry drifts. “Double coated” shedding German shepherds, Chows, and Persian cats may look moth-eaten when they shed clumps of fur at a time.

Sphynx cats also shed–you just won’t notice!

Matts, Hairballs & Hotspots

Thickly furred pets develop mats when fur is trapped and tangled next to the skin. Mats are terrific flea habitat and create bruises. Dogs also can develop painful hot spots—a moist bacterial skin infection—from mats. Hairballs develop when the dog or cat swallows shed fur during self-grooming. Find more info here:

Cat Hairballs & Shedding: 7 Tips to Solve the Big Hairy Deal

Dog Hot Spots & Home Remedies

 

6 Tips for Controlling The Shed

You can’t stop shedding, but you can reduce the aggravation to yourself and health risks to your pet.

Groom Every Day. Religious fur care prevents problems and keeps skin and coats healthy. Make sure you groom outside or in an area easy to clean, or you’ll deal with a furry tornado inside the house. Seren-Kitty at age 21 doesn’t groom herself any more, so she relies on Karma-Kat’s help–and mine.

Choose Good Tools. EZ-Groomer (www.ez-groomer.com) is a cheap, light weight, claw-shaped tool that works well to break up established mats and to pull off shed fur. The pricier Furminator FURminator Long Hair deShedding Tool for Dogs, Large (also comes for cats) won’t work on mats, but the close-fitting teeth pull off 80 percent of loose fur. A standard comb, or curry or pin brush also works.

Pet Away Fur. For shorthaired pets that hate grooming but love petting, try rubber-nubbed grooming “gloves” like the 2-in-1 Pet Glove: Grooming Tool + Furniture Pet Hair Remover Mitt Or slip the foot-end of old pantyhose over your hand and pet to pull off shed fuzz.

Target Problem Areas. Pay particular attention to mat-prone areas behind the pet’s ears, beneath his tail, and in the “arm pits” and groin regions. Longhair cats also develop tummy mats.

Take Your Time. There is no rule that says you must comb or brush the entire pet at one setting. Space it out over several hours or days. Most dogs and cats have “sweet spots” they love to have scratched, so finish on the cat’s cheeks or the dog’s chest. End each session with a favorite treat or game so your cat or dog identifies grooming with good things.

Ask A Pro. If you aren’t able to manage grooming yourself, have it professionally done by a groomer or veterinarian. “Lion cuts” that shave wooly pets for the summer can prevent problem mats or hot spots.

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

NOTE: From time to time, blog posts contain affiliate links to Amazon and other fine retailers, but Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog only includes relevant product mentions.