From the moment I knew I was getting kittens, I wanted to train them for harnesses. It's worked well! This post is a lot of gratuitous kitten pictures, surrounded by a little bit of information. Here we go!
I made harnesses using a simple pattern of Simplicity 2393, Size A (XXS-M). I got it at JoAnn's during one of their "patterns are only $2 each" sales.
In order to get them used to the harnesses, I followed guides on the internet. Well, to be honest, I tried at first to just put the harnesses straight on them, and they just flopped over and refused to move. Then I went with the longer instructions, which generally go something like this:
- put the harnesses out near their food dishes/on the floor for a few days. Play with the cats with the harnesses - bat them around on the floor, etc.
- Then, while they are eating their favorite food, put the harness just on their neck, and take it off after they're done eating. Do this for a few days.
- Put the harness fully on them while they are eating for a few days.
- Put the harness on their neck and play with them while it's on for a few minutes.
- Put the harness fully on them and play with them for a few minutes. Gradually increase the time they are wearing the harness.
- Snap the leash on and let them explore outside!
- Start using treats to get them to follow when you tug gently on the leash.
As they got older and grew, I made new harnesses to fit them. My fully grown cats are on their third set of harnesses.
All of the harnesses have Star Trek swoops on them. My cats are on a mission to explore new worlds! And yes, I made sure none of them were red. :)
My cats are fully trained to wear harnesses, and they know it means playing outside time. Gnome in particular gets excited when I bring out the harness, even if it hasn't happened for a few months. I never did get around to leash training them, as I was just about to start doing so when DeForest had to go to the hospital. When he passed away, I couldn't look at the cats for months without crying, so leash training went out the window. It's also much harder to do with just me - it really takes one person per cat.
Even without leash training, I'm glad they know how to wear harnesses. It means I can stake them in the yard on a leash and let them scamper around. :) I'm planting a garden later this week, and I don't have to worry about them eating plants that will make them sick. I just make sure their leash doesn't reach the garden. (These cats will eat any plant that is around, as far as I can tell.)
I love my furry children! ~Kell