Harness and Lead Training with Layla

Updated: Mar 10

Some cats take to harnesses and leads quicker than others. I’m a very chilled out kitten so I mostly just put up with what my mum and dad ask me to do – it’s easiest that way, and I usually get lots of treats so it’s worth it.

Mum decided to start harness training me properly after I’d had my spay operation. Before that we tried on a couple of harnesses but honestly I just wasn’t into it. It felt so weird, my legs and paws just seized up and I couldn’t move. One of the harnesses was too big and the other one wasn’t the right shape for me.

After my operation, I wore a onesie for a week. I didn’t like it to start with, but I got used to it. Mum thought since I was already coping with wearing something, I should put my harness on as soon as possible. We bought a new harness that finally fit properly, and as soon as my onesie came off I put my new harness on. Mum had left it out for a few days beforehand, so it was on the bed, sometimes on the sofa, or on the floor, so I could get used to its look and smell and feel. Every time I went near it, I got a treat so I learnt pretty quickly that the harness meant food.

When I put it on, it was much comfier than my other ones and I wore it for a whole afternoon. The next day, mum helped me get dressed, clipped my lead on, and took me to meet one of her friends at a café in my backpack. We sat outside with a coffee, I did some exploring, and had a wonderful time. From then on, we went on more and more adventures.

I now have a warm weather harness, and a fleece for when it’s cold, as well as a couple of jackets if it gets really chilly.

Something mum reckons is really important is to understand how each other feels. She knows if I’m feeling a bit nervous, or a little unsure about something, and she reassures me by chatting to me, stroking me, and giving me treats. She also knows if I’m actually really unhappy and takes me away from the situation as soon as possible, if she needs to. She says that I won’t learn how to cope with new experiences if I don’t step outside my comfort zone; I know she’s right and I love going to new places, but I do sometimes need some help.

I always know my mum will look after me, and if I ever get worried or scared I go running back to her for help. My backpack is also a safe space for me, and I hop back in whenever I want a snooze or just to feel warm and cosy. I don’t really like walking on a lead, I prefer to do my own thing when I’m out of my backpack, but I don’t mind wearing it when we go out so that I can stay close to mum.

Some of my first adventures were at cafes, as well as a beach trip, and a walk in a park to watch the sunset.

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