Why Won't My Cat Walk on a Leash?

Learn why some cats are afraid of leashes.

It's a common scenario—a loving cat owner notices their feline friend spending a lot of time looking longingly out windows, watching the birds and chipmunks play, and decides to get a leash and take the kitty out. But, surprisingly, the cat often wants nothing to do with it, rolling on her back and refusing to move or doing her best to dart off behind the nearest bush, looking terrified.

Why do some cats refuse to go for leash walks outside?

Cats Can Balk at New Experiences

Cats have a well-known reputation for not wanting to do things that aren't their idea. But what that actually means is they have an innate fear of the unknown. Their wild ancestors would have been well-served by such a trait. It may have kept them out of danger to ease into new situations, being carefully observant rather than rushing in headlong.

When you suddenly show up with a leash which the kitty has never experienced before, slap it on, and take the kitty immediately outside, she may experience intense fear and a desire to get away or freeze.

Can I Get a Reluctant Cat to Leash Walk?

Whenever you introduce something new to your cat, do so slowly and gently. The more you allow your cat to investigate, think about, and otherwise get used to something, the more likely she is to come around and go along with your idea willingly eventually.

Follow this suggested checklist to help your cat adjust:

Some cats will never allow leash walking, but most cats, if you're patient and positive, can be trained to go outside on a leash and have a nice time. Some cats will move through the above steps quickly, while others will take a long time to move through them. Go at your kitty's pace for the best results.

Before you take your kitty outside, make sure she is up to date on her vaccines, current on parasite prevention, has a microchip, and is wearing current identification tags. All that will help keep her safe if she should be exposed to something outside or somehow get away from you.