A popular reason for people wanting to own Savannah cats is that most can be leash trained. This presents a great bonding opportunity between Savannah cats and their owners, as well as a great way to get exercise. However, you will have to learn how to train your Savannah to walk on a leash.
Training your Savannah to walk on a leash involves:
- Finding the right supplies
- Starting slowly
- Using positive reinforcement
- Introducing the leash indoors
- Repeating and rewarding
- Guiding your cat on the leash
- Bringing your Savannah outside
- Creating a routine
Throughout the rest of the article we will explore each step in greater detail to help better prepare you to leash train your Savannah cat. This will include helpful tips and tools to increase your chances of success. Additionally, we will cover the benefits of leash training and why it’s worth it.
Why Train A Savannah Cat To Walk On A Leash
Training your Savannah to walk on a leash is an excellent way of providing your Savannah with more opportunities for exercise but also to stimulate their mind. Savannah cats get bored easily and need different ways to keep them occupied or entertained.
Even if you have lots of space throughout your house for your Savannah to explore and play, eventually it will become familiar and sometimes dull for them. Giving them the opportunity to go for walks will introduce new sites, smells, and adventures for your Savannah. This is especially true if you have a smaller living space.
Going for walks can also help improve your Savannah’s sociability if you’re walking them through the neighborhood. Of course, you want to always use caution as some people may be walking their dogs or have young children who are not used to animals. Otherwise, it’s a great opportunity to introduce your Savannah to other people and maybe even other Savannah cats and their owners.
Even if you’re just walking your Savannah around your backyard, it will still provide them with the enrichment that they need. Being outdoors plays on your cat’s natural instincts and encourages them to explore and maybe stalk an insect or two. Just make sure they are not able to prey on birds or other small animals. A small pond is also a plus if your Savannah enjoys playing in the water.
How To Train A Savannah Cat To Walk On A Leash
1. Finding The Right Supplies
The first step in training your Savannah cat to walk on a leash it to find the right supplies. It is important that you find the proper harness and leash that makes your Savannah comfortable but also keeps them safe. An ill-fitting harness can allow your cat to slip out if it’s too loose or be extremely uncomfortable if too tight.
It’s also important to stress that you normally want to purchase a harness and not a collar for your Savannah. Cats are built differently from dogs making them more sensitive to compressive force on their necks and throat. The harness also allows for better freedom of movement while keeping your Savannah secure.
When selecting a harness, you should refer to a sizing chart that will help you find the proper fit for your Savannah. This is especially important if you’re ordering a harness online as you want to take measurements of your cat. If purchasing at a reputable pet supply store, you can bring your Savannah in and a store associate will help you find the proper size for your cat.
As for which leash to purchase, you just want to be sure it’s not too long. A popular choice by many cat owners is bungee leash with a length of about four feet. You want a controllable distance between you and your Savannah in the event you need to quickly retrieve them. The elasticity of the bungee also makes it less static, giving your Savannah some room to play with.
2. Starting Slowly
Once you have the proper equipment it’s time to start getting your Savannah ready for training. Begin by just putting the harness on your cat and allowing them to get used to the feeling of wearing it. This can be a challenge at first and your Savannah may not react positively. If they are being particularly difficult about wearing it, only work in short sessions of 5-10 minutes.
3. Using Positive Reinforcement
You can try putting the harness on before specific times of the day such as play or meal time, which will get your Savannah to associate the harness with something positive. This is why it’s also important to use other positive reinforcement such as treats or pets when they react positively. Reward your kitty for doing a good job, and eventually they will look forward to the harness.
4. Introducing The Leash Indoors
Depending on your level of commitment and your Savannah’s willingness, they should be wearing their harness comfortably after a few days, but it can sometimes take longer. Once they’re comfortable, you can begin attaching the leash to the harness indoors. You want to start indoors where it is safe and familiar and easier to guide your Savannah.
Initially when attaching the leash, you want to just let it drag behind your Savannah, don’t worry about holding onto it just yet. Holding the leash or tugging on it could ultimately scare or irritate your cat. This could cause them to lose interest in leash training all together. Although Savannahs have many similarities to dogs, they are trained much differently and require more patience.
5. Repeating And Rewarding
Continue to put your cat’s harness and leash on indoors at least twice a day until they have become completely comfortable wearing it. Remember to keep rewarding your Savannah for their good behavior and ability to wear their harness. Positive association goes a long way in combination with consistency.
6. Guiding Your Cat On The Leash
Now comes the hard part: successfully guiding your Savannah while holding the leash. This step will take the most patience but will be worth it in the end. Start by attaching the leash and taking a few steps in front of your Savannah making sure there is slack in the leash. You still do not want to tug or pull your cat, but instead allow them to be in control.
You may want to try holding out a treat or calling to your cat to encourage them to follow. They may just look at you funny, but if they’re treat-motivated they will more than likely come over. However, if you have a stubborn cat you may have to pick them up and move them slightly in the direction you want. After you’ve moved them forward give them a small reward and take a few more steps.
Keep repeating this process for about ten minutes, as you don’t want to go for too long or your Savannah could lose interest or feel overwhelmed. After about an hour or two you can begin again with another 10-minute session. You want to try and have at least three 10-minute sessions a day until your cat is successfully walking on the leash.
7. Bringing Your Savannah Outside
Now that your kitty is feeling confident walking around the house it’s time to try going outdoors. If you’re able, you want to start in the quiet privacy of your own yard, preferably fenced in to minimize distractions. However, if this is not possible try and find a less occupied grassy area away from other animals. You want to create a safe space for your Savannah that won’t cause stress.
At this point your Savannah shouldn’t have any issues walking around on their leash, but they still may just decide to flop over and lay down. Again, Savannahs are still cats, so their style of walking is going to be a bit different from a dog’s. They may just want to bask in the sun or slowly explore one bush or flower bed. Allow them to lead within reason and explore their surroundings.
8. Creating A Routine
The first day outside may be fairly uneventful and your Savannah may even want to go back inside quickly. Eventually your kitty will become familiar with the new sights, sounds, and smells and enjoy going for walks. Practicing a daily routine will get your cat excited for their harness and leash as well as benefit their overall health. Going for walks is great exercise after all.
As you get used to going for walks with your Savannah it’s important to still keep an eye out for possible dangers. The leash gives you control over your Savannah, but it’s important to look out for loose dogs or even other cats that may pose a threat. Be sure to stay clear of drains, grates, busy roads, and other areas you don’t want your kitty getting hurt or stuck.
Tools To Help Train A Savannah Cat
The importance of positive reinforcement cannot be overstated when it comes to training any animal. The use of treats and other rewards will be a constant reminder to your Savannah that if they do what you want them to do, a positive outcome will follow.
The use of positive reinforcement such as treats or pets will eventually be replaced by the feeling your Savannah gets from just being outside. They will notice when you pick up the harness and become excited to go outside without needing a treat. However, it’s still a good idea to give them a treat or lots of pets when you return from a walk.
The Right Commands
You want your Savannah to feel special and appreciated, which will make them more willing to be trained. Using commands in a soothing voice is another helpful way to show your kitty they are appreciated. Try using commands like “Outside?”, “Come here”, “Good kitty”, and even “no”. Although not strictly positive, the “no” command in a soothing voice is still helpful in training your kitty.
If you have a Savannah kitten you can start leash training early into their development. Kittens are easier to leash train as they are just starting to learn routines, and everything is new to them. They can begin harness training as young as two months, and you’ll want to purchase a harness that can grow with them. Otherwise, you will be buying a lot of harnesses!
Adults Can Be Trained Too
Contrary to popular belief you can still train an adult cat to be leash trained. This will require more patience than training kitten. Your adult cat already has an idea of what is normal in their everyday life and their established routine. Introducing the harness and leash will be very unfamiliar, causing them to feel quite weird about it. This is why patience and taking things slow are key.
Finally, keep it positive and don’t be discouraged if your Savannah doesn’t like the leash right away. Whether it takes you a few weeks or a month, stick with the training. It’s definitely worth the wait once you’re able to spend quality time with your Savannah strolling through town!
These steps will help you successfully train your Savannah cat to walk on a leash and harness. Walking your Savannah will improve their overall health, offering mental stimulation and physical exercise. Additionally, it offers a great opportunity for you to bond with your Savannah!