Friday, 25 January 2013

A cat harness and training can be a big help ~

I have a cat harness for each of my two cats and am very glad of them. I bought them so that I had the means of controlling them in the event of an emergency, and for use when exploring a new area when we move house.  

Although I haven't used them all that much and Louisa has never learnt to walk in one, both cats are familiar with them and Bonnie walks in hers quite contentedly - even though it's more a case of me following her around than of me leading!  Louisa is an energetic cat and tends to run about so getting her to walk in her harness would take more practice than I have yet given her.  

Here is Bonnie modelling her harness: you can see that there are two straps which fasten around the cat: one around the neck and the other around the body just behind the front legs.  These are joined together by another strap that sits between the shoulders:

A harness can be very helpful for carrying a cat as it gives you something to hold onto: yesterday I fetched a cat down from a high place with comparative ease.  He's a cat I know fairly well which helped, but what helped most was having a cat harness to put on him.  I climbed up to where he was and fastened it around him.  Although he had never come in contact with one before he raised no objection and didn't even wriggle.  I had a leash too which I attached - just in case some unexpected contingency arose, but didn't need it.  I looped it over my wrist out of the way. 

With the harness in place I was able to tuck the cat firmly against me, and hook the fingers of my right hand securely through the straps.  I knew I couldn't drop him and he must have felt my confidence because he was completely passive, and I was able to descend a ladder using just one hand.  It was only when I got him back into his own living room that he decided to express his exuberance - before I had time to unfasten his harness.  Leaping beyond the end of the leash he did a couple of athletic cartwheels before rolling over to tackle the leash, all of which was only to be expected, and in a few short moments I had him free, gave his armpits a good rub and he was absolutely fine.

After Bonnie's modelling session this afternoon the two of us walked down the garden together.  She decided to do a spot of 'gardening' on the way.  Now I call that a relaxed cat!

If buying one for your own cat be sure to spend time undoing and doing up the snap fasteners: of the two harnesses I have one has much smaller fasteners than the other, which I find difficult to manage.  Handling them in the absence of a cat is a different and far easier manoeuvre than actually putting them on or taking them off when one is working at a slight angle in amongst the fur of a cat which may be wriggling!  The one with the bigger fasteners is much more satisfactory.  

Then there is the fun of training your cat to wear one: the information I have been given is that short sessions regularly spaced which include and are followed by rewards for your trainee are the way to achieve your goal of a happy cat in harness, but I'm sure that your vet or their practice nurse will be a better source of information than I am! 

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