Being a hybrid of the wild Asian Leopard cat, Bengals have certain specific requirements.
One of these requirements is regular exercise, and the other is the need for outdoor exposure.
That’s why you need to conduct Bengal cat training sessions for walking on a leash.
This will not only allow it to experience nature firsthand but would also prove to be an activity in which your Bengal can healthily utilize its energy.
So, how to train a Bengal cat to walk on a leash? For this, you would need first to buy an appropriate leash and harness that fits your Bengal cat. After that, allow your Bengal cat to get used to the harness before walking it inside the house. Once your Bengal cat gets ahold of walking on a leash indoors, you can take it outside or to animal parks.
In this article, we’ll go through all the steps of teaching your Bengal cat (or any cat) to walk on a leash.
If you’re interested in leash training your Bengal, you might also want to read our article on the top 20 awesome tricks that Bengal cats can learn. It contains detailed instructions on how to teach them.
Step 1: Buy an appropriate harness and leash for your Bengal
There’s a critical pre-requisite to train your cat to walk on a leash.
And that’s to understand that cats do not walk like dogs.
When you hold a cat’s leash, it won’t just follow you wherever you go. Instead, you would often have to follow the cat.
That’s why using a leash alone is dangerous for a Bengal cat because if you end up pulling on the leash as your cat moves away, you might choke or injure your Bengal cat.
So, what’s the solution?
It’s as simple as this:
Buy a harness.
A harness will distribute the tugging pressure on the leash and will keep your Bengal cat’s neck and windpipe safe.
Now, you need to size your Bengal cat so you can purchase an appropriate-sized harness.
For this, measure your Bengal cat across its chest (under the neck) and behind its front legs.
How would you know if the size of the harness is a perfect fit for your Bengal?
With the right-sized harness on your Bengal cat, you can barely fit two fingers inside the harness.
Such a size ensures that your Bengal cat can’t wriggle out but is also not feeling uncomfortable in an awfully tight harness.
I’d say that you should probably buy a couple of harnesses to see which one fits best and keeps your Bengal cat calm.
A particular harness fits better, but it might make your Bengal cat feel uneasy while another harness might not be that snug a fit, but your Bengal might love it.
In such a case, go with the Bengal’s choice and avoid being one of those embarrassing moms who stubbornly choose what their kids would wear.
For leashes, you can purchase one which is specially made for cats instead of the dog variety. Cat leashes are often 3 to 6 feet long.
There are a variety of leashes to choose from; one viable option is the “bungee” leash which stretches and allows some leeway for your cat to wander.
Step 2: Letting your Bengal cat get used to seeing the harness
Here’s the thing:
Cats aren’t used to being confined by a jacket. In fact, that’s the last thing they want.
You need to understand that your Bengal cat would probably hate wearing the harness at first. Even making it used to the harness is a task in its own.
To help with that process:
Start by letting your Bengal cat get used to seeing the harness.
Put the harness close to its food bowl and let it stay for a couple of days.
A few Bengal cat owners also pick up the harness and just place it on the cat. If that helps your cause, then why not?
Another technique to help your Bengal cat get used to the harness is to place it in your dirty laundry for a night or two. This will transfer your smell to the harness and will make it more identifiable for your Bengal.
Cats associate smells with people, and if the harness smells like you, your Bengal cat would feel safe with it.
You can also place the harness down on the floor and put treats around it so your Bengal cat can associate the harness with happy thoughts and feelings.
Bengal cats are a handful, right? If you own one, check out our Bengal cat checklist. In that article, I outline the top 20 products that every Bengal cat owner should have along with my recommendations for those products.
Step 3: Getting your Bengal cat used to wearing the harness
Once your Bengal cat is used to the sight of the harness, you can start putting the harness on your Bengal.
But let me tell you:
Your Bengal cat would hate it when you make it wear a harness for the first time.
It would probably move a lot and wriggle to try stopping you from doing that.
From experience, I’d say that the faster you put that harness on your Bengal cat, the better it is for the both of you.
Once the harness is on, just let it stay for not more than a minute and take it off. Once you do, give your Bengal cat a treat, so it knows that it did an excellent job.
Next day, increase the time that your Bengal cat wears the harness and keep it on for about a couple of minutes.
Once you start feeling that your cat is now used to the harness, let it wear it for half an hour or an hour. Make sure you reward the Bengal for this good behavior and be empathetic towards its feelings.
If your Bengal cat absolutely despises wearing the harness, then it’s probably because:
- The harness is too tight
- The harness straps are too tight or broad
In that case, you’ll have to revisit step 1 and buy a harness with thinner straps or one that is a better fit.
This is where having that extra harness can come in handy if you took my advice in Step number 1.
Step 4: Let your Bengal cat move around with the harness
Once your Bengal cat has had the hang of wearing a harness for half an hour or so, you should allow it to move around the house while wearing the harness.
For this, leave the Bengal cat in the harness for a couple of hours.
A few Bengal cat owners have even left their cats in the harness all night, but your Bengal cat might get irritated if you leave the harness on for so long.
Whatever timespan you choose for keeping the harness on your Bengal cat, make sure you let your Bengal cat move around wherever it wants to and do not hinder it at that time.
Offer it treats so your Bengal cat knows that it’s being a good pet.
Once you take off the harness, offer it more treats and scratches.
If you’re looking for cat treats, check out our reviews for the top 7 Bengal cat treats for this year. I’ve spent hours looking for the best products out there so you wouldn’t have to.
Step 5: Walk your Bengal cat indoors
Once your Bengal cat is used to having the harness on, you should take the next step and start your Bengal cat training for walking on a leash.
For that, attach the leash to your harness and let the Bengal cat wander.
It is important to note that you should never walk with the leash in hand and make your Bengal cat follow you in the beginning. Keep the Bengal cat’s leash loose and let it move around while you follow it indoors.
As I mentioned in the beginning, cats don’t walk on leashes as dogs do. They would want to pace themselves and would have a hard time following you.
That is why it is advised to let the Bengal cat go wherever it wants to in the beginning.
During this time, it’s essential to keep your Bengal cat indoors as well.
If it goes outside, your Bengal cat would have a hundred different distractions and dangers.
You want it to remain focused on walking on a leash at this time and keep it safe from other dangers.
Also, the house would give your Bengal cat a sense of security and belongingness, which would help it to try its new activity of walking on a leash.
If you’ve ever owned a cat, you’d know that they are suckers for playing with strings and straps. So, the chances are that when you put a leash on your cat, it would start playing with it, biting it or won’t move at all.
What you need to do is divert your Bengal cat’s attention from the leash. For this, use your cat’s favorite toy.
You could keep the toy at a distance, so your Bengal cat moves towards it. When that happens, it will automatically start walking with the leash on.
Just hold the leash loosely and follow your Bengal. Offer lots of treats and scratches during this time.
Step 6: Take your Bengal cat outdoors for leash training
Now comes the day that you and your furball had been waiting for.
Your lovely Bengal cat had been practicing walking indoors for a long time, and you’ve finally graduated it to the outdoors.
If it took you a couple of months to reach this point, you’re still on time. Training a Bengal cat to wear a harness can be a tiring process.
Start by putting the harness on your Bengal cat while you are still indoors. Then clip the leash on as well and take your Bengal cat straight outside.
Having a front or backyard in your house is ideal for this scenario. If you do, make sure it’s secure by fencing it from all sides.
You’d also want to make sure that the timing and weather for your walk are right. If it’s too hot and your Bengal is to walk on pavement, its paws could potentially burn with the heat. You’d also want to make sure that it isn’t too cold or that there’s no forecast for showers in your area.
The reaction of every Bengal cat is different when it’s taken to walk outdoors for the first time. A lot of cats make for the door as soon as they are put on the ground.
If that happens:
Take a stand and keep your Bengal cat outside for at least 20 minutes. If your Bengal cat continues to move towards the door, pick it up and take it to a place from where it can not see your house’s entrance.
As soon as an object catches your Bengal cat’s attention, it would start to move around freely and would relax.
Let it play outdoors and move around while you hold the leash. But make sure that your Bengal cat doesn’t end up in a dangerous or inaccessible place like bushes.
Also, bear in mind that the location you choose for your first walk is essential.
Your Bengal cat should never roam around without you holding the leash, and it shouldn’t be able to move towards traffic.
It is also advised to keep a soft towel with you while you take your Bengal cat outside for walks. If any unexpected even happens, you can wrap your Bengal cat in that towel and rush back indoors.
Keep taking your Bengal cat outside every day and allow it more freedom as the days progress. You need to learn that you have a great responsibility on your shoulders to take care of your furball, so never let it out of your site when outdoors.
Also, learn how to adjust your walking session’s timing according to changing the weather. Observe what sort of items or places interest your Bengal cat. Go to such locations more often to make your Bengal cat perceives walking as a treat.
With experience, you’ll learn a lot of techniques and gain practical knowledge on how to maneuver your cat on a leash. A common mistake that a lot of Bengal cat owners make is that they pull on the leash opposite to where the Bengal cat wants to go.
Harnesses are not always wholly escape-proof. If you pull counter to your Bengal’s weight, there’s a real chance that your Bengal might snuggle out of its harness.
Walking sessions should generally be kept to 30 minutes and not more.
Step 7: Walk your Bengal cat in an animal park
This is the final and most fun step of teaching your Bengal cat to walk on a leash.
By now, your Bengal cat should have it all figured out on how to maneuver itself with a leash. So, it’s safe to say that you can graduate it from the backyard and take it to an animal park.
Animal parks are great places for socialization. If you have a Bengal cat, you’d know that it loves socializing with other animals and humans.
With so many animals around it, your Bengal cat would feel at ease and more connected to nature.
How to discipline a Bengal cat?
A lot of people perceive the Bengal cat to be “wild” because of its exotic coat. But the Bengal cat is quite a loving and smart breed.
Disciplining it is not a hard task at all.
Actually, a Bengal cat acts as any other domestic cat would.
One thing that you should keep in mind is to never discipline a cat by punishing it. You should also use positive reinforcement techniques.
If your cat follows your instructions, give it a treat and if it doesn’t, then don’t. You’ll often find that your Bengal cat wants attention and treats more than anything in the world.
Same goes for training a Bengal cat to walk on a leash. Throughout the time that you follow the steps outlined in this article, you should reward your Bengal cat for following them.
Such positive reinforcement would help your Bengal cat associate happy feelings with walking on a leash.
What if my Bengal cat doesn’t want to wear the harness at all?
This is certainly a possibility.
If your Bengal cat absolutely despises wearing a harness, you shouldn’t force it to wear one.
Imagine how you would feel if someone is imposing his wishes on you? We all hate that, right?
So respect your Bengal’s likes and dislikes and let it be. Play with it as much as you can so that your Bengal cat can involve itself in healthy playtime and utilize its excess energy.
Suki the cat: Bengal cat hiking
When you’re talking about outdoor Bengal cat celebrities, Suki is a big name.
It’s a hiking Bengal cat which has explored the wilderness of Canadian mountains, rivers, and canyons. Just like dogs, it loves going out and playing with water.
Do Bengal cats need to be walked? Bengals are active cats, and they need healthy activities to utilize their energy.
Walking is an excellent activity for your Bengal cat, but it’s not a mandatory one.
Nevertheless, teaching your Bengal cat to walk on a leash with you is certainly worth the effort.
Are Bengal cats easy to train? They sure are. Bengal cats are an intelligent breed that picks information quite readily.
Also, they are quite attention-seeking, so they would love the attention that you’d give them while training.
Just ensure that you reward them with treats and plenty of pats and Bengal cat training should be a piece of cake.
How do you teach a Bengal cat tricks? Bengal cats can learn dozens of tricks that many other cats would struggle with.
To teach your Bengal cat tricks, you would need to offer lots of positive reinforcement with treats and appreciate them for learning a new trick.
Bengal cats can sit, stand on two legs, jump, and even play the piano.