Ragdoll cats are often described as being ‘dog-like’ due to their happy, friendly personalities – but can they be walked on a leash, just like a canine?
It’s a question would-be owners (especially those who enjoy staying fit) might be keen to get an answer to if they’re thinking of buying or adopting a Ragdoll cat.
In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about putting a leash on your Ragdoll to help you decide whether it’s the right move for you and your cat.
Do Ragdoll cats like wearing leashes?
The answer: it depends. Some Ragdoll cats will be perfectly fine with wearing a leash or walking harness, while some will hate it and find it constrictive and uncomfortable. The only way to find out is to try placing one on your Ragdoll and gauging their reaction.
It will become instantly clear as to whether your Ragdoll is a pro-leash or anti-leash cat.
My Ragdoll, Poppie, has always shown an intense dislike for anything that resembles a leash or collar.
The first time my wife and I brought out a collar, she transformed from a Ragdoll into a furry little ninja, disappearing before I could even approach her.
So, instead, we decided to microchip Poppie for registration purposes and allowed her to roam freely in our backyard for exercise – always under my watchful eyes, of course.
Her love for the outdoors was apparent, and she seemed to relish her exploration time, sniffing out every corner, chasing after bugs, nibbling on grass and occasionally just basking in the sun.
But, just because my Ragdoll doesn’t like wearing leashes, that’s not to say others don’t.
I’ve seen plenty of videos online of other Ragdolls being walked on leashes and looking perfectly content and happy.
At the end of the day, it will come down to each individual cat’s preference and whether or not they feel comfortable wearing a leash.
Is leash training right for your Ragdoll cat?
Ragdolls cats, with their adaptive nature and social tendencies, often fare well with leash training. The experience can deepen your bond and allow your cat to safely enjoy the outdoors. However, every Ragdoll is an individual and just because they can be leash trained doesn’t necessarily mean they will take to it seamlessly.
Essentially, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no.
It depends on various factors, including your Ragdoll cat’s personality, your patience and persistence, your cat’s tolerance and responsiveness to training, and the lifestyle you wish to share with your feline companion.
You should always gauge your cat’s comfort level and willingness throughout the process of leash training to determine whether or not to continue with it.
- Are they showing signs of stress, or are they exploring and enjoying their surroundings?
- Is leash training becoming a positive shared experience, or is it causing undue strain on your relationship?
These are important considerations that can help guide your decisions.
If you’re prepared to face the challenges with patience and consistency, the rewards of leash training your Ragdoll can be immense.
It can provide a safe way for your cat to explore the world, help them get exercise and provide enrichment to their day.
However, it should always be an enjoyable experience for both of you.
Challenges and difficulties of leash training Ragdoll cats
Training a Ragdoll cat to walk on a leash is a unique process, and it can present several challenges.
As you embark on this journey, you’ll need to be aware of the potential difficulties they may encounter, some of which I’ve outlined below.
Fear of restraint
Like many cats, Ragdolls may instinctively fear restraint, equating the sensation of a leash or harness to being caught or trapped.
Therefore, the process of introducing and acclimatizing a Ragdoll to a harness can take time and patience.
A gradual introduction, positive reinforcement and allowing the cat to associate the harness with positive experiences can help mitigate this fear.
Distractions and diversions
Ragdolls are curious creatures. When taken outside, they may be incredibly interested in their surroundings.
Birds, bugs, leaves, grass and new scents can catch their attention, leading to frequent stops and starts during a walk.
As an owner, you should be prepared for leisurely and exploratory walks rather than straightforward strolls.
Stubbornness and independence
Unlike dogs, cats are not historically bred to follow human commands, and this includes Ragdolls.
There might be times when your Ragdoll simply refuses to walk or moves in a direction contrary to where you intended them to go.
Learning to navigate this independent streak can require a flexible mindset, allowing your cat to lead sometimes.
Every Ragdoll is unique and will adjust to leash training at their own pace. Some might take to it quickly, while others require more time and patience (or never adjust to it at all).
Don’t be disheartened if your Ragdoll doesn’t immediately take to the leash; consistency and patience can yield positive results over time.
Outdoor environments can sometimes be unpredictable and pose potential dangers for cats.
Unexpected noises, other animals, or even human interaction could spook a leashed Ragdoll.
Be vigilant during walks, ready to protect your cat if necessary (as Ragdolls aren’t great at defending themselves), and select safe environments for your outings.
While these challenges may seem daunting, with patience and understanding, many Ragdoll owners have successfully leash-trained their cats, turning what seemed like an impossible task into a rewarding shared experience.
Tips and tricks for leash training a Ragdoll cat
The journey to successfully leash train a Ragdoll cat can certainly be a winding one.
But don’t worry, it’s not all uphill! Here are some handy tips and tricks that can smooth the way.
Take it slow
Always remember, “slow and steady wins the race.” Gradually introduce the harness and leash to your Ragdoll. Let them sniff and play with these items to develop a positive association.
Familiarize before fastening
Before you attempt to put the harness on your Ragdoll, leave it in their space. This can mean near their sleeping area or around their play zone. This familiarization will help reduce their fear or nervousness when the harness is finally put on them.
Treats can be an effective tool in reinforcing positive behavior. Reward your Ragdoll when they allow you to put on the harness or when they walk nicely with it. This positive reinforcement will make the experience more enjoyable for them.
Create a safe space
Begin your leash-walking journey indoors or in a safe, enclosed outdoor space where there are minimal distractions. This will allow your Ragdoll to become comfortable with the feel of the leash and harness without the added stress of a new environment.
Patience is key
There will be days when your cat may not be in the mood to wear a harness or walk on a leash. Understand this and never force the process. Your Ragdoll’s comfort and happiness should always be the priority.
Keep the training sessions consistent but short. Over time, increase the duration of the sessions and the distance of the walks.
Remember, every cat is unique, and what works for one Ragdoll may not work for another.
It’s all about understanding your cat and making the process as comfortable and enjoyable for them as possible.
As you consider whether or not leash training is right for your Ragdoll cat, remember this: it’s not a ‘one size fits all’.
I identified very early that my Ragdoll, Poppie, was never going to enjoy walking on a leash, no matter how much training I gave her.
So, we adapted and let her get her exercise in the backyard instead, leash free.
However, your Ragdoll may be different and might absolutely love walking outdoors on a leash.
The key is to gauge how your cat reacts to being collared and then proceed from there.
Hopefully this article has given some helpful tips that can inform your decision-making.