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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:
Monday, June 22, 2009

Harnesses and Leashes for Cats

By Melissa Kauffman

Editorial Director, BowTie Incorporated

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A perennial hot topic among cat owners is “should you or should you not keep your cat indoors?” Cat Fancy magazine has always stressed that cats should not be allowed outdoors due to the many dangers (cars, other animals, treated lawns and gardens) plus the concern over cats killing native species, such as wild birds.

However, cat owners still want their cats to get the stimulation of the great outdoors. Thus the cat harness and leash was created. Reaction to walking a cat on a harness and leash has been mixed. This was recently a big topic of discussion among CatChannel users, with cat owners having the following thoughts on the matter:

  1. They don’t want to spend money on a cat leash and harness if the cat refuses to wear it.
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  2. The Figure 8 Style adjusts better than the H Style.
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  3. The cat has to adjust to the harness. This could take days or weeks and not all cat owners have the patience for this.
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  4. Younger cats accept them better than older cats.
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  5. Cat owners found that taking the cat outside for a walk at the same time everyday helps the cat know what to expect. The cat looks forward to putting on the harness.
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  6. Some cats will wear them and other cats won’t. Those that won’t cannot be taught to wear them.

My sister taught one of her cats to walk with a harness and a leash and I remember she got quite a variety of reactions from people in her neighborhood. My brother-in-law refused to walk the cat. He just couldn’t wrap his head around it. So with this kind of ambivalence about a cat product, what can a retailer do?

I talked with Cat Fancy and CatChannel editor Susan Logan for any advice she would give retailers on selling cat harnesses and leashes. She believes that talking with the customer and finding out if the person’s cat makes a good candidate for the harness and leash will go a long way in the customer having success in getting the cat to wear it. See her video interview, right.

Pet store retailers will do a better job of selling these products if they have some kind of educational tool placed near them. Pet Product News International created a "10 Steps to Harness/Leash Training Your Cat” PDF that you can download and use as a handout.

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