Leash Training a Bengal - pt. 1
For the other installments of this article, look here:
As promised a couple days ago, here's the first in a series of posts on how to leash train your Bengal cat. We're focusing on this not because it's especially difficult with a Bengal. Quite the contrary, we've found it so easy with Leela that it's actually possible. That's right, possible.
We've never been able to do this with any other cat. They either just walk out of their cat harness, or they freak out and become unmanageable until you take it off and let them hide under the bed for a while. I know some people say they've trained their cats to do this. But our experience suggests these animals aren't really cats at all, but small dogs working undercover. We were a little dubious going in, but we'd heard Bengals were well-suited for leash training, so we plunged in.
The first thing you'll need, of course, is a leash and some kind of cat harness. The leash is pretty basic and it's hard to go too far wrong. But the cat harness is another story. A trip to your local pet store will probably turn up two varieties. One consists of two straps, a strap that goes around the cat's neck and another that goes around its torso. The two are connected by lateral straps running up the cat's back and belly. The other model is a Figure-8 design that goes around the legs and body.
All it needs is "FBI" on the sides in big yellow letters...
We can't recommend either one. We've had terrible luck, especially with the figure-8 model, which tends to pull tight around a leg or two and freak the cat even more. Even the twin collar doesn't seem to do the job for us. And this is with regular cats. Given how Leela takes everything to eleven, we were very doubtful either model would hold her if she didn't want to be held.
What we ended up getting was this walking jacket from HDW Inc. They're Bengal specialists, and this is one hardcore cat harness. It adds an extra strap to the two-strap design, then wraps the cat's whole torso in the same kind of nylon fabric they use in backpacks. That's in addition to the two lateral straps connecting the two torso straps. That whole assembly connects to the collar by another strip of nylon that's a good two inches wide. The strapping is also the kind of stuff used in backpacks, messenger bags and the like. The straps are adjustable and use two-piece squeeze release plastic clasps. They're quick to pop off if you need to, but the cat's never going to do it on their own. Even Leela wasn't getting out of this thing.
It's available in a lot of colors. We got ours in solid black for the tactical SWAT-cat look. All it needs is "FBI" on the sides in big yellow letters...
Then we brought it home and contemplated actually putting it on Leela. Fortunately, we took our time here. I'll explain more in the next installment...