Wednesday, April 13, 2005

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...


At April 14, 2005 at 12:36 PM, Blogger My Shoes said... cat must be a small dog undercover. she has been leashed trained for about 5 years now. she did well right from the beginning. what i did do that let her get used to it was to stake her outside with about 8 feet of leash to walk around. soon she learned she could go no farthur that 8 feet and she was calm. now i have no problems.. the neighbors cannot believe that she does so well on a leash. stick with it. it will just happen one day! i promise!

At April 14, 2005 at 2:56 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Hello, just stopped by via Blog clicker, We breed maine coons, so I found your blog interesting. Will be back again.

At April 15, 2005 at 12:57 AM, Blogger John said...

Oh, I believe you, Tinker. I was just being literary there. I know people have managed it - they're just not the norm. And that's a good idea you had about getting her used to the leash.

And Sara, Maine Coons, huh? I always kind of wanted one of those. I don't know if I could deal with all the hair, but lovely, lovely cats. Welcome and glad to hear you'll be back.

At April 16, 2005 at 11:30 PM, Blogger Rene said...

There is a third possibility that you didn't mention, a harnass with 3 adjustable straps (round neck, round torso and between these 2 straps). I don't have a website to show you, but I have a picture. Bengals have relatively longer bodies than any other breed, so they won't fit into cat harnasses, unless they are fully adjustable. My Rasheed has attempted to escape from it (even biting it) several times, but has yet to succeed (I hope never). And oh, the line clicks on very easily and can be replaced by a variable length line if your cat/dog is up to it.


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