How To Train Your Maine Coon To Walk On A Lead

Cats aren’t supposed to walk on a lead right?

Quite a lot of breeds might resist, but Maine Coons both trust their owners and aer described as the dogs of the cat world.

So, with those two qualities, is it even possible to train a Maine Coon to walk on a lead?

Maine Coons will love to go on a walk. An indoor Maine Coon requires plenty of stimulation and happily let you put on a harness and take them to somewhere new for a walk. It’s recommended that you walk a Maine Coon in a harness with a strong lead.

So knowing that they will respond well, especially indoor Maine Coons, why and how might you go about it?

a maine coon on a lead in the wild

Why Teach Your Maine Coon To Go On A Walk

The Maine Coon is a big cat, and can weigh almost 20 pounds.

If you had a dog that weighed 20 pounds, you would definitely not expect them to be getting all the exercise that they need to remain healthy just by hanging out around the house.

You would be making sure that they got a regular walk, so that they could be the healthiest pet that they could be.

While many people make the decision to keep their cats as entirely indoor cats, it can be difficult to make sure that your indoor feline friend is getting enough exercise just by focusing on play around the house, especially if your feline friend is a large Maine Coon.

Your Maine Coon cat comes from a long lineage of fierce outdoor hunters, who climbed trees and stalked mice and in general were much more active than typical home life allows.

If you want to provide your cat with the proper amount of exercise and increase their quality of life, then giving them a daily walk is a great way to do just that, while also allowing you to be there to supervise, as opposed to just letting them roam around the neighborhood.

Teaching your cat to walk on a leash will make sure that the cat is able to get the exercise that they need to stay fit and feeling good.

It’s especially good for indoor Maine Coons as they will get the exercise they need.

It will help your cat to remain active and keep their fun, kitten-like personality around for a lot longer than if you allowed your cat to get lazy lounging around the house all day.

Getting your cat to walk on a leash will also make life with your cat less chaotic around the house.

By giving your cat a whole new outlet for some of their energy, you will decrease the likelihood that some of that energy is going to be taken out on your house or furniture.

If you have difficulties with your cat displaying some problem behaviors or aggressive behaviors, these will more than likely solve some of those issues, or at least ease them.

Taking your cat to the vet or to the groomer will also become less stressful for both you and your cat by teaching them to walk on a lead.

You will no longer need to struggle with your cat to get them into a carrier.

Alita the Maine Coon outside on a lead

The cat will learn that going for a ride is not always a stressful or scary occasion, and the two of you will be happier for it.

Until recently, walking a cat on a lead was totally unheard of, and most people would probably assume that it was impossible.

How do you train a cat to do anything that it doesn’t want to do?

It just doesn’t seem to fit with a cat’s personality, especially since they are already so self-sufficient compared to dogs.

It’s not like you really have to train a cat to use a litter box, they just seem to understand it instinctively.

But nowadays, it is not uncommon to see people walking a cat on a leash around the park or the neighborhood.

Training them to do this may take a while, and you will have better results if you start training young. But the rewards for teaching your cat to walk on a leash are well worth it for both you and your cat.

Alita the Maine Coon walking on a lead

Getting Ready To Train Your Cat

Training a cat is a lot like training a dog in many respects.

Cats don’t respond well to negative reinforcement or punishment.

If your cat isn’t doing what you want them to, getting frustrated and punishing them is not going to make them want to do what you want them to do.

Instead it will only ensure that your cat is less likely to want to participate in your next training session, and lessen the existing trust in you and your cat’s relationship.

Instead, what you will want to shower your kitty is positive reinforcement, in the form of plenty of pats and treats.

This will ensure that the kitty will enjoy the time that you spend teaching them to do what you need them to do.

You can even make it like a game for your cat.

Playtime is now learning time too!

Remember to always be patient. It will take your cat some time to learn what is expected of them, but if you are consistent you will get there in the end.

Cats, especially Maine Coons, are naturally curious and playful, and will enjoy interacting with you and being the focus of your attention.

Alita the Maine Coon in Car front seat

Once they understand that learning time can earn them rewards like treats, they will be especially willing to participate.

Before you get started, you will need to go out and purchase plenty of kitty treats.

Alita seems to love those liquid cat treats. She literally laps them up.

You’re going to have to have a steady supply to hold your Maine Coon’s interest. You will also need to go out and find a clicker, like the same kind that you would use to train a dog.

The clicker will also be used to help you get your cat’s attention, and at first you will have to use it simultaneously with treats.

Eventually though, your cat will learn to associate the clicker with the treats, and you will be able to transition into relying exclusively on the clicker, and you won’t have to use a treat every time you want your cat to do something.

You will also need to get a harness for your cat to wear while you go for walks.

You won’t want to use the harness immediately in your training, but you will eventually work up to it.

A harness is the best option for training a cat to walk on a leash.

While dogs might be trained to walk on a leash using only a collar, a cat would be able to wriggle out of a collar, and you would also not want to risk hurting your kitty by using a collar that might strangle them if they are unused to wearing it and try to struggle to get out of it.

Alita the Maine Coon watching people

Make sure that the harness that you use fits your cat properly.

Cats can back out of a harness that doesn’t fit properly, and you don’t want them to run away if see something that startles them or that they might want to chase.

Although Maine Coons are notoriously curious about what their owners are doing, and a much less lekly to do this.

You will also, obviously, need a leash, but this will be the final step in the training process.

Starting Small

If your cat has never been trained, or even if you have never trained a cat, then you’re going to need to start small.

A great first step is getting your cat to associate the sound of the clicker with treats and affection.

Sit down with your clicker and start making noise.

Your cat will more than likely be interested in the strange new sound, and at some point they will come to investigate.

Give the cat a treat for coming to you, and give them praise.

If they start to lose interest, click the clicker again, and give them another treat.

Eventually, the cat will start to expect a treat every time you click the clicker.

This is a good association that they have made, and it will help you further down the line in the training process.

Once the cat has made the association between the clicker and treats, you can start using it to teach them small tricks.

Alita the maine coon outside on a handrail

This may seem like a long road to teaching your cat just how to walk on a lead, but your cat needs to be taught how to learn.

The easiest small trick to teach your cat is “sit.”

Every time you see your cat sit down, you can click your clicker and give the cat a treat.

At first, the cat might not understand that it is receiving the treat because it sat, but eventually it will make the connection between what it is doing and receiving a treat.

When this happens, you have to stop giving your cat a treat every time you see them sit, and start only giving treats when you use the clicker, or command them to sit.

You want to train your cat after all, you don’t want your cat to be training you.

How To Pick A Walking Harness For A Maine Coon

If you have decided to start taking your Maine Coon on walks and adventures outdoors, then you have probably realized that you are going to need a harness and a lead that fit the specific needs of your large breed, long hair cat.

You don’t want the harness that will pull your cat’s hair.

That will definitely make your walks much less enjoyable for them.

You also want to make sure that the harness fits your large cat’s body properly.

Alita the Maine Coon on a gorge

Maine Coons are the largest breed of cat, and they can get to be almost three feet long and around 15 to 20 pounds.

You will be hard pressed to find a harness specifically made for cats that is also large enough to accommodate your Maine Coon kitty.

You can look into harnesses for dogs if you’re really struggling.

Types Of Harnesses:

There are two main kinds of cat harnesses available on the market:

Leads and Vests.

Leads are basically comprised of straps, one which goes over the shoulders and one which goes under the shoulders, connected by a strap that goes vertical along a cat’s chest.

If your cat does not particularly like wearing a harness, then a lead might be a better option for you, since it won’t feel like much when it is on.

It distributes the pressure of the pulling from the leash evenly around the cat’s body, so that your kitty doesn’t get hurt or when you’re on a walk.

However, because of the simplicity of the design of lead type harnesses, cats may find it easier to wriggle or back their way out of the harness.

Some cat owners have expressed this concern, that the straps of the lead harnesses cut into their cats too much, causing discomfort for the cat.

Vest-type harnesses, also commonly referred to as cat-holsters, are a little more structured than regular lead-type harnesses.

Alita the Maine Coon looking at camera

These look exactly how you would expect them to look, just like a vest that connects around your cat’s underside, covering your cat’s shoulders and upper body.

This design more evenly distributes the pressure created by pulling the lead around your cat’s body, and hopefully eliminates any discomfort from straps digging into their body.

These harnesses make it more difficult for cats to back their way out of the harness and escape, which should give you some comfort on your walks.

One downside for Maine Coon owners however, is that because Maine Coons are long hair cats who often suffer in summer months from overheating, you will want to make sure that your vest is made of a very breathable material.

You also probably won’t want to use one that relies on velcro, because it could catch tufts of your cat’s fur, and cause some discomfort.

Some other common features you may come across when shopping for a harness for your cat are plastic or metal buckles, D-rings for attaching the leash, reflective strips, for safe nighttime strolls, and adjustable slides so that you can tighten or loosen the harness to fit your cat.

Remember, you want to be able to fit two fingers under your cat’s harness when it is on, no more, no less, so that your cat is unable to easily escape, but is not being squished or strangled.

Maine Coon in grass close up

Picking A Harness For A Maine Coon

Now that you know a little more about the types of harnesses that are available, here are our top three recommended cat harnesses.

You can find all of these harnesses for sale on Amazon.

1. Kitty Holster Cat Harness:

This harness is secured around your cat with velcro fasteners, and can fit cats that have a chest that measures 13” – 17” in girth for a size small, or 19” – 23” in girth for a size extra large, so you know you will be able to find the right size for even the biggest Maine Coon .

The fabric is made from super-soft cotton, so you know that it will be comfortable and breathable for your feline friend, and won’t pull their hair or cause them to overheat.

The D-ring at the top is very secure for attaching a leash to your kitty.

It is very affordable and can be bought in a variety of different patterns, such as tiger print or red bandana, or you can get solid black or denim if you want something simple.

2. Dexil Luxury Cat Harness Padded and Water Resistant:

This is almost like a combination of lead-type harness and vest-type harness.

The padding in it makes it extra comfortable for your kitty, and the thinner straps as opposed to a full-vest option make it very breathable and light weight.

The large size will fit cats with chests measuring 15” – 24” in girth. It is also water-resistant, so you won’t have to worry too much about taking your Maine Coon for a walk in the rain, or letting them go for a splash in some puddles.

The fabric will stay breathable and light even if they get totally soaked (which your Maine Coon will probably love).

You can purchase it in a variety of solid color options, such as yellow, pink, or black.

Alita the Maine Coon profile at river

3. Pupteck Escape Proof Cat Harness:

This is the number one best selling cat harness on Amazon. And while the reviews speak to the quality, the large size only fits cats that have a chest measuring 14.1” – 16.1”, so if your Maine Coon is particularly large, you may be out of luck.

The harness has velcro closures around the chest and neck, and has an additional plastic snap on the neck, for extra security against escape.

The material is a very lightweight and breathable mesh, and there are two D-rings as opposed to one for you to secure a leash to your cat.

Picking A Suitable Lead For The Harness

Picking a leash should not be as hard as picking a harness for your cat.

Oftentimes, you can find a leash and harness set when you’re shopping.

But if you want to make an informed decision about what is available, then there are few things for you to keep in mind. 

Retractable or bungee leash:

A retractable leash is not the same as a bungee leash, but they are both good options for allowing your cat a little more freedom to roam, and can hopefully help to reduce your cat pulling on the leash. 

Hand Grips or Wrist Loops: You will want to have a way to securely hold on to your leash, so that your cat doesn’t make a sudden bolt for freedom that causes you to lose your grip.

A wrist loop or a hand grip is an easy way for you to keep a firm hold on your end of the leash.

Leather, Nylon, or Metal Leash:

There are several options to choose from when selecting the type of material you want for your leash. Metal leashes can be very heavy, and if they get wet, they might rust.

Leather will be able to stand up to water, but can also be quite heavy. Your best bet for everyday use would probably be nylon, since it is durable and lightweight, so it won’t be dragging behind your cat.

Now that you know what is available, you’re ready to select the perfect harness for you and your Maine Coon!

Alita the Maine Coon side profile at river

Introducing The Harness And Lead

Once your cat has been given a lesson in how to obey commands, you can start introducing the harness to them.

Let the cat see and sniff the harness at first.

After you show it to them, use the clicker and give them a treat.

This will begin positive association with the harness for your cat.

Put the harness on the cat and see how they react.

If they freak out or freeze up, don’t stress too hard about it.

This is pretty normal cat behavior, and it should stop eventually, once your cat gets used to wearing it.

Try it for short periods of time in the house only at first.

You can gradually extend the length of time that your cat wears the harness in the house, and give them plenty of praise when you take the harness on and off.

Once you feel like your cat is behaving totally normally around the house with the harness on, it is time to introduce the leash.

The leash needs to be introduced gradually, just like the harness.

When you show it to the cat, make sure you use the association of the clicker and treats.

First let your cat walk around with the leash on their own, around the house.

Just like with the harness, they may not be too keen on it at first.

When you feel like they have gotten used to having the leash attached to them, start holding the leash, but not guiding the cat.

Just let them get used to the idea of you being on the other end of their lead. You can use the clicker to get the cat to come to your side while being on the leash.

After a while, you will be able to use the clicker to get the cat to follow you around and walk with you while on the lead around the house.

Alita the Maine Coon watching river

And once you have mastered this crucial step, you will be ready to take your cat outside on their lead.

When you take your cat outside on their leash, you should always carry them.

Never let the cat walk out the door on their own, even when they are on a leash.

This will lessen the danger of it trying to bolt out of open doors in the future, and becoming a little escape artist.

Try going outside for a short period of time in a small, enclosed space, like a fenced in backyard. If your cat has never been outdoors, it will probably be a sensory overload for them.

There are so many new things to sniff, and see, and hear that it makes sense that it might be overwhelming for them at first.

After you have done this a few times, you can try going out for longer periods of time, and then on to a real walk around the neighborhood or the park!

This will be a really rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend.

You may even start to find that the cat looks forward to your walk as their favorite part of the day.

Giving your cat the pleasure of going for a daily walk will be something that will enrich their life.

It will ensure that your cat is active and healthy.

Giving your cat a chance to burn off all of its extra energy will mean that it is calmer at home.

That means you won’t have to be woken up at 3 a.m. because of the sudden zoomies!

It will keep them occupied, so that they are not getting bored and getting into trouble at home.

It will also help your cat learn a little obedience, which will surely help provide the structure for getting rid of any other problem behaviors at home.

Alita the Maine Coon on a hammock

Training the cat to stay off the table will be a breeze after training them to walk on a lead!

If you’re worried about your cat’s safety, you can get them chipped so that even if they escape their harness, you will always be able to find them again.

So start training your cat today, and soon you and your buddy can go on an outdoor adventure!

Your Maine Coon may not be as worried as you think about going for a walk.

Check out this awesome video below;

or indeed this one;

About the Author


My name is Ann and I have been looking after and breeding cats since 2013. I am currently the proud ownder of Alita, a female Maine Coon to whom I've dedicated this site. She has had 2 litters and is around 3 years old. We share adventures and stories together.

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Maine Coon 101 | Read This Before Getting One