What’s the best harness for your cat? Walking my cat with a harness and leash might seem unusual, but I believe it’s important for my cat to safely enjoy the outdoors, even if it means getting curious looks from neighbors.
Most people actually react positively. They often say how adorable my cat Phips looks in his harness, especially since it matches the color of his eyes. Then, they usually ask where they can find a similar harness for their own cats.
In this article, I’ll talk about what to consider when choosing the best cat harness. This is crucial because the harness needs to keep your cat safe and secure, making it the most important item for your cat’s outdoor adventures.
Why some cat harnesses aren’t safe
It’s essential that a cat harness prevents the cat from escaping and is strong enough to handle sudden movements, like when a cat chases something quickly. Before I learned how to pick the right harness, there were times when my cat Phips slipped out of his harness and ran away.
Fortunately, he always ran straight home. These incidents showed me that not every cat harness is reliable.
The first harness I tried on Phips was a common type from pet stores, made with thin nylon straps. But Phips, being a slender and skittish cat, could easily wiggle out of these flimsy straps.
Based on what I’ve gone through, I strongly recommend avoiding harnesses with thin straps.
The best harness for cat: tactical cat vest
When you’re at a pet store, look for a harness that covers more of your cat’s body, like a vest type. The cat harness vest I use for Phips is made of 1050D Nylon, which is a soft nylon vest fastened with adjustable straps and a secure buckle system to ensure a snug and comfortable fit for your cat. It covers much more of Phips’ body than the old harness, making it harder (but not impossible) for him to escape.
There have been times when Phips got scared and pulled so hard that one of his legs came out through the front.
It’s important to note that these harnesses might be designed for dogs, but they work well for cats too, as long as they fit right. A good fit means the harness is tight but you can still slip one or two fingers between the harness and Phips’ fur.
Tips: Choose a bodysuit, not just a harness, when you plan for adventure
While I’m okay with Phips wearing the cat walking vest in our yard or nearby, for longer trips away from home, I’d consider something that covers even more, like a bodysuit (I’m only half-joking about the flashing neon lights!). The idea is to feel more confident when we’re further from home.
My thinking is that the more a harness covers the cat’s body, the less likely they are to escape from it. So, you might want to try one bodysuit cat harness for your cat’s safe adventures.
Tactical cat harness fitting tips: ensuring a perfect fit for your cat
A properly fitted harness is crucial for your cat’s comfort and safety. Here are some tips and common mistakes to avoid when fitting a harness on your cat:
Fitting a harness:
- Measuring Your Cat: Before purchasing a harness, measure your cat’s neck and chest girth. This ensures you choose a size that’s not too tight or too loose.
- Adjusting Straps: Most harnesses come with adjustable straps. Adjust them so the harness fits snugly but isn’t too tight. You should be able to fit one or two fingers between the harness and your cat’s body.
- Checking for Escape Gaps: After putting the harness on, check for any potential escape gaps, especially around the neck and behind the front legs. Cats are adept at slipping through small spaces.
- Comfort Check: Observe your cat’s behavior in the harness. If they seem uncomfortable or restricted in movement, the harness might be too tight or the style may not suit them.
- Acclimatization Period: Allow your cat to get used to the harness indoors before venturing outside. This helps them associate the harness with positive experiences.
Common mistakes to avoid:
- Over-Tightening: A harness that’s too tight can cause discomfort or even injury.
- Ignoring Signs of Discomfort: If your cat is scratching excessively or moving oddly, the harness may not fit properly.
- Neglecting Regular Checks: Cats can gain or lose weight, so regular fitting checks are essential.
- Skipping Gradual Introduction: Introducing a harness too quickly can cause anxiety. Start with short, positive sessions.
Frequently asked questions about cat harnesses
Q: How do I know if the harness is the right size for my cat?
A: Measure your cat’s neck and chest girth. The harness should fit snugly but not too tightly. You should be able to fit one or two fingers between the harness and your cat’s body.
Q: Can a cat wear a harness all the time?
A: It’s not recommended to leave a harness on your cat all the time. The harness should only be worn during supervised outdoor activities or training sessions.
Q: How long does it take for a cat to get used to a harness?
A: It varies. Some cats adjust quickly, while others may take several days or weeks. Start with short, positive experiences indoors and gradually increase the duration.
Q: How do cat harnesses work?
A: Cat harnesses are designed to safely secure your cat without putting pressure on their neck, as collars do. They typically consist of straps or a vest that wraps around the cat’s body, secured with buckles, velcro, or both.
The harness distributes pressure evenly across the chest and shoulders when attached to a leash, reducing the risk of injury and providing more control for the owner.
Q: How are cat harnesses and dog harnesses different?
A: Cat harnesses and dog harnesses differ mainly in their design and fitting. Cats have more flexible bodies, so cat harnesses are designed to fit snugly and prevent escape. They often cover more body area and have a closer fit than many dog harnesses.
Additionally, cat harnesses are typically lighter and softer to accommodate the generally smaller size and delicate frame of cats.