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If you’re a dog owner, you probably take your dog for a walk at least once a day – it’s simply what you do. As a cat owner, however, your responsibilities are fairly limited. You feed your cat, brush it on occasion, and scoop the litter box. But you probably don’t take it outside.
The truth is that cats are fascinated by the outside world and giving your cat the chance to explore the outdoors is definitely something you should consider.
Before you just open the door and let your cat run wild, consider its safety. Having your cat wear a harness and teaching it to walk on a leash are some basic safety precautions you need to take. Keep reading to learn about the best cat harnesses.
Quick Links: The 5 Best Cat Harnesses
- Best Overall: PetSafe Come with Me Kitty Harness & Bungee Cat Leash
- Best Affordable: Kitty Holster Cat Harness
- Best Cat Harness for Walking: Best Pet Voyager Black Trim Mesh Dog Harness
- Best Bengal Cat Harness: Paws & Pals Control Dog & Cat Harness
- Best Cat Harness for Large Cats: Puppia RiteFit Soft Dog Harness
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What to Look for in a Cat Harness
Even if the idea of taking your cat for a walk sounds strange, there are some important benefits to consider. Walking your cat provides valuable exercise which is essential for keeping your kitty fit.
Walking outdoors is a great way to build your cat-human bond as well, and it provides your cat with mental stimulation to break up the monotony of a life spent indoors. If you want your cat to enjoy these benefits, start by finding the right cat harness.
Here are some important things to look for in a cat harness:
- Proper Fit – For your cat’s safety and comfort, it is important to buy a harness that is actually made for cats. This will ensure that it fits properly because it is designed for cat anatomy. You’ll still need to measure your cat to choose the right size for the proper fit.
- Quality Construction – Durable materials and strong stitching is essential in a cat harness, so don’t be tempted by low prices to buy a harness that may not stand the test.
- Comfortable – Cats generally aren’t used to wearing things on their bodies like dogs are (think collars, bandanas, and harnesses). It is important, then, that the harness be comfortable, so it doesn’t irritate or injure the cat while it’s wearing it.
- Safety – In addition to comfort, features that boost your cat’s safety are important as well – strong buckles that won’t break under pressure and tight seams that won’t pull apart.
Cat harnesses come in many different styles so it might not be a bad idea to go to the pet store to check out a few different models before you make your choice.
Even if you don’t bring your cat along to try them on, you’ll still get a feel for the different styles so you can shop smart and make the right decision.
There are several different types of cat harnesses out there, and using the factors listed above will help you decide which one is best.
The harness that offers the maximum degree of security is a vest-style harness also known as a walking jacket. For cats that like to be very mobile, a step-in harness with two leg holes is ideal – these also work for cats that don’t like having something slipped over their heads.
An H-style harness is another option, ideal for low-risk situations and calm cats. Finally, the figure 8 harness is best for cats that tend to pull or lunge because it tightens when they do so.
Here are our top 5 picks for the best cat harnesses:
Affordably priced and designed for comfort and security, the PetSafe Come with Me Kitty Harness & Bungee Cat Leash is our top pick.
This cat harness features a patented design that that gently tightens the shoulder straps in response to pressure, restraining your cat’s forward motion without putting any extra pressure on its throat.
The harness is very simple in design but made from high-quality materials and designed for comfort as well as security.
The 3/8-inch webbing is comfortable for your cat but thick enough for durability and the fit is snug enough for low-risk situations. Plus, it comes with a bungee leash, so you have everything you need to walk your cat.
Even if your cat is used to wearing a harness, you still want to make sure it is kept safe outdoors. If your cat becomes spooked and bolts all of a sudden, some harnesses may not react quickly enough to keep your cat contained but the Kitty Holster Cat Harness offers maximum security.
This vest-style harness features wide straps that make it difficult for your cat to escape but is still made from 100% breathable cotton materials.
The vest design is also perfect for cats that don’t like to have things slipped over their heads. You’ll also be glad to know that, because it’s made from cotton, that it is machine-washable.
Another great option in step-in, vest-style harnesses is the Best Pet Voyager Black Trim Mesh Dog Harness. Though this harness is made for dogs, the vest-style design works for cats as well, as long as you choose the right size.
The vest is made from breathable polyester mesh that is gentle on your cat’s skin but hugs the torso for a snug, secure fit. It comes in five different sizes, though most cats wear either the small or x-small size.
This harness is a good fit for cats who don’t like having things slipped over their heads and for cats that need an added level of security against escaping the harness.
Designed to provide the maximum degree of comfort and control, the Paws & Pals Control Dog & Cat Harness is another great option.
This harness is designed for both dogs and cats, made from lightweight, breathable polyester materials that are padded for comfort and machine-washable for convenience.
This harness comes in several bold, anti-fade colors and four sizes. The harness provides the perfect combination of fashion and function, featuring a step-in-style design with wide straps to protect your cat’s neck against pressure. Plus, its weatherproof construction adds to the durability.
If none of the cat harnesses above are quite right for your cat, you might consider the Puppia RiteFit Soft Dog Harness. This harness is actually designed for small dogs, but it also works very well for cats.
This is a mesh, step-in style harness that offers a snug fit and lightweight construction. It comes in several different colors and is made from soft, durable materials to keep your cat comfortable.
Both the neck and back loops are adjustable for a snug fit, featuring hook-and-loop closure with two quick-release buckles for increased security. This harness is a good option for cats who don’t like having things slipped over their heads, for breathability in warm weather, and for adjustability.
How to Leash Train Your Cat
You’ve probably seen the videos online of people putting harnesses on their cats for the first time. In many cases, the cat responds by either freaking out or going completely limp.
You can’t predict how your cat will react the first time you put it in a harness, but there are some steps you can take to get your cat used to it so you can go for a walk outdoors.
Here are some simple tips for leash training your cat:
- Slowly get your cat used to the harness before putting it on – place it next to the food bowl or drape it over the side of the cat’s bed.
- If your harness has snaps, open and close them a few times to get your cat used to the noise so it doesn’t spook.
- Start draping the harness over your cat’s back without fastening it – make sure to give your cat a treat to help it form a positive association with the harness.
- Once your cat is calm around the harness, start putting its legs through the loops a few times each day.
- When your cat is ready, fasten the harness in place for a few minutes while giving your cat treats or pieces of kibble for encouragement.
- As your cat becomes more comfortable, you can attach the leash and let your cat wander short distances and then longer distances.
Over time, your cat will become more comfortable with the harness and with the leash. Once you’ve mastered the art of walking indoors, you can take your cat outdoors – just make sure it is a safe location away from roads and wild animals.
Start off slow with a few minutes’ exposure to the outdoors, slowly working your way up to longer walks. Make sure that your cat has proper flea and tick protection as well before taking it outside.
The best cat harness for your cat will be determined by your cat’s size and personal preferences. You may not know what those preferences are, however, until you give a harness a try.
We heartily recommend the five cat harnesses we’ve reviewed above, but we understand that these options may not work for every cat. Try a harness yourself to see what your cat does and doesn’t like. Good luck!