There are many different cat harnesses available specifically for traveling, taking leisure walks or for training. For us, the best cat harness for all general activities, I feel, is a no pull vest made by Voyager.
Let’s break this down and take into account the following things:
- your cat’s size and weight
- your cat’s energy levels and willingness to venture outdoors
- your main goal (to walk your cat daily, to have her venture into your yard supervised, to travel with her by car or plane, etc)
Why Does My Cat Need a Harness?
- Traveling (long car trips, flights, etc)
Like I mentioned, maybe you’re going to travel with your pet.
Your furry friend might need to bathroom break if you’re planning a long car trip, or she may need to have better walking equipment than just a collar and leash if you’re taking her on a longer trip with a plane, boat or train.
- To Promote Excercise
Even lazy cats like exercise sometimes!
It’s best to walk your cat with a harness and lead rather than a collar and leash – this is less strenuous on your cat’s neck and is more secure.
While cats and dogs are fairly different, some cats really enjoy going for walks with their owners.
This promotes bonding and adventure time and gives their human (you) a sense of relief.
Letting your cat wander outside brings potential dangers, but going on a walk with your cat means you and your cat can have some safe fun in nature!
How Is a Harness Different than a Collar?
Basically, a collar goes around your cat’s neck and a harness goes around more of their body (usually around their chest) and it’s much more secure this way.
There are a few more differences between a collar and a harness – but the biggest pull towards harnesses is that it’s actually much safer than using a collar and leash.
Using a leash and only a collar to walk your cat is not recommended because, unlike dogs who you commonly see being walked on a leash, cats have softer throats.
Simply attaching a leash to a cat’s collar and going for a walk will often cause the cat to choke and can cause serious health complications.
There’s also a risk of your cat slipping out of the collar and running off and this is far less likely with a harness because it’s a lot more secure.
Here is a little guide on how to get your cat used to her harness:
Harnesses provide safe, secure and comfortable ways for your cat to walk on a lead.
So, why aren’t kitty harnesses more common?
Why don’t I see my neighbor’s cat being walked around the block with a harness on?
There are a few reasons cat owners decide against harnesses from not being aware of which ones to use to having usually “lazy” cats (if your lazy cats rarely leave the house you have probably never even thought of buying a harness for your cat before!)
Most people don’t consider walking their cats on a harness and lead for a few reasons:
- Maybe your cat is already an indoor/outdoor cat and you think she gets enough outside time.
While this may be true, don’t you think it would be really fun to put a harness and lead on your cat and see where else she wants to venture off to!?
- Maybe your cat is only allowed inside.
Okay, you have the cat tunnels, the cat climbing tree and maybe even a cat exercise wheel…does your cat still need to be outside?
Even with all these fantastic and engaging toys, maybe some supervised outdoor time would do you both some good!
Cats LOVE outside, and while things like outdoor pet enclosures, cat tents or catios are helpful, walking your cat around your yard or neighborhood might be really fun!
- Maybe you already take your cat on nature walks but do so using a collar and leash.
While there is no law against this and your cat might not get hurt – the possibility of discomfort, pain or slipping out of the collar is still there.
Walking your cat with a harness is just as simple and much more secure.
One of the biggest reasons we got a cat harness was because although our cats are indoor/outdoor cats, there are times when they need to be outside in surroundings they aren’t familiar with.
Our youngest wild one, Lucy, loves to bolt and hide when she is unsure of things.
And if our older cat, Tess, was frightened by something – she would find a hidden place and not make a noise until she knew she was safe, making it difficult for us to find her.
We knew there would be times when we had to travel with your cats (like to a vets appointment, moving houses, etc) and we wanted to do it the safest way possible.
Choosing the best cat harness will add to the cat’s safety on the journey and also put your mind at ease…
There’s nothing worse than a cat running around an airport after an overzealous customs guard has opened their crate, believe me!
(Check here for more tips on traveling with your cats.)
There are some more adventurous cats believe it or not who actually enjoy going on a road trip with their owners, maybe yours is one of them and you just don’t know it yet!
Choosing a harness which is both comfortable yet secure for your cat and training them to use it from an early age, maybe one day you’ll be taking your cat with you on more of your adventures.
The Different Types of Harnesses for Cats
Choosing a harness for your cat is about more than just getting the correct fit, harnesses come in many shapes and sizes depending what you need it for.
Basically, cat harnesses come in two types:
- Straps (like a horse’s harness)
- A full vest
Which one you and your cat need will depend on a few different things, such as what you intend to use the harness for (activities like hiking and jogging would require something a little different than say air or cat travel)
But for the most part, you want to find something that suits your cat’s body type and their personalities.
Your cat will eventually get used to their harness whichever you choose, but keeping a few things in mind (like your cat’s weight, chest size, and activity levels) will help you make the best choice here.
If you intend to walk your cat outdoors, you will need something which is both comfortable for the cat yet secure enough the sly little fellow can’t wriggle out of it.
You can learn more about how to travel safely (air travel, car travel, etc) with your cat here.
Let’s talk about the different kinds of harnesses, and then we’ll focus on what kind would be best for your cat.
💡 Vest Harnesses
For the most security when walking your cat you want to look for a vest-style harness.
These harnesses look like a piece of clothing and will even distribute the pressure with the wider surface making it more secure too.
One of our favorite cat vest harnesses is the popular Kitty Holster Harness.
What We Love About the Kitty Holster Harness:
❌ Reviews have said this harness can feel a little flimsy and although most cats haven’t gotten lost, you have to feel confident in the harness you put on your pet
Like I mentioned above:
One of the best things about this Kitty Holster harness is that it’s made with breathable cotton that keeps your cat cool in most climates and an undyed lining to avoid irritation of your cat’s skin.
This harness also features a metal D-ring which allows it to be directly attached to a leash.
Although some customers may find it slightly more expensive than rival products (read some reviews here), this harness is ideal for both those trips to the vets and more regular use on long outdoor walks.
Watch the video below to see how a vest harness is put on a cat the right way!
💡 Step-in Harnesses
If your cat doesn’t really like things being placed over its head, then a step-in harness can be an ideal choice.
The smaller surface area and larger neck and leg holes allow for extra mobility for cats that are more experienced on the adventure trail.
The Best Pet Supplies Voyager All Season Pet Harness is a great choice here.
♥️ What We Love About the Best Pet Supplies Voyager All-Season Pet Harness:
❌ Can run a bit larger than the size advertised, according to reviews
The Voyager harness comes in a choice of five different sizes, is designed for small dogs too, it’s ideal for use with larger cats.
It’s easier to put on with the step-in design with wider strips and Velcro fasteners for maximum security.
The heavy-duty metal D-ring we mention helps ensure this harness can be used comfortably with even the most fidgety of cats.
The breathable mesh is perfect for both cold and warmer weather with the vest-like design distributing the weight evenly and helping to prevent too much pressure on the cat’s neck.
It comes in a choice of five attractive colors but be careful when choosing the size as many runs larger than advertised and may not hold the cat secure enough.
Below is a video on how to safely cat your pet into a step-in harness:
(They use a toy dog in this video, but it works the same for cats.)
💡H or 8-Shaped Harnesses
These tend to be the most simple and least expensive type of harnesses available and are best suited for occasional use or indoor use for training.
If you are simply looking for a harness to use for taking the cat to those dreaded vet visits, the Red Dingo Adjustable Cat Harness is one of the best budget harnesses available.
What We Love About the Red Dingo Adjustable Cat Harness:
❌ Only offered in one size. Although there are an adjustable neck and chest size, it’s unlikely that it will be the best choice for a larger chested or heavier cat.
❌ The nylon fabric may be nice for us, but it can get a bit uncomfortable for our kitties (and they are the ones wearing it, after all)
There are a few pros and cons to this specific harness (and H harnesses in general) – one drawback being that it won’t offer as much security as a full body vest-like harness.
However, it can be more comfortable or less distressing for the cat to wear – so you may have to see which is best for your furry friend and go from there.
Personally, I love the snap-lock buckles for harnesses… this means no scary velcro noises if your cat gets nervous.
It’s also lightweight!
The H-design of this harness makes it more difficult for the cat to escape from (unless your cat is a bit more devoted, they may find a way.)
And also with it being a rope design, never leave the cat unattended in this style of the harness as it could get stuck on something quite easily.
Here is a short little clip about how to put an H harness on your cat:
Other Cat Harnesses I Think You’ll Like
Let’s break down some of the pros and cons of some other popular cat harnesses available!
❌ Restricted sizes (Medium and Large sizes available), may not be for very small cats
❌ The least clasp that comes with it may be a bit weaker for larger cats
Training Your Cat to Use a Harness
Let’s get more into this!
We’ve shown a few videos on putting on your cat’s harness – but how do you get your cat to be comfortable (and enjoy) wearing a cat harness?
Let’s be real:
At first, your cat may be very unhappy about the harness that’s assuming you can get him in it.
Introduce the harness first – don’t even try to put it on them in the beginning
Setting your cat’s new harness near their bed or an area of your house they like to play in can allow your cat to get familiar with this new object in a totally harmless way.
After a while (once your cat is used to it), you can show them in more detail: opening and close the clasps or locks.
This may scare them at first, but it’s important they get familiarized with this sound.
Step-in designs or vest-style harnesses tend to be quite easy to put on your cat but do it slowly.
Once your cat is familiar with the harness and is not afraid when you open and close the clasps – try draping the open harness on your cat’s shoulders (or if it’s a step in harness, attempt to put it close to but not over their face.)
Once your cat is used to this step, try letting them wear their harness inside.
Get them used to walk around in the harness, maybe even clipping your lead onto it and following them around. It’s important not to lead your cat at this stage because she will just be getting used to walking with the harness on (and it can be a bit tricky at first).
It’s important to note…
This should only be done for a few minutes at a time in the beginning – and if your cat is showing signs of a struggle that they want out – take them out!
It’s important that they learn not to fear the harness, or they will never let you put it on them again.
🐾 Start Young
The younger you start introducing a cat to the harness, it will normally take less time to train them.
Of course, you can’t be putting a harness on a newborn kitten, but once they are a few months old, you can begin getting them familiarized with the harness and leash idea.
🐾 Use Rewards
Try rewarding them with treats when you get the harness on and allow them to walk around by themselves in it first. This allows your cat to get used to the feeling of the harness without the added tension of a leash–after all being on a leash is not natural for a cat.
🐾 Be Consistent
Be consistent with the training and don’t give up if you don’t succeed at first. One of my cats just lay on the floor and you almost had to drag it with the harness on at first. I say almost, remember the cats weaker neck and throat and don’t force the issue too much.
🐾 Have Patience
Your cat may struggle and wriggle out of the harness–simply leave for a short time before reapplying the harness and make sure the cat is secure before you start trying it in the outside world.
Practice more around the house before even venturing outdoors, the big open areas of unfamiliar surroundings may be too much for your cat.
Finally, persevere, cats do like to think they are the boss, but with a little patience, you will soon be strolling with your cat by your side.
Teaching your cat to walk with a harness and leash can take time – please be patient with your cat and take their lead. Don’t force it and soon enough you’ll be ready for your first outdoor adventure!