Cats love to explore their environments and being outdoors offers a whole slew of sights, scents, and sounds to keep them enriched and entertained. But allowing a cat to wander outside without any precautions can lead to injury, getting lost, disease, or even death. That’s where a cat harness comes into the picture.
A cat harness allows you to safely take your cat outside in the yard or even on a walk around your neighborhood. It provides a way to leash your cat and keep them close while outdoors.
Although harnesses for cats may take some getting used to and a little bit of training in order to get your cat comfortable, they can provide a wonderful bonding experience and a fun way to explore with your curious feline.
Reasons to Consider a Cat Harness
There are plenty of reasons to consider using a harness with your own pet. These are some of the top reasons.
The number one reason to use a cat harness is to safely be able to take your cat outdoors to explore. A harness will keep your cat tethered to you with a leash. Cats are also less likely to slip out of or escape from a harness compared to a traditional collar.
Range of Motion
Most harnesses are comfortable for cats to wear and use. Once it’s on, a cat has free range of motion to walk around, pounce, and jump.
Exercise and Enrichment
A cat that walks with a harness and leash can freely explore the world around them, rather than attempting to sniff out excitement from inside a crate or carrier. This will stimulate your cat’s senses and provide necessary exercise.
What to Look for in a Cat Harness
When shopping for a harness for your cat, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are the key things to look for.
The best car harness offerings feature durable, tear-resistant material that will hold up against outdoor elements and regular use. Look for materials like strong nylon or sturdy mesh and read reviews from other cat parents to see how a harness holds up.
Choose a harness that has additional safety features like reflective materials or stitching to make it usable in low-light settings. Dual leash attachments can also help to keep your cat secure and comfortable when using a harness.
Any harness should be comfortable for your cat to wear. Look for flexible materials with padding to prevent rubbing, chafing, or painful areas if your cat pulls.
Cat Harness Picks: 6 Favorites to Try
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Choosing the right cat harness can feel overwhelming because there are a variety of options available. But we consulted our in-house cat experts and dove into online reviews to find the very best cat harness choices to consider.
Overall Best Cat Harness
Our Pick: Kitty Holster Cat Harness
When choosing our top picks, the Kitty Holster really stood out for its simplicity, comfort, and overall affordability. This is a soft, lightweight cotton harness that is flexible and comfortable for felines to wear, but it’s sturdy enough with nylon seaming and reinforcement to last. It features a metal D-ring on the back for attaching a leash and the collar and the girth of the closure around the body is adjustable to help you get the right fit. This harness gets rave reviews from cat owners for its ability to keep felines secure, and it was even featured on Jackson Galaxy’s show “My Cat From Hell.” It’s an all-around winner!
- Soft, flexible cotton that is still durable.
- Can adjust the collar and girth strap to get a good fit on your feline.
- Metal D-ring makes attaching a leash easy.
- Very easy to put on and take off.
- Machine washable.
- Made in the USA.
Things to Consider
- There are velcro closures and they may be tricky for some cats with long hair.
- If your cat does wriggle out of harnesses, this may not be ideal. Some reviewers said their cats were able to get out of it.
Best Cat Harness and Leash Combo
Our Pick: Rabbitgoo Cat Harness and Leash Set
This nylon and mesh harness and leash set is comfortable for cats and is relatively simple to get on and off. It goes on over your cat’s head and then you can clip it around the stomach for added security. The leash attaches to the harness via a reinforced, sturdy clip on the back of the harness. The harness also has reflective strips for added safety—which we love—and the straps are adjustable to help you get the right fit. This cat harness and leash pack comes in nine different colors and the price can’t be beat.
- Comfortable, easy-to-use.
- Leash and collar combo is a great value.
- Harness distributes weight evenly to help with pulling.
- Reflective strips add to safety.
- Lots of color options to choose from.
Things to Consider
- Only available in two sizes (XS, S) and may not work for larger cats.
- Not suitable for machine washing. Hand washing is recommended.
- You do have to slip this over a cat’s head, which some felines may not enjoy.
Best Escape Proof Cat Harness
Here’s the truth—no feline harness is 100 percent escape-proof. However, this adventure-inspired option from Travel Cat does a good job at preventing cats from wriggling out and getting loose. The key here is to make sure that the harness fits snugly around your cat’s body, so taking the proper measurements is key. However, the flexible mesh allows your cat to stay comfy, while strong nylon helps keep it structured and in place. We also love that this comes with a 360-degree rotating snap clip which adjusts to your cat’s movements and large reflective strips to keep your cat visible. Besides the Kitty Holster (see above), this is a great option to keep your cat secure in a harness.
- Design makes it difficult for felines to escape.
- Flexible mesh and sturdy nylon combine to make it strong and comfortable.
- Inventive 360-degree rotating snap clip.
- Reflective strips for visibility.
- Fun colors and patterns to choose from.
Things to Consider
- It is a bit bulkier than some other harnesses.
- No cat harness is truly escape proof. Train your cat and use it indoors first.
Best Large Cat Harness
Our Pick: PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness
It can be difficult to find the best large cat harness, but we’re fans of this option from PetSafe, a trusted brand in the harness category. This nylon option isn’t as restrictive as other walking vests or bulkier harnesses. It comes with adjustable straps that help to fit the harness to your large cat. The large size can fit cats with a chest girth ranging from 13-18 inches, which is a nice option for bigger felines. In addition to the size accommodations, this leash also comes with a stretch bungee leash that helps to prevent sudden pulling or tugging.
- Sizing can accommodate larger cats.
- Sturdy nylon construction.
- Straps adjust to give you a tailored fit.
- Comes with a bungee leash to cut back on sudden pulling.
- Affordable price point.
Things to Consider
- Pay close attention to your cat’s measurements when choosing size. Size down if between measurements.
- Some reviewers say that the adjustment clips don’t always stay in place.
- Some cats can slip out of this harness. Proper training and testing indoors before outdoor use is important.
Best Small Cat Harness
Our Pick: Yizhi Miaow Kitten Harness
If you have a small cat or want to start using a harness with your kitten, finding a harness that fits them appropriately is important. And this colorful harness option from Yizhi Miaow is tailored for smaller felines with sizes in XS and S. The XS size fits kittens or cats that are 2-4 pounds, while the S size is made to fit felines that are 4-6 pounds. It has magic tape, which is strong and adjustable to help you get the right size for your small cat. The harness is also padded and lightweight for comfort. And we love the cute plaid patterns and different color options. It’s a great choice for daintier felines.
- XS and S sizes are made to fit small cats.
- Vest-like design is comfortable and secure.
- Magic tape is adjustable and helps you get the right fit.
- Great plaid patterns in three different colors.
Things to Consider
- There are no buckles, just velcro.
- Some reviewers said their cats were able to wriggle out of this harness. Proper training ahead of time is important.
- Besides black, the only other colors are pastel pink and blue, which may not fit everyone’s taste.
Best Patterned Cat Harness
Our Pick: BINGPET Cat Harness With Leash
If you’re looking for a harness with some serious style, then we really like the patterns of the ones from BINGPET. They are bright, colorful, and unique—which helps your feline make a fashion statement wherever they go. This particular harness comes in a pink shade with a summery, strawberry pattern on it and a blue shade with pink flamingos and palm trees. How fun! They are made of breathable mesh and also come with a matching leash for ease of use.
- Unique, colorful patterns.
- Comes with a matching leash.
- Made of breathable mesh.
- Easy on and off functionality.
Things to Consider
- Only available in one size (medium).
- Closure is velcro.
- Some reviewers say it shifts a bit once on.
How to Put a Harness On a Cat
The exact way to put a harness on a cat will vary based on the type of harness that you purchase. Some are designed to go over your cat’s head and hook around their stomachs, while others are ones your cat can step into or you can gently guide their legs into before buckling.
Follow the instructions that come with your chosen harness for the best way to put it on your cat. Prior to buying a harness, make sure to measure your cat and size the harness appropriately to ensure the best fit. You may have to make adjustments to the harness and tighten or loosen straps in order to fit it to your cat’s body.
Getting Your Cat Used to the Harness
However, before you actually attempt to put a harness on your cat, it’s important to get your cat used to it and comfortable with it first.
To do this, leave the harness out in an area where your cat spends a lot of time. Allow your cat to explore it and reward them if they go near it.
Before you try to put the harness on your cat all the way, start by simply draping it over their back and rewarding your cat with play or treats. Don’t keep it on them long. Simply drape it and then take it off. Keep doing this for a few days so your cat starts associating the harness with positive experiences.
Once your cat seems comfortable, you can gently fasten the harness. Don’t attach a leash just yet. Allow your cat to get used to wearing the harness around the house. Do this for a few days and then attach a leash.
Let your cat drag around the leash and walk around your house. Once your cat feels comfortable with both the harness and the leash, you can pick up the leash and practice walking your cat around the house.
Cat Harness Safety Tips
Never take your cat outside with the harness before practicing indoors first. Cats who are unfamiliar with or scared of the harness could wiggle out and get loose. It’s a good idea to practice inside your home and then in a fenced in backyard area before attempting to bring your cat to a public place like the park or the vet’s office.
When walking your cat, never force or pull them. Allow your cat to explore on their own terms and follow behind with some slack to the leash. Keep your outdoor sessions short and close to home until your cat is confident with the harness and leash.
Before using your harness, make sure to check it for any wear and tear. Replace it if you see visible rips or defects.
Lastly, always check that your cat has their ID tags on or is microchipped before taking them on a walk outside.
With the right training and precautions, cats can learn to love their harnesses and have fun exploring in new environments.