The Cat Harness: Everything You Need to Know 

 August 26, 2020

By  Lisa Nguyen

A cat harness is a piece of pet equipment or accessory that wraps around a cat’s legs and torso. With a harness and a cat leash, you can walk your cat and explore the outdoors safely, all while being in control of the situation. This makes the walks secure and safe.

If you are new to cat walking, you might be wondering why you need a harness to walk a cat while you typically just need a collar and leash to walk dogs. Here is why.

Why Do You Need a Cat Harness?

While you can safely attach a leash to your dog’s collar and take it for a walk, cats are a little different. A cat’s neck is very sensitive. The pressure that results from you or your pet tugging at the leash can cause internal injuries to the cat’s throat. This is why most cat collars are designed to easily come off when they get stuck.

With a harness, the pressure is evenly distributed around the cat’s chest area, and this makes the walks safe. Indoors cats are also not equipped to deal with the dangers presented by the outdoor environment like moving cars and wild animals. Putting them in a harness before you take them for a walk allows you to keep them close to you in case of any dangers.

Why Take the Cat for a Walk?

Unlike dogs that need to be taken out on a walk often, walking your cat is not necessary. So, if you don’t need to walk your cat, why take the stroll anyways? This is why.

Giving your cat a taste of both worlds

While some cats do not care for the outdoors, some cats love being outside as much as they love being indoors. If your cat is one of these, there is no reason not to give them a little of both these worlds. When you walk them, you stay in control and ensure they stay safe. This way, you don’t feel bad that your cat has to stay indoors all the time. It can get a little stale for them.


Walking your cat is not only a great way for them to exercise, but you too. Evening strolls are better with some company. Your feline friend can provide it.


Unlike dogs that are closer to humans, cats typically keep their distance and mark their territory. Taking your cat on a walk helps enhance your bond. You will get to know what your cat likes.

Dealing with anxiety

If your cat has been acting out recently, it may be because they have been in an enclosed space for a long time. Taking them out to get fresh air may help them deal with the stress of being enclosed at all times.

Tips for Successful Cat Walking

Walking a cat is not as easy as walking a dog. These tips will help make walking your cat easy for both of you.

Consider your cat’s personality

While walking your cat sounds like a great idea, you have to keep in mind that it’s not for every cat. Some cats are more outgoing than others. If your cat is the shy type, who would rather watch the world outside through your window, you should just let them be.

On the other hand, if your cat is the outgoing type who is always looking to jump out any chance they get, this is a great candidate for an outdoor walk.

Start young

If you want your cat to get used to taking a stroll with you around the block, then you need to start training them when they are a young kitten. You have a higher chance at success when starting with a young kitten rather than a mature cat. If you are trying to introduce your senior cat to harnesses and walks, don’t be surprised when they lie on the floor and play dead. You have to drag them.

Practice in the house first

When you finally decide to start taking your cat out on a walk, it’s advisable to try it around the house first. Let the cat get used to being in a harness. Do this for some time in the house before you take them out to explore the outdoors. If you take them out without getting them acclimatized to the harness first, they will be trying to wiggle themselves out of it causing a struggle for you both.

Use a cat leash

While dog leashes are shorter, you should use a longer leash for walking your cat. This might sound counterintuitive, here is why it’s not.

Cats are generally more curious than dogs. This means they explore their surroundings more. A cat will go up a tree during a walk, for instance, while your dog would never do the same. To allow them space they need for this, a long leash will come in handy.

Cat Collar vs a Harness

The first thing you have to do when you decide to start walking your cat is, get them a cat harness. You might be wondering why you need one while you don’t need one for your dog. Cats have a sensitive throat. Attaching a leash to their collar can place some stress on their necks, which in turn can cause internal injuries.

For this reason, you shouldn’t attach a leash to a cat’s collar. A harness is safe for a cat’s walk. When they have to wear a collar for identification purposes, for instance, make sure it’s a breakaway one so that it can easily come off if they are stuck in a branch or something like that.

Make it routine

Routine is important with any pet activities like feeding. If you want to make walking your cat hassle free, make it routine so that your cat gets used to it. You can also add treats to the equation so that your cat comes to associate the walks with treats. This way, your kitty gets excited when it’s time for a walk instead of resisting it.

Be patient

I cannot stress this enough. Walking a cat requires a lot of patience. Unlike dogs who will pick up on your pace and keep it throughout the walk, a cat will just stop at a certain spot. You will have to stand there and wait until they are ready to move on. You will especially need to be more patient if you are starting to train your cat to go out for walks with you.

Now that we have established that it’s good to take your cat on a walk, you will need a good harness for the job. Cat harnesses are designed differently depending on different cat needs. There are the three main categories of harnesses.

Types of Cat Harnesses

Here are the types of cat harnesses you can get for your cat, depending on their needs.

The H style harness

Just like the name states, this type of harness is designed in the shape of an H. They are made of straps and are the most basic type of harness you can get on the market for your cat.

The straps go around the cat’s legs, neck, and chest. This way, the pressure is evenly distributed which is better than if you were using a cat collar attached to a leash.

If your cat is not used to having a harness on yet, the H style harness may be more suitable as it’s not as suffocating as the other types of harnesses.

While this type of cat walking harnesses is okay for your cat, it’s also easy for your cat to wiggle themselves out of. This makes them unsuitable if you are walking your cat in high-risk areas.

Vest style harnesses

Unlike the H style harness, a vest style has more contact with your cat’s body. It’s designed to look like a vest.

To put it on, you are required to put the harness over your cat’s head. While your cat may get used to this in the long run, most cats don’t like it at first and you might encounter some resistance initially. This kind of harness is harder for your cat to escape from and therefore safer.

When your cat tugs on the leash the pressure is distributed more evenly. This eliminates the risk of your cat choking.

Step-in harnesses

With this type of harnesses, your pet steps in with their front paws and then you can fasten the straps at their back. This eliminates the turtle neck effect that comes with the vest type of harnesses. It’s also easier to wear and you do not encounter as much resistance as you would with a vest kind of harness. The cat leash is then attached to the ring at the back and you are set for the walk.

Depending on your cat’s needs and personalities you can choose one of these harnesses for your kitty and you will be set for evening strolls without worrying about their safety.

What Makes a Cat Harness Great?

Now that you know the types of cat harnesses you can get for your kitty, you need to know what makes a harness great for your cat and what to look for before you buy one. Here are the qualities of a great cat harness.


The safety of your pet should always be the top priority. And it should be no different when you are shopping for your cat’s harness and leash.

If you are taking your cat out to a risky area you need an escape-proof harness. No harness can offer a 100% guarantee but some are easier to get out of than others. The H-style of cat harnesses, for instance, is very easy to get out of. The vest style harnesses, on the other hand, are harder.

In case your cat is spooked during your walk, you don’t want them to get loose and scamper away.


When you are getting a harness for your feline friend, you should leave some wiggle room for changes in size. This is especially important if you are buying a harness for a young cat that’s still growing. When you are buying one for an adult cat, you don’t want it to be too snug or too loose.

Ideally, when you put on the harness on your cat, you should be able to slip in 2 fingers between the harness and the cat’s body.

The harness you buy for your cat should have a reasonable range of adjustability, the wider the range the better.


The harness you get for your cat has to fit. When you decide to buy your kitty a harness, make sure you take their measurements just before you order the harness. All harnesses will have an indicated size range. Choose a size in which your cat falls in. Make sure you take the measurements accurately, too.

Material and construction

The material used in making the harness is an important factor to keep in mind when looking for your cat’s harness. You don’t want a harness made using a material that irritates your cat. Especially if your cat has sensitive skin. You will have to be extra careful.

The rings where a leash is meant to be attached should be sturdy too. Make sure they can’t easily break when the cat tugs at the leash trying to escape or go after another animal.


An ideal harness is made using breathable material to avoid the suffocating feeling or overheating for your kitty. An ideal harness is designed to be worn in all seasons. Ideally, harnesses made using a mesh material is good for warm seasons while it also helps provide the needed insulation during the winter months.

Ease of use

A great harness is easy for your cat to wear without struggling with it. Cats are sensitive creatures and will not want to put on a harness if it’s a lot of hassle to put on. You also don’t want to be struggling with your cat every time you plan on taking them out on a walk.


A good harness should be comfortable for your cat to wear. Choose harnesses that are easy on your cat’s skin. If you are buying the H cat harness, make sure that the straps are not too narrow.

Harness Training

Cats, unlike dogs, will not always be receptive to the idea of strolling around the block with you. Cats generally don’t do anything unless there is something in it for them. They are selfish like that.

Before you can step out for that walk with your feline friend, the first step will be harness training. You start by getting them comfortable with the harness. While harness training a cat sounds challenging, it can be done.

The first thing you need to know is that you will need to be very patient. Here is how to harness train a cat.

  • Identify your cat’s favorite treat and eliminate it in their daily routine. You will need it for the training.
  • Familiarize your kitty with the harness. Your cat needs to view the harness as harmless. To familiarize the cat, you can start by leaving it at spots your cat spends most time like around their feeding bowl or their sleeping spot.
  • Positive reinforcement: start using your cat’s favorite treats to get them to get into the harness. Every time they do something in that direction, reward them with a treat. This way, your cat will start associating the harness with the treats.
  • Repeat this for a few days until you manage to fully lure your cat into the harness and eventually, they can get themselves into the harness.
  • When they can finally get into the harness, you still need to allow them a few days for them to get used to staying with the harness for some time. Let them stay with the harness on around the house so that they can get used to it.

Benefits of Using a Cat Harness

Keeps your Feline Friend Safe

Using a harness for your cat when you are both outdoors, helps keep your cat safe. With a harness, you can keep your cat close and out of danger. If they get spooked by anything when you are out on a walk, you will have a way of keeping them from disappearing into the bushes where more dangers might await.

Some cat harnesses will come with some reflexive parts so that you can keep track of your cat at any time even when you are taking a walk at night.

Support for the Senior Cats

Old cats don’t have as strong bones as their younger counterparts. A harness, especially the vest and the step-in kinds will help offer older cats support when you are taking a walk with them. This makes the walks more comfortable.

Exploring Outdoors

When you are walking your cat in a harness and a leash, you can relax knowing your little companion is wrapped around your finger and nothing bad can happen to them. This way, you can both relax and enjoy the nature around you.

Easier Control of Cat During Travel and Vet Visits

As I have already explained, trying to control your cat using a cat collar can be dangerous. Using a harness on your cat when you are going to see the vet or when you are traveling instead of using a cage can make the experience a lot better for your little companion.

Makes Walking Cats Possible

Who said only dog owners can enjoy a leisurely walk around the hood? Cat harnesses make it possible for you to train and start walking your cat. You, too, can enjoy a walk around the neighborhood if you have the right harness for the job and your kitty has the right catitude.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know the harness is snug enough for my cat?

When you put a harness on your cat, you have to ensure that it’s not too snug or too loose. If it’s too snug, your cat will be uncomfortable and will resent wearing it.

If it’s too loose, your cat will wiggle themselves out of it. If this happens your cat can run into oncoming traffic.

To check the fit for your cat, put their harness on and put two fingers in between your cat’s body and the harness. You should be able to fit those two fingers into that space.

Can I walk a cat on a leash?

Yes, you can. Although some cats do not welcome the idea of outdoor exploring, some cats love and enjoy exploring the outdoor environment a lot.

Walking your cat has health benefits and mode improvement for your cat. If you have been feeling bad for your cat getting stuck in the house all day when you are going about your business, it’s time to get them a cat harness and a leash and start exploring the neighborhood together.

What’s the best cat harness for my cat?

There is no specific answer to this question. If you are planning on getting your cat a harness, there is a lot you need to consider as I have already explained. Every cat’s needs are different. Weigh all the factors and settle on a harness that best suits your cat.


Cat harnesses are a great piece of pet equipment that makes exploring the outdoors with your kitty possible. If you want to start walking your cat, a cat harness is a must-have. There are a lot of harnesses you can get for your feline. Remember that understanding your cat is the initial step and the most important. Always keep in mind your cat’s needs.

Lisa Nguyen

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