With the right mindset, walking a cat with a harness and leash can be as much fun for the human as it is for the cat. Just be prepared to let the kitty take the lead, and choose a harness that’s easy to put on and is comfortable for the cat. These harnesses are our favorites because they almost escape-proof and most cats actually enjoy wearing them.
E-Z Comfort Harness
This is the most secure and comfortable harness we’ve found. The collar and girth straps close with secure metal buckles, and there are numerous holes for the buckles in both straps to ensure a perfect, escape-proof fit. The leather is soft and flexible, and the harness is fully adjustable to fit kittens, as well as adult cats. The maximum neck width is 14.5 inches; the maximum girth width is 20.5 inches.
Since the harness buckles on top, it’s easy to put on, and it’s so light, cats are barely aware they’re wearing it.
Made by Vee Enterprises, the E-Z Comfort Harness is sold online and by independent pet supply retailers. Matching leashes are available, although at just four feet long, they’re not quite long enough for the cat to run and play. Match the harness with a Flexi-Mini retractable leash to give your cat lots of exercise and room to explore. The E-Z Comfort Harness sells for just under $8.
Made by MetPet, this sport nylon jacket fits securely around the cat’s middle and is secured with one collar strap and two girth straps. The nylon straps are 5/8 inch wide and don’t dig into the cat’s skin the way narrow ones do. They close with snap-together plastic buckles. All three buckles are located on the cat’s side, so the jacket is quick and easy to put on even with a fidgety cat. When fitted correctly, it’s almost escape-proof.
Wearing a “jacket” takes some getting used to for most cats. While it’s heavier than the soft-sided version, the hard-sided Walking Jacket may be more comfortable for the cat because it’s less likely to slip out of place.
The Walking Jacket comes in standard and large sizes. The collar of the standard size adjusts from eight to11 inches. The girth straps adjust from 12 to 18 inches. The large size collar adjusts from nine to 13 inches. The girth straps adjust from 15 to 25 inches.
The Walking Jacket is available online and from independent pet supply retailers. The soft-sided jacket retails for about $18.99. The hard-sided version sells for about $20.99.
The Kitty Holster is a lightweight cotton jacket with wide Velcro closures at the neck and around the abdomen. When fitted correctly, it’s almost escape-proof. Made by Crazy K Farm Pet and Poultry Products, it comes in small/medium and medium/large. The small/medium size has a 3.5-inch wide girth strap and adjusts around the torso from about 13 inches to 19 inches. The girth strap of the medium/large jacket is about four inches wide and adjusts around the torso from about 16 inches to 20 inches.
Buy the Kitty Holster online or from an independent pet supply retailer. You can expect to pay about $20.
The Purrfect Fit
Before buying a harness, lay a tape measure around your cat’s neck, making it as tight as you want the collar to fit with no fingers between the cat’s fur and the tape measure. With the cat standing up, also measure his girth right behind the front legs. Add about five percent to each measurement. To fit the harness on your cat, make it snug enough that you can fit just one finger between it and the cat. If the collar strap is too loose, the cat will easily be able to pull out of the entire harness.
How To Train Your Cat To Walk On A Leash?
How do you train your cat to walk on a leash? Here are some tips.
- Leave the harness near where the cat sleeps for a few days so he can investigate it, and it absorbs familiar scents.
- If your cat is very motivated to go out, open a door, sit at the door with the cat, and put the harness and leash on. Ask if he’d like to go outside for a walk.
- If your cat gets anxious about anything that’s new and different, distract him with food or treats while you put the harness on. Praise him while he eats.
- When you get the harness on, let the cat walk around in it. If he seems unhappy, take it off and try again the next day. Don’t give up! He’ll get used to it.
- Attach the leash to the harness. While still inside, let the cat walk wherever he wants to, dragging the leash behind him. Be sure to supervise these sessions in case the leash gets caught on something. If the cat becomes agitated, take off the harness and leash and try again the next day.
- When your cat’s comfortable in the harness, pick up the leash and walk behind him. Be sure to keep the lead slack, and don’t restrict his movement. Just let him get used to having you follow him.
- Once your cat is used to his leash, it’s time to venture outdoors. At first, he may want to stay close to the door — he needs to get used to this new world.
- Let the cat lead you rather than trying to force him to follow you. Remember, this is the cat’s outing, and he should be able to go wherever he wants to, within reason. He might be perfectly happy just sitting in a flowerbed enjoying all the sights and smells for a little while. Never pull or jerk the lead to force him to stay on the course you’ve chosen. One bad experience may turn him against walking on a leash forever.
- Hold the leash behind the cat. It’s almost impossible for a cat to back out of a harness if the leash is behind him.
- If you don’t have a yard to walk in, try going outside during quiet times of the day when there aren’t a lot of people and dogs around to startle the cat.
- If the cat gets out of the harness, stay calm. He’ll probably be so surprised he won’t go anywhere. Sit on the ground and urge him to come to you. When he does, reach out slowly and start petting him. When he’s very close to you, calmly pick him up.
- If he does realize he’s free and starts to wander off, don’t run after him. Hearing you running behind him will just make him go faster. Walk calmly and slowly. Say his name in a friendly voice. Stop when he stops, bend over or sit on the ground and try to get him to come to you.
A walk on the wild side with a kitty in a secure cat harness can be safe and fun. Just make sure the harness is buckled securely, and let the cat think she’s walking you.