Cat Harnesses – Your Ultimate Guide

White cat wearing harness and looking out from balcony

Properly fitted cat harness is the most important thing when you have an adventure cat. It makes your cat feel comfortable, enables their full range of motion, but most importantly – it keeps our pets safe. The internet is full with products stating to be “escape proof” but the truth is – there is no such thing as an escape proof harness. There are, however, couple things you can do to prevent it from happening.

I decided to create this post to explain each type of harness, answer some of the most frequently asked questions, and share our favourite products. You will also find some great tips from me or other adventure cats’ pawrents.

Jump to:

  1. Type of harnesses
  2. How to choose the right harness
  3. How to properly measure the cat
  4. Frequently asked questions on harnesses + training
  5. Harnesses we recommend
  6. Cat Backpack is your cat’s friend

Types of harnesses

There is couple types of harnesses you can choose from. Most popular ones are H-style, vest, “minimal style”, but there is also a jacket-style harness. Each one has its pro’s and con’s and deciding on one (or two) is 100% dependable on what works for you and you kitty. Let’s dive in to explain each type:

H-style

This type is shaped like a letter “H” and is most minimalistic one. They are the most popular ones with “beginner” cats as they have the least contact with cat’s body. You can find ones that are pull through (cat’s head) or ones that you fasten around their neck.

Why I don’t recommend H-style harnesses: Due to their design, they can put a lot of pressure on the cat’s neck – especially during sudden movements. Think about a dog pulling forward when the leash is attached to their collar – the dog often starts choking and can strain their neck. It’s the same with your kitty and the H-style harness.

Minimal style/ Y-shape

Minimal style harness is very similar to a H-style harness but it has an extra strap connecting the neck piece to chest strap. It’s much better choice as it puts the pull pressure on cat’s shoulders. Most of those harnesses have very thin straps so if your cat tends to pull a lot you might want to consider a different style as it can still put strain on your cat’s neck and shoulders.

Important note on H-style and Minimal style harnesses: One major downside to these harnesses is that some cats can easily slip out of them. Be sure to properly measure your cat before purchasing them – scroll down for a instructional video.

Cat on leash walking outdoors Vest style

Vest style is our favourite pick. The harness looks like a vest and spreads the pull force evenly on your pet’s body – preventing neck and shoulders strains. There are two “types” of vest style harnesses – one that you pull through your cat’s head and one that is “step-in”. The latter one allows for a bit tighter fit around cat’s neck. Some cats might not be huge fans of a harness going over their head (Chumka isn’t) but putting it on takes like 5 seconds and as soon as the door opens, he forgets about it lol.

Jacket style

Jacket style harness is the only style that we haven’t personally tried. They cover most of your cat’s body and tend to be very snug on your pet. That being said, it’s least likely they are going to escape this harness.

It could be a good option if you live in a colder climate and your kitty doesn’t like wearing sweaters or jackets. On the other hand, you might want to opt out for something with less coverage during summer months – or find one made with breathable material.

Cat exploring natureHow to choose the right harness

Now that we explained different types of harnesses, you may or may not have an idea on which one(s) you want to try. There are couple factors to consider before “committing” to one:

Your cat’s size and coat

Each brand usually makes their products in different sizes. But sometimes the sizing (of the harness or your cat lol) can be really awkward and just simply doesn’t fit – that was the case for us and RC adventure cat harness.

Kittens grow really fast so choose a harness that is easily adjustable. For larger breeds, you might consider a dog’s harness if you can’t find one that fits in feline section.

Another helpful “tip” is to consider your cat’s coat length. Long hair can get stuck in buckles or velcro straps, and you might find that harnesses that cover big part of your cat’s body can tangle their fur.

Activity type

If backyard exploring with your kitty or “quick” trips to the vet sound like your type of adventures, you could try minimalistic or H style harness. But if you plan on summiting a mountain peak with your pet – choose a vest type that allows full range of motion.

Medical conditions

When it comes to this one, I would advice to check with your vet first. But I thought it might be worth mentioning to spread awareness 💛

Cats struggling with asthma might experience discomfort with a harness that fastens close to their neck. And elderly babies struggling with arthritis might struggle with a harness that requires lots of “wiggling” to get in.

Climate

It’s easier to layer up to stay warm than try to cool off in summer. Chumka can easily get overheated so summers can be tough for him. Choose a minimalistic harness or a vest made with breathable material if you live in a warm place.

In the winter we put a fleece or jacket on Chumka as it can get pretty chilly here in Canada. Jacket style harness can be a good option for milder winters.

Cat walking on leash How to properly measure the cat

One of the most important thing when purchasing a harness is measuring your kitty correctly. Here is a great video explaining how to properly measure your pet.

Little personal tip: Chumka is a long skinny cat so one thing I learned is to measure the distance between his neck and girth. If your pet is in between sizes you are supposed to go with the smaller size. However, I found that the product was too short on Chumka and I had to return it. So knowing that measurement helped me to “weed out” harnesses that wouldn’t fit him right off the bat.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some FAQ about harnesses and harness training. If you still have any questions, feel free to message me on Instagram or use our contact us page 😊💛

Preparing for adventures and harness training tips

Before heading out the door, make sure your kitty is up to date with their vaccination. Safety first!

Start harness training by simply leaving the harness out in the open. We placed the harness beside Chumka’s dishes for couple days before moving to the next step. You are more likely to have a positive feedback when the product smells familiar. I also rewarded our cat whenever he smelled it, touched it, or even played with it – so he would create a positive association with it.

The first couple “try ons” should be brief – and prepare yourself for some pretty funny walks or falls. Cats often react like that to harness training but will get used to with time. Starting with a minimal style harness can help with the training as it has very little contact with your kitty’s body.

Once the cat is comfortable wearing the harness and walking around the house in it, you can try going outside. Keep the outings short until you and your cat are more confident. Pay attention to your cat’s behaviour for any “feedback” clues – you don’t want to force anything on your pet.

Little tip I learned a while back is to not let your cat go through the door on their own. When you carry your cat outside, you create the rule that she/he can’t go out on their own. It helped us a lot to train Chumka not to bolt out the door and escape.

Can you teach an old cat new tricks?

Absolutely! Though it might take a bit longer, cats of any age can be trained to be adventure cats! Bao Zi (@bestadventurecat) was 4 years old when her pawrents started training her! You totally should check Bao Zi’s page as it’s a great source of tips for training your pet.

How long does it take to harness train your feline?

As much as I’d love to give a specific number or an answer – it’s all dependable on your cat’s personality and age. Older kitties might take longer than babies – but that’s not always the case. So the time can very from hours to weeks, just to get them used to the harness and be comfortable walking with it on.

Cat on the beach Harnesses we recommend

I’m not going to do a “best overall” category as it’s a very individual thing to decide on.

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Best budget harness + best beginner harness

Featured
Great vest-type harness
rabbitgoo Cat Harness and Leash
The best budget friendly cat harness
Rabbitgoo cat harness

Why we recommend: Very budget friendly option, made from breathable material, though budget-friendly it’s very durable

I wrote a “more in-depth” review on the rabbitgoo cat harness, click here to read it.

Featured
Great minimal type and beginner harness
PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness
Great budget friendly harness
PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness

Why we recommend: Budget friendly harness that comes with a bungee-type leash, sternum slide adjusts to ensure a great fit, very lightweight

Best splurge harness

Featured
Handcrafted harness, made to last
Supakit cat harness
You can choose between leather and cork option with this harness. And it comes in various stunning colours.
Supakit harness

Why we recommend: handcrafted harness that will last you for long time, made with leather or cork (vegan option), the cork harness is waterproof

Step-in vest style harness

Featured
Great vest-type harness
RC Pet Adventure Kitty Harness
A harness specifically designed for cats
RC Pet Adventure Kitty Harness

Why we recommend: fully adjustable neck and chest piece, reflective features to keep your pet safe in the dark, great at distributing the pull force

Best dog harness to try for your cat

Featured
Best dog harness to try out for your cat
RC PETS MOTO CONTROL HARNESS
Size xs should fit a medium size kitty
RC Pets Moto Control Harness

Why we recommend: two leash rings allow you to use one of them for IDs, reflective lining to keep your pet safe in the dark, built-in handle can be used also used as seatbelt loop

Harnesses deserving a special note

Featured
One of a kind harness
ESCAPE proof CAT HARNESS by MeggyTrails
This harness is specially designed for the most professional little escape artists
MeggyTrails training harness

Why we recommend: six points of adjustments to fit your cat perfectly, lightweight and comfortable, most “escape proof” of all harnesses

Featured
Custom made harness for fit and function
The OutBound Cat Harness™
This might be the only harness that offers additional "support" in custom/XL size so your pet can be as comfortable as possible
The OutBound Cat Harness™

Why we recommend: can be custom made to fit larger or thin cats, allows full range of motion, contoured belly provides added comfort and safety

I wrote a “more in-depth” review on the The OutBound Cat Harness™, click here to read it

Kayaking with a cat Cat Backpack is your cat’s friend

Using a pet backpack can be very helpful when training your adventure kitty. It can be a safe place to “escape” from pets, humans, or anything your feline might be apprehensive of. Instead of truly escaping, your cat will just hide in the backpack. Check out my Reviews section for recommendations! 😊

I hope you found this post beneficial, I really put my heart in creating it. Please give your pet(s) some love from me 😊❤️

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Paulina, Chumka's Mom

Paulina, Chumka's Mom

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