Cat Harness Tips

A cat harness can be an ideal way to exercise some control over your cat when she visits the veterinarian or boarding facility, and it can also be a way for her to exercise safely outdoors. Before you can put a harness on your cat, though, you'll need to consider a few things about the fit of the harness, along with its design and construction.

How to Fit Your Cat for a Harness

Your cat's harness must fit securely at three key points on her body:

  • Her neck
  • Her belly
  • Her girth

The most important measurement you will need to fit your cat for a harness is her girth, or the circumference of her body immediately behind her front legs. Use a soft tape measure to determine this measurement, which you will use when selecting your cat's harness.

Take your cat to a local pet supply store so she can try on the different harnesses there. You can see how easily the buckles fasten and how well the harness tightens around your cat's body if she tries to run away from you in it.

Your cat's harness should first fit snugly around her neck. You should still be able to slide your finger between your pet's neck and her harness. If more than one finger fits, the harness is too loose. If no fingers fit, the harness is too tight. Once you've selected a harness that fits properly around your cat's neck, secure the larger harness loop that fits around your cat's belly. Conduct the one-finger test again to determine proper fit.

The final determining factor in harness fitting is whether your cat can slip one or both of her front legs out of the harness when the neck and belly loops are secure. If your cat can get either of her elbows out of the harness, it is too loose. If not, the fit is just right, and you've found a proper-fitting harness for your cat.

What Harness Design Works Best for a Cat

Cat owners will find three basic styles of harness for their pets:

  • The figure-8
  • The figure-H
  • The V-style

All work well on cats, so it's often a matter of personal choice and which style is the easiest for you to put on your pet. The figure-8 harness may be a bit safer for your cat since it will gently tighten on her body if she tries to pull away from you, which is important if you plan to use the harness to walk your cat. Some cat owners report that the figure-8 harness is a bit more difficult to use than the figure-H or V-style harnesses, so try each one out on your cat while you're at the pet supply store.

Whatever design you select, make sure the buckles and fasteners close securely to keep your cat safe when she wears the harness. Ideally, the harness you select should also be adjustable so it can grow with your cat.

What Harness Materials Work Well for Cats

Cat harnesses are available in leather, nylon and cotton. While leather is a durable choice, some cat owners believe it is too heavy to be used on their pets. Nylon or cotton offer lighter weight, washable alternatives that can also be long-lasting.