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travel and adventure

The best cat harnesses, according to avid cat travelers

Updated June 5, 2020

Created By

Madison Blancaflor, ,
Cats need exercise and adventure too. We found the 4 most comfortable and versatile harnesses for the job.

🔍 How we picked our favorites

We started with a list of highly recommended products — We compiled the Amazon and Chewy bestsellers, and asked avid cat travelers @mr._floofington and @jack_hikes_ which harnesses they love the most.

We focused on fit and variety — Comfort and fit are the two most important things to consider. We focused on building a list of high-quality options that work for most cat parents.

The essentials

  • Yes, cats need exercise too. Even indoor cats yearn for adventure. Harnesses can help you keep your cat safe while letting them explore outside.
  • Truth bomb: Your cat may never get used to a harness. Try easing them in with positive reinforcements (like treats or their favorite toys), but ultimately, you can’t change their personality. If the harness stresses them out, a cat backpack or buggy is probably your next-best option.
  • Fit is important. You should be able to fit one or two fingers between the harness and your cat’s skin.

There’s a resounding consensus among veterinary professionals that keeping cats indoors is safer. A fence isn’t gonna contain your cat, and the dangers of having a cat roam free in your neighborhood are plenty. Beyond obvious concerns like cars and other animals, poisonous plants and other toxins are everywhere. Diseases are more easily spread among outdoor cats — especially cats who are avid hunters.

But even an indoor cat needs exercise and a regular dose of adventure to stay happy and healthy. A harness is a safe way for you to be able to take willing cats on walks or other outdoor trips so they can experience life outside of your living room.

 

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Types of cat harnesses

Vests. This is the most secure form of harness and the best option for a seasoned escape artist. It’s also the bulkiest type of harness. Cats with a serious aversion to constraints might take longer to get comfortable.

H-style. This style offers a more minimal approach while remaining safe. Less fabric touches your cat, which some cats may appreciate. The downside is they’re not as secure. And thinner straps mean more pressure on certain parts of the body. Some cats are down with it, and others just aren’t.

Step-in. This type is the easiest to put on your cat because its front paws step through the harness and you don’t have to put it over their head. The trade-off is that it’s less secure for wiggly kitties.

🗝️ Comfort is key — Cats aren’t usually fond of harnesses at first, but having a comfortable option can help. Consider what material the harness is made of. For example, some cats may not like mesh or woven materials rubbing against their fur. Some cats hate the sound of velcro. Who knew?

Not having much luck finding a harness that fits both your cat’s needs and their impeccable sense of style? Try a personalized harness from Etsy! ALLCATSGOOD, for example, has cat parents raving about their harnesses and hats.

The “purr-fect” fit

Make sure the harness fits snuggly with room for just a finger or two between the harness and your cat. Any more room and your cat has more room to escape, and less and the harness could restrict air or blood flow.

It’s not a bad idea to measure your cat before buying a harness to make sure you order the right size. Remember those jeans your bought that said they were your size, but definitely wasn’t? Harness sizes also vary a bit depending on the brand. Double-check the sizing measurements provided by the company before buying.

FAQs

Are harnesses safe?

Yes! Harnesses are actually considered more secure and safer for cats than standard collars. Just remember that they may take your cat more time to get used to them.

🐱 Don’t leave your cat unattended with a harness — They could get it caught on something and accidentally hurt themselves or damage whatever they got caught on while trying to escape.

Why are harnesses better than collars?

If your cat pulls on its collar harshly, that can damage their trachea (the medical term for throat). The best cat harnesses won’t focus restriction on just the neck. This design helps prevent a straining cat from hurting or choking itself.

This isn’t to say that collars are inherently bad for cats — many wear collars with little issue. The moral of the story is that harnesses provide fewer opportunities for injury.

How to prep your cat to wear a harness?

Like anything new, it can take some time for your cat to get used to wearing a harness and walking on a lease. Ease them into it by introducing it slowly.

Gently lay it over them while you’re relaxing on the couch, and let them become used to it as an item before trying to put it on them. Then, use positive reinforcement with treats and toys to help establish positive connotations.

✅ Pro-tip. Try to use the harness around the house before going out. Cat mom to Instagram’s Mr. Floofington and Duchess Meow recommends getting them used to the new harness inside, then trying the backyard. Some of the sights and smells in the backyard will be familiar to your kitty and will make them feel more comfortable.

At a glance: Our favorite cat harnesses