Harness training a cat might seem like an impossible feat, but with a little love and patience, your kitty will be ready to explore the great outdoors in no time.
Walking your cat on a leash and harness is a great way to let your cat explore beyond the great indoors. Cats need exercise, play, and stimulation, and safely taking them for walks is a great way to do just that.
Needless to say, harness training your cat isn't always easy. That's why we've put together this little guide with all the steps for how to put on a cat harness and leash training a cat.
Cat Harness Training Steps
When you're first introducing your cat to their cat harness, wait until they are in a good mood and feeling calm and relaxed. Ideally, they should be laying down and purring, rather than running around and playing.
1: The most important step, always start with a kiss!
2: Help them get used to the cat harness without putting it on just yet. You can do this by showing it to them, letting them sniff it, and testing out all of its functions near them, without them in it. This will get them familiar with the smells, sounds, and feels of the harness before putting it straight on them.
3: Put the harness on your cat while indoors, and let them test it out before venturing outside. Buckle them in to the harness (without the leash) and adjust the straps to ensure it fits comfortably. It should be snug, but not so tight that it digs in to your cat’s sides. Immediately reward your cat with praise and their favorite treat. Watch the video below to see how to put on a cat harness:
Your cat could likely slump over or try to squirm out of the harness. Don’t be concerned — they are merely reacting to a strange, new object being on their body. Continue to reward your cat with petting and treats (or whatever they respond to best). If they seem extraordinarily uncomfortable, take the harness off, and try again the next day.
4: Each day, keep the cat harness on your cat for a little bit longer. They will slowly get used to the feeling. To help normalize how your cat feels in the harness, engage them in some of their favorite daily activities: feed your cat while they wear the harness, and play with them with their favorite toys.
(Pro tip: Do not rush adding the leash, clipping your cat into their cat backpack, or leash walking them outside. The more time you give your cat to adjust to wearing their harness indoors, the easier everything that follows will be.)
5: Once they are adjusted to their cat harness, start leash training indoors. You will know they are adjusted to their cat harness when they start walking around in it like normal! Attach the leash to their harness & walk around without letting there be any tension on the leash. Start out leash walking indoors for a few days, so they can get used to the feeling of the leash being attached to their cat harness.
6: Begin cat harness & leash training outdoors! With the cat harness on & leash attached, open your door on a nice day. Let your cat observe the outdoors and then carry your cat outside before setting them down. No one wants to train a kitty to door dash! Explore the areas around your home first, so your cat can get familiar with all the smells & sights of their territory. Then if your kitty feels eager to explore, maybe take a stroll around the block and slowly build up to bigger adventures if they seem comfortable!
The earlier you can start training your cat in the cat harness, the better — but it's also never too late to try. Remember, only you know your cat best, and every cat is different. Don't get frustrated with the process, patience and consistency are key whenever it comes to new things with pets!
Cat Walking Harness Types
If you didn't already have a cat harness, now is the time to get one! There are many different kinds to choose from, but the three most popular styles are the "H-Style", "Figure 8", and "Vest Harness".
H Style -
Like the name suggests, this cat harness has a band around the tummy & another around the neck, connected by another strap in the middle to form a sort of "H" shape. This style of cat harness is made of the same material/thickness as most collars, with adjustable buckles.
The Figure 8 harness loops around your cat's neck & tummy, leaving space between their front legs for flexibility & movement. These harnesses are also made out of similar material/thickness to collars, but some come in a padded mesh material as well!
Vest cat harnesses are the softest & most comfortable option for your cat, designed for very little chance of escape. They are typically made out of a padded material, with clips or velcro that fasten on your cats back or tummy. All of our harnesses are vest harnesses, because they are the very best option for harness training a cat!
Best Cat Harnesses for Leash Walking
"The True Adventurer" Cat Harness & Leash Set is our custom designed vest harness made for leash walking. Confidently take your cat out walking, training, hiking and exploring the great outdoors with this adjustable, breathable harness and leash set. This cat harness has two ways to adjust; with its velcro fastener and plastic adjustable clip, so you can make it comfy with room for your cat to grow while still ensuring a snug & safe fit so they can't escape.
Pro Tip: Measurement for our cat harness is done around your cat's chest. You want your cat's harness to be snug and fitted so they can't get out of it. When you take the measurement, make sure you're getting close and tight up against your cat -- down past all the floof! If you're between sizes, go for the bigger size if your cat is still growing, or the smaller size if they are not. For our in-depth sizing guide, click here.
The reflective strip on our cat harness enables you and others to safely spot your fur baby from afar, even when it starts to get dark. The strong nylon leash is the purrfect length (3.9 ft.) to let your cat explore things while you’re still in arms reach.
"The Captain" Retractable Leash for Cats is a great addition to this harness, giving your cat more freedom to roam while still being in your control. It clips right to the sturdy snap clip, which is constructed with premium quality metal alloy and features a 360-degree rotation to adjusts to your cat’s every move.
You can pair this harness with any of our cat backpacks - all of ours have a clip you can use to attach one! Attaching your cat's harness to a backpack is the best way to ensure that they wont escape when a wave of outdoor inspiration hits them!
Our original cat harness design now comes in two limited edition patterns!
Let your cat's inner hippy shine with this unique, limited-edition tie dye harness. The psychedelic pattern brings all the outdoorsy vibes to wherever your adventure takes you - whether that's for a soul-searching hike, or a skip around the block. It also features rose gold hardware for your super trendy kitty.
We know you like to spoil your cat, and let's be honest, they love it. All of your extra green already goes to your kitty anyways, so why not make it official? This limited edition version of our harness comes with the green cash flow pattern, along with gold hardware because your kitty is that extra.
We hope that this step by step guide for harness training a cat was helpful. If you have any other questions about how to put on a cat harness, leave us a comment or send us an email. We love getting in touch with cat-venturers!