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Article: How to Put on a Cat Harness the Right Way

How to Put on a Cat Harness the Right Way


@travelcatshop “The Bad to the Bone” harness is available on our site at! ☠️ #travelcat #catharness ♬ Bad To The Bone - George Thorogood & The Destroyers


Introducing Your Cat To The Harness

Taking your cat outdoors can be fun and beneficial–it helps your fur baby get exercise and satisfy her natural curiosity. But to walk your kitty safely, you’ll need a harness. 

Good things take time, and so does introducing your cat to her lovely new harness. The best way to do that is to:

  1. Set the harness on the floor in front of your fur baby.
  2. Let her sniff and explore it. You may want to leave it out for a few days so she gets used to the idea that it's not disappearing any time soon.
  3. Gently put the harness on your cat. Let her wear it around the house for a bit before attempting any outdoor adventures.
  4. Reward your fur baby with kisses and cat treats!

If you’re planning to travel with your kitty, be sure to pack other travel supplies as well, like an easy-to-store food bowl, a bed, and, of course, a trusty cat backpack.

The Different Types Of Cat Harnesses

When it comes to choosing the best cat harness for your kitty, there are a lot of options out there–from vests to H-shapes, and step-in harnesses. In addition to finding a harness that fits your feline’s personality, you want to be sure to choose one that matches his size.

  • For Small Kittens

For kittens, you’ll want a comfortable, small or extra-small harness. If your cat is still growing, you may want to buy a size or two up as well, so you can keep taking your kitty for walks as she gets bigger. An adjustable step-in harness like The True Adventurer Harness is a great fit for itty bitty kitties who are still growing and just getting used to wearing a harness. (Or try the kitten harness and leash set.) 

  • For Extra Small Cats

An affordable, comfortable step-in style harness can be a great fit for smaller kitties who are done growing. These types of harnesses are snug and comfy, not too tight but not too easy to get out of. If your kitty is on the little side, opt for a size small harness. You could also try an H-Style harness like "The Day Tripper", which is fully adjustable (neck, back & belly) & one size fits most! 

  • For Large Cats

Large cats need a harness that’s breathable but secure. A size large of any style harness should do the trick. While vest-style harnesses tend to be comfortable and secure, you may want to do some experimenting to see which type of harness your cat prefers. H-Style Harnesses are also a great option, as they give your kitty more freedom & flexibility to move around. 

  • For Adult Cats

For adult cats, a lightweight harness in size medium or large is your best bet. The type of harness that works best for your kitty will depend on what your little tiger is most comfortable with, but a reflexive step-in harness or H-Style cat harness is usually a safe place to start. If you’re looking for something cute and trendy, try the Stray harness, which keeps your kitty safe and comfy whether they’re out for an afternoon stroll or apocalyptic adventure.

What is The Right Fit for a Cat Harness?

The rule of thumb is that if you can fit two fingers between your kitty and the harness, you’ve got the right size. But if your cat is a little Houdini, you may need a harness with a slightly tighter fit. Vest-style harnesses tend to work well for escape artists, as there’s less space for your feline to maneuver out of. 

Of course, if your fur baby seems to be hurting or struggling to walk, you may want to check that his harness isn’t too tight.

How to Put on the Harness for Your Cat (Step-by-Step Guide) 

After you’ve properly harness trained, here’s how to put a harness on your cat.

    • Fitting an H-Style Harness On Your Cat

    An H-style harness has two loops, connected with a strap. The two loops buckle around your cat's neck & belly, securing with ergonomic adjusters. "The Day Tripper" Cat Harness is unique in that every strap adjusts, around the neck, belly and back to get the most snug fit pawsible. 

    1. Adjust the loops to the size you think they should be, then buckle the smaller loop around your fur baby's neck & buckle the larger loop around their belly & re-adjust til they fit snug. You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your kitty’s skin.
    2. Adjust the middle back strap so the neck & belly loops sit comfortably, and are not pulling on their neck. 
    3. The harness can move from side to side, but it needs to be snug to ensure the cat doesn't get out. 

    • Fitting a Vest Harness On Your Cat

    Vest harnesses fit around your cat like a sweater vest, and typically fit into place using velcro or buckles. Before putting the harness on your kitty, undo the buckles or velcro so the vest lays open.

    1. Drape the harness over your fur baby with the smaller strap in front (behind his neck), and the larger straps behind his front legs. 
    2. Fasten the smaller loop around his neck.
    3. Fasten the other straps behind his front legs.
    4. Adjust the velcro or buckles so you can fit two fingers between your kitty’s skin and his harness.


    • Fitting a Step-in Harness On your Cat

    Step-in harnesses can be a good fit for older kitties who need a little more love, though younger cats may have an easier time escaping from them. They’re called “step-in” because your cat essentially steps into it (though you may have to guide her paws).

    1. Guide your kitty’s front feet through the harness.
    2. Gently slip the front part over her head.
    3. Adjust the harness so you can fit two fingers between the material and your kitty’s skin.



    FAQs on Fitting Your Cat Harness

    How Can I Tell If My Cat Harness Is Too Tight?

    While you don’t want your kitty’s harness to be so loose that he can wriggle free and make a mad dash for it, you also don’t want the harness to be so tight that your little fur baby can’t enjoy his outdoor adventure. Your cat’s harness may be too tight if you can’t easily fit two fingers between the harness and his skin, if he seems to have difficulty walking with the harness on, or if he appears to be limping or chafing under the harness.

    Is it Possible For a Cat to Slip Out of a Harness?

    Harnesses are meant to keep your kitty from escaping, but you may be wondering if it’s still possible for your little tiger to get free, even with a harness on. The short answer is yes, it is possible. Cats can rotate their spines, which helps them slip out of a harness even after you’ve carefully buckled it on. While no harness is 100% escape-proof, as long as you fasten it on tightly enough, most kitties won’t be able to wriggle free. If your kitty is prone to daring escapes and you want to be extra safe, get a harness like The Pathfinder that includes a pocket for a GPS tracker.

    How is a Cat Harness Different From a Dog's?

    If you already have a dog harness, especially for a small dog, it may seem easier to just use the dog harness when you take your cat out for a walk. After all, how different can they be? The truth is, dog harnesses are actually quite different from cat harnesses. They can restrict a cat’s movements and are easier to escape from, which is why, while it may be tempting to just use a small dog harness for your kitty, you’re really better off with a cat harness that is specifically designed for them. 

    Pros and Cons Of Making Your Own Cat Harness?

    If you’re the crafty type, you may be wondering if you can make a custom cat harness out of that cute material you picked up the other day. While it is possible to make your own cat harness, we wouldn’t advise it. Most cat harnesses are made out of special, breathable material, and in addition, it’s hard to make a cat harness secure enough to keep your cat from escaping. So if you want to make sure your kitty’s harness is comfortable, secure, and breathable, buying a harness from cat travel experts ( like us ;)  is your best bet.

    Do Cats Enjoy Wearing Harnesses?

    From the way your kitty flops as soon as you buckle her harness on, or the way she squirms when you fasten the velcro, you’d think the cat harness is her worst enemy. So do cats actually enjoy wearing harnesses? Like most things, it depends on the cat. While most kitties will take a while to get used to the harness, they may come to enjoy it–especially if it means going for fun walks with their favorite human. 

    How Long Should You Keep Your Cat In a Harness?

    We know it can be a trick to get that harness on your kitty, so how long can you leave it on for? After introducing your cat to their harness, you may want to work up to leaving the harness on your fur baby for as long as a day or so so she can get used to wearing it. But once your cat gets used to her harness, it’s not necessary to leave it on all the time. In fact, it’s best to remove the harness when it’s not needed so your kitty is free to relax and groom herself. 

    How To Measure Your Cat For the Harness

    It’s important to measure your kitty before buying a harness so you can be sure to get one that fits correctly. Harness measurements are based on the girth of your kitty’s chest. Wrap a tape measure around your cat’s chest just behind his front legs. (Be sure to get down past all your kitty’s fluff!) If you don’t have a tape measure, you can wrap a piece of yarn or string around your cat’s chest and then measure it with a flat ruler afterward.

    Check out our newest harness style, "The Day Tripper" H-Style Cat Harness 

    Looking to purchase our harness & leash set? Check out our guide for how to measure your cat for "The True Adventurer" Harness & Leash Set.

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