Why use a Walking Harness for Cats?

This article describes how to use a cat harness.  Used in the right way a cat harness is a safe way to take your cat outside and is much more comfortable than using a collar with a lead.  A number of Cats in the UK and around the world are now "house cats" this means that they spend a lot of their time couped up inside the house and are often not allowed out in the outside world. This article describes the best way to use a cat harness to enjoy more time with your cat outside in a safe environment.

Picking cat leashes and harnesses

The first thing to understand when picking a cat harness is that Cats are not Dogs and are not bred to be kept on a lead.

With this in mind it is important that a cat uses a full harness and is not just kept on a lead attached to the collar.  If the harness is not supportive the cat may pull so much it can damage it's neck.

A good harness will consist of 2 supporting bands, one across the stomach and one across the shoulder/neck.  The attachment will often be either where the bands link or attached to the stomach.  If the attachment is on the neck supporting band this can cause the issue of choking as with standard collars.

There is some discussion over whether nylon cat harnesses are safe and what material is best.  In my experience it isn't necessarily the material that is most important but how easy to adjust the harness is.  If you can adjust it quickly it can remove any discomfort that the cat may feel.

How to use your Cat Harness 

As stated previously the cat harness does not come as naturally to a cat as it would a dog.  If your cat is used to wearing a collar it may take to the harness easier than if it is used to not having anything at all around it's neck.

Follow the steps below to train your cat:

  • Start training as soon as possible.  A kitten will adopt the harness a lot quicker than an adult cat.
  • Start with just the harness and no leash.  Get the cat used to wearing it in the house and assess any discomfort the cat may feel.
  • Once the cat is used to wearing a harness attach a leash.  At this point in time it is a good idea to have treats at the ready.  Use the treats to keep the cat occupied and practice walking the cat in an area it is familiar with.  For many house cats this will often mean walking it in the house.
  • Use the same technique but move somewhere like the garden.  Whilst the cat is still getting used to the harness it is also going to be very scared of the outside world.  When at this stage please be very aware of any outside influences that may scare or disrupt your training.
  • Now you are ready to go outside and enrich your relationship with your cat and ultimately your cats life!

Please remember your cat must feel comfortable at all times.  If your cat gets scared it may take you right back to the start.  It is not an overnight training session it can take weeks but patience is key.