Herding Cats? It’s Easier With a Harness
Cats in harnesses? Surely that’s just… wrong?
Yes, historically cats have roamed their turf doing their own thing without any need for human intervention (beyond doors being opened or pet doors installed).
However, as populations become denser, and traffic becomes more and more a part of life everywhere, many cat lovers are choosing to keep their feline friends as indoor pets for their own safety. In addition, some cat breeds, such as Norwegian Forest cats and Maine Coons need to be indoors, because of their long, thick fur, which is a magnet for outside pollutants.
But, even if you’ve decided an indoor life is the best for your pet, you still want to give them the opportunity to explore safely, and feel the sun on their fur. If you don’t have a large garden that you can install a cat house in, a harness may be the next best thing.
Some cats will never take to a harness, no matter how patient you are, or how young you start. (Although the younger the better – getting a curious kitten used to wearing a harness should mean you have an adult cat that doesn’t mind strolling in style.)
When you first get your cat harness, don’t try and put it on your cat right away. Lay it on the ground, ideally with some treats on and around it, and let your cat explore at its own pace. Do this over several days, until your cat no longer seems wary of approaching the harness on the ground.
The next step is to hold the harness, again with some treats, on the flat of your hand, and let your cat approach in their own time.
Once your cat is comfortable with this, start bringing the harness up to them, and offering treats when they are calm around it. Then, try placing the harness on your cat, and letting them have their regular meal while wearing it.
If your cat seems unduly stressed at any point: Stop. Give it a day or so, and go back to the beginning. If your cat never accepts the harness, don’t force them to – it’s disappointing to not be able to give your feline friend the benefit of a variety of life experiences, but there are other ways you can make an indoor environment just as exciting and fulfilling for your pet.
Try the tips shown in this video:
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This is a soft, padded harness, available in sizes XS-M, and in a range of attractive colors. You attach a leash to a top-center D-ring: combined with the soft mesh padding, the location of the D-ring ensures there is very little pressure on your pet’s chest when they are being walked in this harness.
While the chest strap is adjustable, there is no way of adjusting the neck of the harness, which means that you have to literally pull the harness over your pet’s head like a sweater – not something every cat will tolerate![amazon box=”B01HGX96U8″ template=”horizontal”]
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Available in a full range of sizes and styles, this is another padded mesh harness, offering comfort and breathability.
As this harness is designed for dogs as well as cats, it is important to be aware that cats shouldn’t be wearing it for long periods, as their narrower chests mean that the “arm” holes will end up rubbing underneath their front legs, causing discomfort. For short strolls to sample the outside, however, it would be fine, and is easy to get a cat in and out of.[amazon box=”B00M0V7UVE” template=”horizontal”]
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This is padded and water resistant (although how many cats actually want to go out in the rain?!) and has a front D-ring, as well as the top leash clip, to attach your cat’s name tag to – ideal if you were to accidentally lose the leash, for example if you tripped whilst out walking, and your cat ran off.
It can be a little bulky for smaller cats, but on large breeds, such as Maine Coons, it is ideal.[amazon box=”B01EHWTZQG” template=”horizontal”]
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This harness is a good, secure fit for most cats, and is easy to adjust.
As this fully unbuckles and is then buckled over the cat’s body, most cats are more relaxed, as they are not being pulled and pushed through small openings for heads and legs.
Of course, cats are cats, and there is no guarantee yours will take to this – but it is more suited to cats than many other harnesses.[amazon box=”B0002DHWWE” template=”horizontal”]
This is an easy to use, adjustable cat harness and leash. It fits securely, meaning that your cat can safely explore without the worry, for you, of them escaping.
Taller people may find the leash a little short, but, overall, this is a good, solid harness that is adjustable to fit most cats, and easy to put on and take off, with minimal stress to the cat.[amazon box=”B01MY4O0CE” template=”horizontal”]
If you intend on waking your cat in harness, you’re best going for the buckle-strap design, which usually features two separate, adjustable buckles, one front, one back, making the harness as a whole a lot more secure.
As these don’t involve man-handling your cat’s legs and head through various openings, they are also kinder and less stressful for your pet.
And even if you buy the very best cat harness, it’s possible your cat just won’t play along. What to do if your cat never accepts any kind of harness? Cats will be cats – just make sure, if they’re an indoor cat, that they have plenty of stimulation and habitat enhancement, including lots of different textures, other than your furniture, to exercise their claws on, and cat grass to aid digestion.