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Best Cat Harnesses

Updated September 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 9 Models Considered
  • 16 Hours Researched
  • 2 Experts Interviewed
  • 110 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best cat harnesses

    Last Updated September 2018

    Do you ever get the impression that your indoor cat longs to explore life beyond the windowsill? If so, a cat harness could be the perfect solution.

    While most experts agree that keeping your cat inside is the best way to prevent disease, injury, and accidents, making sure she gets enough mental stimulation and exercise is also important. A cat harness can help keep your kitty safe when out and about, allowing her to get the best of both worlds. And with a little practice, walking your cat can be a highly rewarding experience for both of you.

    Walking a cat is nothing like walking a dog. For the most part, you'll need to allow your cat to explore at his own pace, only tugging on the lead or changing direction when you feel he’s heading for trouble.

    Our detailed guide is packed with all the information you need to find the right harness for your feline friend. We don’t take freebies from manufacturers so our reviews stay objective.

    Short on time? Take a look at our favorite harnesses to make a quick selection. If you’d like to know more about cat harnesses in general, read our shopping guide.

    EXPERT TIP

    Treats aren't just for dogs. When training your cat, be sure to keep her favorites on hand for encouragement and to reward good behavior.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Cat harness benefits

    Whether or not your cat actively communicates a desire to be outdoors, there are numerous advantages to getting Snowball accustomed to wearing a harness while outside the house.

    Daily exercise

    Yes, she is your fluffy princess, but your cat is also a natural-born hunter, a fact you're probably know well if you've ever been the victim of an early-morning ankle ambush! Regular exercise can help keep your cat happy and healthy, and it might go a long way toward keeping your Achilles tendon intact as well. Not having an outlet for pent-up energy can even lead to destructive behaviors like scratching furniture or climbing curtains. Taking your kitty for a stroll is a great way to improve her general well-being and boost her overall fitness level.

    Reduced stress while traveling

    Does your kitty pull a disappearing act the moment you bring out the carrier for trips to the vet? Using a harness can make traveling with your cat more relaxed for both of you. Even if you still need a cat carrier to get from point A to point B, having your cat on a harness will help keep him from bolting the moment you open it.

    Never tie your harnessed cat to anything or leave him unsupervised. Leads can easily become tangled and may injure or choke your cat.

    Sensory and mental stimulation

    Cats can easily become bored when confined to an indoor environment. Introducing your cat to new sights, sounds, smells, and textures will add a whole new dimension to his life. Stalking butterflies, prowling through overhanging vegetation, rolling in the grass, scratching tree bark, and pausing to identify a scent carried on the wind are just a few outdoor pleasures he'll get to experience. Processing all this fresh information will not only sharpen your cat's mental faculties but also bolster his confidence in his ability to confront daily challenges.

    Increased bonding opportunities

    Successfully learning to walk your cat requires a level of communication that goes beyond what you may already be accustomed to during your everyday encounters. You'll need to pay careful attention to her cues and learn to identify her unique environmental likes and dislikes. Similarly, as you train your cat, her trust in you will grow, enabling her to better react to your signals. Gaining a better understanding of each other ultimately results in a richer relationship.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Helping your cat get enough exercise can alleviate boredom-induced depression and anxiety.

    Cat harness styles

    No two cats are the same, and with unique personality traits come varying demands. Whether your kitty is a laid-back furball or a feisty fireball, finding the right harness style is essential. Common cat harness styles include the following.

    Strap/lead harnesses

    The slim nylon straps on these traditional harnesses make them very lightweight. They're also among the most adjustable and affordable. However, many a frisky feline has managed to wriggle her way out of one of these, and you might want to keep that in mind if you have a spirited cat.

    • Figure 8: A continuous strap forms the figure 8, with a smaller loop for the neck and a larger loop for the torso. With the lead secured to a D-ring at the center, this configuration tightens slightly when tension is applied. Unsurprisingly, these aren't the most comfortable for cats. And despite being designed to prevent escape by squeezing when your cat lunges forward (or you pull on the lead), many felines manage to break free anyway. These harnesses work best for:

      • Docile cats

      • Low-risk situations

      • Seasoned harness wearers
         

    • H-style: This harness has two separate loops for the neck and chest connected by a shorter strap between the shoulder blades, forming the letter H. Each loop fastens with a clasp/buckle and is adjustable for a secure fit. The lead is secured to the top of the rear loop with a D-ring. While they are pretty secure if sized and fastened correctly, adjusting the straps can take some fiddling. Unfortunately, most cats aren't likely to wait patiently while you get it just right. This style works best for:

      • Relaxed kitties that need a lightweight option

      • Cats that are spooked by the sound of Velcro fasteners

    Harnesses designed for small dogs are generally safe to use on cats. However, the neck portion may be wider, making it easier for cats to escape. Check your measurements carefully, or opt for a model with an adjustable neck strap.st

    Vest/jacket style harnesses

    Made from a variety of fabrics, vest-style harnesses provide improved comfort and extended coverage for added security. These are the best option for cats who can squirm their way out of just about anything. However, the Velcro fastening on some of them may alarm nervous cats.

    • Traditional vest/jacket: Resembling an item of clothing, vest harnesses generally extend from the neck to the waist, but lengths may vary. These fit over the cat’s back and fasten from below with Velcro straps at the neck and torso. The lead is attached to a D-ring on the back of the vest. This style doesn’t pinch (something that can happen with straps) and, thanks to the extensive coverage, cats are less likely to wriggle out. Vest harnesses are best for:

      • Escape artists

      • Nervous cats

      • Cats in need of superior comfort

    • Step-in vest: These tend to be smaller than traditional vest harnesses. They typically feature a breathable mesh chest piece with larger leg openings for improved mobility and comfort. It's important to note that while this style is not as secure as a traditional vest harness, it is far easier to put on. These allow your cat to step through the leg openings before the sides are pulled up and secured at the shoulder blades. Some have an adjustable neck strap, too, and may have either Velcro, buckle, or combination fasteners. The D-ring attached to thin nylon straps sewn into the fabric at the neck or shoulders attaches to the lead. These harnesses work best for:

      • Cats that wriggle or fight when putting on a harness

      • Warmer climates

      • Cats that need more security than offered by a strap/lead harnesses but not as much as a full jacket style

    CAUTION

    Never use a collar and lead on your cat. These could easily damage her delicate trachea, causing serious injury.

    Cat harness prices

    • Strap/lead harnesses

    Figure 8 and H-style harnesses are the most affordable. These typically cost between $10 and $15, depending on the quality of the harness and the brand.

    To avoid buckle and material malfunctions, we recommend spending a few dollars more on a harness from a reputable manufacturer.

    • Vest harnesses

    Step-in vest harnesses generally range between $10 and $20, depending on material, adjustability features, and brand.

    Fuller jacket-style vests can cost anywhere from $15 to over $25.

    EXPERT TIP

    For those first few forays into the great outdoors, choose quiet, low-traffic areas to avoid spooking your cat.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Tips

    Most experts advise introducing a cat to a harness early in life, but that certainly doesn't mean you can't teach an old cat new tricks. Following these tips can help.

    • Find a harness style your cat is comfortable with. This can take some trial and error. If you've tried a strap-style harness and your cat stubbornly refuses to cooperate, it may be because he’s uncomfortable. Rather than giving up, try a full jacket or step-in vest harness. Cats can be fussy, and you might need to shop around for different styles and materials before you find a harness he approves of.

    • Get the right size. Correct sizing is incredibly important. Fluffy will easily slip out of a harness that's too large. One that's too small will be uncomfortable or impossible to close. Either way, a harness that isn't sized correctly will be useless. Follow sizing guidelines and always measure twice before purchasing.

    • Before attempting to put the harness on, let your cat get familiar with it. Leaving it within easy reach so she can sniff it or play with it can help eliminate fear.

    • Let your cat wear the harness around the house. Before you attempt to walk your cat, let her wear just the harness for a few minutes each day. This will help her get used to the feel of it.

    • Practice indoors first. Once your cat is familiar with the harness, attach the lead and practice walking around the house. This allows both you and your cat to become accustomed to using the harness in a safe and friendly environment.

    • Use treats for encouragement. Giving your kitty a treat can create a positive association with wearing the harness. Offering him a tasty morsel is also a great way to communicate your approval and reinforce good behavior.

    • Always carry your cat outside. Allowing her to walk out can send the message that this is acceptable behavior, and most will continue to do so even when not wearing a harness and lead.

    • Be patient. Not all cats will take to using a harness immediately, and some may need a little more time than others. Be patient with your kitty, and don't be tempted to throw in the towel after just a few tries.
       

    While there may be a handful of cats who flat-out refuse to cooperate, with a little time, patience, and practice, most can be successfully trained to walk with a harness.

    If your cat seems distressed by being outside or simply shows no interest, don't force the matter. Some cats may not want to be outdoors, and owners will need to respect this.

    FAQ

    Q. What is the safest harness style?

    A. When sized correctly, full vest harnesses tend to be the most difficult for a cat to get out of. Thanks to their wider straps and extra padding, they're generally the most comfortable as well.

    Q. How can I tell if the harness is too tight?

    A. The best way to tell if you have a good fit is by using the finger method. Start with the neck strap. The fit should be snug while still allowing you to slide one finger between the strap and your cat's neck. Loosen the strap if you have difficulty sliding in your finger. If you can fit more than one finger, it might need to be tightened. The same method can be used for chest girth (the area directly behind the front legs).

    Q. My cat won't use a harness. Are there other outdoor alternatives?

    A. There are a handful of other safe outdoor options for cats who just won't tolerate wearing a harness. Outdoor cat enclosures and tents are available in variety of styles, ranging from simple to elaborate. These can provide cats with a safe space in which to experience outdoor pleasures. If you really like the idea of taking your cat for a walk (and your cat is willing) a pet stroller might be another option. Last, but certainly not least, is the cat patio, or “catio,” which can be connected to a window, allowing your cat to safely climb out to get some fresh air.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Erica
      Erica
      Writer
    • Kyle
      Kyle
      Writer

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