When I am out walking my cat on a harness and leash, I am well aware that this is not exactly the most widely accepted practice. However, knowing the benefit of having my cat experience the outdoors in a safe manner certainly outweighs the slightly awkward glances I get from my neighbours. For the most part, people’s responses have been quite positive; I get lots of comments about how cute Jones is all suited up in a harness that matches his eye colour, which is usually followed by people asking me where to get a harness for their own furry feline.
Here I will discuss many of the important considerations when choosing the appropriate harness for your cat. Because the harness is responsible for keeping your cat safe and secure, this is arguably the most important piece of equipment on your adventure cat.
Not all cat harnesses keep your cat safe
Not only must a cat not be able to slither their way out of the harness, but harnesses also need to be strong enough to withstand a sudden jolt when your cat darts towards something. Before I got smart about harness selection, I had a few experiences where I was left holding a leash and harness with no cat. Luckily it was early in the morning and my cat, Jones, just darted home. However, these experiences highlighted the fact that not all cat harnesses are created equally.
The first harness I put on Jones was one with thin nylon straps. This is generally the most common one you find at pet stores. But Jones was able to easily maneuver his slender body out of the flimsy straps. Jones is a nervous kitty and has been known to spook at a thing or two. Based on my experiences, I highly recommend you avoid any harness that is of the thin-strapped variety.
A vest is best
If you are shopping at a local pet store choose a harness that covers much more of the cat’s body like a vest. The vest that I used for Jones (made by RCpets) is a soft nylon material that is fastened by velcro and fits more like a little vest. It covers a lot more of Jones body, than the previous harness, making it difficult (but not impossible!) to pull out of. Jones has had a few panicky moments where he has tugged so hard at the leash that one of his legs pulled through the front.
It is also worth mentioning that these harnesses may be designed for dogs, however they are perfectly acceptable for cats to wear as long as they are fitted properly – a good rule is for the harness to be snug but you should be able to fit one or two fingers in between the harness and your cat’s fur.
Think holster not harness
While I feel comfortable with Jones wearing the vest for jaunts in our yard and around the neighbourhood, if we adventure further from home, Jones will be wearing a bodysuit with flashing neon lights. All jokes aside, I am open to trying something that provides, even more body coverage to give me the confidence to venture further from home. Based on my theory that the more surface area of the body is covered, the harder it will be to slip out of, I've created a Cat School exclusive harness for cats. Even more reassuring is the many kitties I see many kitties on Instagram that are exploring the world safely with their holsters on.