Cat harnesses are a great and safe way to get your cat outdoors. A harness can keep your cat safe while also allowing them to explore. However, fitting a cat harness isn’t always the easiest task.
In this article, we will look at how to put on a cat harness. We’ll give instructions for the most common types of cat harnesses.
Why Should You Use a Cat Harness?
Letting your cat outside to stretch its legs is a great way to provide them with some exercise as well as physical and mental stimulation. However, allowing them to roam free can be dangerous to both your cat and the other wildlife in the area.
This is where using a harness comes in. They’re more secure than a collar and a leash and they can allow your cat to safely explore the environment.
How to Put on a Cat Harness
For many cats, this is unfortunately not as simple as merely fastening the harness onto your cat. Many cats will react badly to being put into a harness so there are several steps you should take before you attempt to put the harness on.
1. Acclimatize Your Cat
The first step is to get your cat used to the harness before trying to put it on.
You should leave the harness out somewhere for your cat to inspect it to their heart’s desire. It’s best to leave it in a spot that your cat frequents and likes, such as near their food dish or in their favorite napping spot. Give them plenty of time to sniff and get used to the presence of the harness.
You can even try giving your cat treats whenever it approaches the harness so that the cat associates it with good things.
Be aware that this process could take a few days. You can’t expect to put the harness down and have the cat get used to it within 10 minutes.
Once your cat seems used to the harness, you can try to put it on. The methods for putting on a harness depend on the type of harness you purchase. Always take care to ensure your cat isn’t getting stressed and if it starts biting or scratching, consider trying again another day.
2a. Fitting A Figure-Eight Harness
Figure-eight style harnesses are so-called because they have a loop that goes around the cat’s head and one around the body. The harness looks like a figure-eight when it’s not on the cat.
The first step is to slip the small loop over your cat’s head. The place where the two loops connect should be on the cat’s back and sit just above and between the cat’s shoulder blades.
To fit the larger loop, you will need to unbuckle this first. Make sure the ends aren’t twisted at all and slip it around your cat’s body before fastening the buckle. It should fit below the cat’s front legs but in front of the back legs.
The harness should be snug to your cat’s body but should still allow enough room for you to comfortably fit two to three fingers between the harness and the cat. The harness should have some adjusters that will allow you to individually tighten or loosen the loops.
2b. Fitting An H-Style Cat Harness
H-style cat harnesses are quite similar to figure-eight ones as they also feature two loops. The big difference, however, is that there is a long straight piece that connects the two loops. When placed on the cat, this straight piece will run down the cat’s back.
Pick up the harness by the straight strap and ensure that the loops are hanging down. Slip the smaller loop over your cat’s head and make sure the straight strap sits neatly along your cat’s back.
Unbuckle the larger loop and wrap the two ends of the loop around the cat’s body, behind the cat’s front legs. Fasten the buckle and check the fit.
As with the figure-eight harness, a H-style harness should be snug but with enough space for two to three fingers to be inserted between the cat and harness.
2c. Fitting A Vest Harness
Fitting a vest harness is pretty straightforward and isn’t much different from putting a vest on yourself.
Make sure all of the fasteners on the vest are open and then place it on your cat’s back. Wrap the ends of the vest around your cat and fasten the clips, starting from the neck and working down. Some vests have their fastenings on the cat’s stomach and others on their back but the method remains the same.
As before, the vest should be snug without being restrictive. Check that your cat has enough room by ensuring you can fit a couple of fingers between the cat and the harness. Make sure there is enough space at both the neck and the bottom of the vest and adjust as necessary.
3. Let Your Cat Wear The Harness In The Home First
Even after you get your cat safely and snugly in the harness, you shouldn’t rush outside. The harness will feel strange for your cat at first so allow your cat some adjustment time in the home.
Don’t be worried if your cat flops to the floor at first as the weight of the harness will feel strange to the cat until they get used to it.
Let your cat roam around the home in the harness until it's moving as freely and quickly as it would do without the harness.
In this article, we looked at why cat harnesses are important and how the most popular styles should be fitted.
It’s important to take your time when putting on a cat harness for the first time so that your cat gets used to it and doesn’t become stressed.
If you follow the steps in this article, you and your cat should be able to enjoy the great outdoors together.
At Love4Cats, our practice involves consistent collaboration with licensed veterinarians and reputable industry experts. However, it's important to note that the content provided on Excited Cats is not intended as veterinary advice. While we strive to enhance your understanding of feline care, the information presented on this blog should not replace professional veterinary guidance.