Cat Carriers & Harnesses

The Best Cat Carriers for Nervous Cats

Black and white cat sticking its head out of a dark greenish-bluish and light tan cat carrier. A woman is touching the cat with her left hand on the cat's neck

 

Choosing the Right Carrier for a Nervous Cat

If traveling with your cat falls under the category of “worst idea imaginable,” it might be time to invest in a new cat carrier.

Now, nothing will have your cat jumping eagerly at the door, begging for a car ride, but choosing one of the best cat carriers for nervous cats can make any cat-accompanied trip much more enjoyable.

Don’t believe me? Reading this article might change your mind!

1.  Best Overall for Nervous Cats: Amazon Basics Two Door Top Load Hard Sided Pet Travel Carrier

AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Hard-Sided Pet Travel Carrier
Simple, hard-sided carrier that is durable and easy to assemble.

Two-doors, with a top entry option to making loading easier.

This cat carrier from Amazon Basics is just that-basic. Which when it comes to nervous cats, sometimes the simpler things are, the better.

This hard-sided carrier is meant to stand up to scratchers and clawers, and the front metal door will keep errant paws from causing trouble.

This carrier comes in two sizes, a 19″ and a 23″ length so that you can accommodate any size kitty. The larger carrier is convenient for placing a comfortable bed, while the smaller size may help your fraidy cat feel more confined and secure.

For cats that are more nervous with loading in a carrier, the Amazon Basics features two doors, one at the front and one on top so that you and your cat can choose which one is more comfortable.

The top door also opens to either the left or the right, again adding convenience. This carrier comes apart in the middle so that the top can be lifted off in case you have a nervous cat that doesn’t want to come out once they go in.

But don’t worry, it secures with latches and screws when you don’t want it to come apart.

Always be sure to securely latch the top door as it also serves as the carrying handle and can come open when you lift it if you’re not careful. This is especially a problem when carrying multiple kitties or cats on the heavier side.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Easy to Use
  • Two-door access
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Top door may come open when lifted
  • Not as comfortable as a soft-sided carrier

 

2.  Easiest Storage: SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier

SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier - Front Door Plastic Collapsible Carrier, Gray and Tan, Medium (Pack of 1)
Durable, easy to clean, and can fold down for easier storage.

Can accommodate pets up to 25 pounds.

This unique carrier from SportPet features a triangular shape, rather than the more common rectangle. This shape is what makes a hard-sided cat carrier foldable for more convenient storage.

The shape also makes it easier to fit on the floor of your car. While it might seem like a triangular carrier wouldn’t be as comfortable for your kitty, this one is large enough for a smaller cat to stand or sit up as well as sprawl out. This carrier can hold cats up to 25 pounds!

The SportPet Designs Foldable Cat Carrier only has one door, but that door takes up nearly all of the carrier’s side, making it large enough to load even nervous cats conveniently. There is also plenty of holes for ventilation or for your cat to see out. The plastic sides are durable to stand up to any rough and tumble as well as persistent claws.

Since this carrier can fold for storage, always be sure that the sides and door are secured before trusting your kitty inside. A cat escape issue can occur if this carrier isn’t correctly latched when reassembled.

Pros

  • Easy storage
  • Unique shape for more convenient stowing
  • Durable plastic for easy cleanup

Cons

  • Needs reassembling if folded
  • Cats can escape if walls aren’t properly latched

 

3.  Most Versatile: PetLuv Happy Cat Premium Cat Carrier

PetLuv Happy Cat Premium Cat Carrier Soft Sided Foldable Top & Side Loading Pet Crate
Optimal ventilation cat carrier with four access panels and adjustable shoulder straps for more comfortable transport.

Adjustable seatbelt loops, locking zippers, and reinforced seams makes it a good carrier for traveling by car.”]

For cats whose nervousness makes them difficult to load, the PetLuv Happy Cat Premium Carrier offers four access options. All four sides double as doors should you need them to coax your nervous kitty in or out.

These four doors are made of rubber mesh so that this carrier feels more open for those claustrophobic or curious felines. It also has roll-down solid curtains should your cat want some privacy.

This is a soft-sided carrier, making it convenient to fold and store, as well as comfortable to carry. It comes in many different sizes, some even with wheels. The different size options will allow you to outfit your kitty with a comfortable bed to make them feel more at home.

The doors open with zippers that can be locked to block any clever escape attempts. It also comes with seatbelt loops to securely fasten your cat into any car seat to prevent rolling and tumbling while on the road.

Since this is a soft-sided carrier, it’s not meant for destructive travelers. Kitties on an escape mission should be able to tear through the rubber mesh and get away. It works best for kitties who are more afraid of the entry than actually being in the carrier.

Pros

  • Provides lots of visibility or privacy
  • Easy access for quick loading
  • Convenient storage

Cons

  • Material can be scratched or clawed
  • More expensive

 

4.  Most Private: Prefer Pets Hideaway Duffel

Prefer Pets Hideaway Pet Airline Approved Travel Carrier Duffel Bag & Backpack
Easy to carry and airline approved.

Privacy covers can roll down for extra privacy.

Side pocket is convenient to hold small items like snacks, medication, waste bags, etc.

If comfort, or lack thereof, is the reason for your cat’s nervousness about travel, look at the Prefer Pets Hideaway Duffel. This duffel is easy to carry, provides plenty of seclusion, and even blocks some noise.

The mesh top and sides allow for extra ventilation or can be covered with lined, roll-down curtains to block out the world.

This carrier has three doors, one at the top and one on each end, to provide quick loading and unloading access. There is a harness clip inside should you want the added security of fastening your kitty inside of the carrier.

There is also a large storage pocket located on the outside of this carrier to store treats, catnip, or other travel necessities to keep your kitty calm.

This is a soft-sided carrier, making it a risk for destructive cats. It also doesn’t have zipper locks to keep the doors securely fastened, and some persistent cats can push through the doors by unzipping the zippers. You can place your own lock on the zippers, though. It just doesn’t come equipped with them.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Provides seclusion and privacy
  • Easy to carry

Cons

  • Can be unzipped
  • Mesh can be clawed or scratched

 

5.  Most Durable: Petmate Sky Kennel

Petmate Sky Kennel, 28 Inch, IATA Compliant Dog Crate for Pets 15-30lbs, Made in USA
Heavy duty plastic shell makes this carrier very sturdy.

Carrier meets most airline cargo specifications for easy and safe travel, but you should always confirm this with individual airlines.

Petmate Sky Kennels are designed for airline travel, so this one should solve your durability issues if your cat’s escape plan includes digging themselves to freedom.

It also features a metal door that serves as structural reinforcement, which may be necessary when traveling by plane. This door is large, making the loading game a bit less tricky.

This cat carrier also has metal screens on the sides that serve as vents or windows for those curious travelers. However, there is still ample enough room for those cats that prefer to hide behind the solid parts of the walls.

The Petmate Sky Kennel comes in a variety of sizes to get the perfect fit for whatever size your cat, or cats, may be. Larger sizes may be more comfortable and easier to load your cat into. However, smaller sizes may be easier to carry around.

When choosing a size, the measurements listed on the chart are for the outside dimensions. Keep in mind that the inside dimensions will be slightly smaller, so when in doubt, go for the bigger one. The larger sizes tend to be heavy as well, so be careful when using the carrying handle as it can break when lifting heavier kitties.

Pros

  • Ready for airline travel
  • Many sizes to choose from
  • Sturdy and durable

Cons

  • Not as comfortable as other carriers
  • More expensive than other carriers

 

Best Cat Carrier for Nervous Cats Buying GuideBest Cat Carrier For Nervous Cats Buying Guide

If you have a nervous kitty, having a comfortable and secure cat carrier is a must. When choosing that perfect carrier, there are several things to consider.

 

What Makes Cats Nervous When Traveling?Grey, brownish cat with black straps coming out of a purple soft carrier. The cat looks a little timid coming out of the carrier.

To find the best carrier for your nervous cat, you first need to understand what makes them nervous. For some kitties, their nervousness comes from being pushed into a cramped, dark, plastic box.

And who could blame them?

For kitties that dread the loading procedure, look for a cat carrier with multiple door options, especially a top door.

This allows you to set your cat down into the carrier rather than trying to push them in. Having larger and more ventilation “windows” may also help the cat carrier appear more open and shed some light on the interior, easing some cat’s apprehension.

For other cats, the nervousness isn’t in the loading; it’s in confinement. Maybe they don’t like the rough and tumble of being jostled around. Or they don’t appreciate four walls closing in on them.

This may cause them to scratch, claw, wail, or look for another means of escape. For kitties that scratch or claw, look into a hard-sided cat carrier. While they might not be as plush and comfy, they’re more durable and able to withstand some nervous slashing.

If, instead, your kitty seeks more comfort, look into a soft-sided carrier that can easily be toted. Adding a soft bed and windows/openings that can open or close (depending on whether your cat wants to look out or would prefer to be unseen), is an excellent option for comfort.

 

The Safety of a Cat Carrier for Nervous CatsGrey cat with dark orange eyes half way out of a purple hard case carrier. The carrier is in the car, and the cat is looking over to the left.

Your next big concern when choosing a cat carrier for your bundle of feline nerves is safety.

Safety is always a priority when traveling with your furry friend, but especially so with nervous cats. They are more likely to devise and execute escape plans. If your cat is a scratcher, you will want to get something that can withstand cat claws.

You may also want something with lockable doors. Whether they close with zippers or springs and pins, the ability to lock the doors will prove invaluable if you have a feline Houdini. You’d be surprised what a persistent kitty can do.

Many can push zippers open and pop the metal spring, especially if it isn’t closed correctly. Some cat carriers may come with locks or secondary buckles already in place, while others may provide the ability without the actual lock. Whichever the case, always backup the closing device of your cat carrier.

Whether you’re planning to fly or spending long periods in a car, the durability and sturdiness of a cat carrier may become important.

There may be a lot of jostling, packing, and stacking when you travel by airplane, so make sure your carrier can hold up. You also may want to make sure it has some stability if in a car accident.

If you choose a soft cat carrier, go with one that can be buckled in with a seatbelt. You may also choose a carrier that allows your cat’s harness to be fastened to the inside. This will prevent your kitty from busting out whether they can get the door open or not.

 

Other Features of Cat Carriers for Nervous CatsSmall multi-colored kitten in a white cat carrier. Kitten is lying down looking towards the left.

Once you have your safety and loading capabilities chosen, it’s time to pick out the perks. After all, if you’re more comfortable when traveling, your cat will be as well.

You need to pick a cat carrier that will be big enough to be comfortable for your cat, but it can be awkward and heavy for you to carry. If that’s the case, consider a cat carrier with wheels. Or for soft-sided cat carriers, one with a shoulder strap. The more conveniently and comfortably you can carry your cat, the more at ease they will be.

You can also look into a cat carrier with pockets for storage of necessities like treats and leashes. Finally, look at your storage situation when the carrier’s not in use. If you’re worried about where you’ll store it for the rest of the year, think about a model that folds or can be taken apart easily.

 

Conclusion

Traveling with any cat is usually no picnic, but traveling with a nervous cat can be downright unpleasant. Choosing the best carrier for your nervous cat buddy is essential. It can help make traveling more comfortable and safer for your cat and make the loading process much easier for you.

The 5 Best Escape Proof Cat Harnesses – Tested and Reviewed

Maine Coon Cat standing up on grass wearing a harness

 

Finding the Perfect Escape Proof Harness for Your Cat

I know what you’re thinking…why in the world would you need an escape proof cat harness?  Harnesses are only for dogs right?

That’s exactly what I thought at first.  But now that we have 5 cats (soon to be more) at home, I’ve realized that a good harness is essential to the freedom and happiness of both you and your cats.

If you have an indoor cat, it would be next to impossible for them to enjoy the outdoors without running away as soon as you open the door.  A secure and comfortable harness is the perfect way to let your cats enjoy the outdoors while protecting them from any harm.  Even if you have an outdoor cat, a good harness makes your life much easier if you have to travel with your pet.

The real problem is choosing the perfect cat harness for your furry little family member.  There are dozens of different harnesses on the market.  That’s why I decided to buy some with the highest reviews, test them on my own cats, and see which ones are truly worth your money.

Here are the best escape proof cat harnesses I’ve tested and feel will provide you with the most security and value.

1.  Overall Best Harness:  Yizhi Miaow Escape Proof Cat Harness with Leash

Yizhi Miaow Cat Harness and Leash for Walking Escape Proof for Winter, Adjustable Cat Walking Jackets, Padded Stylish Cat Vest, Sailor Suit Navy, Medium

 

  • Type:  Padded harness vest type
  • Leash:  Leash included
  • Securing method:  Buckle free.  Magic Tape enclosing system
  • Reflective strips:  None

This escape proof cat harness by Yizhi Miaow is probably the best harness I’ve tried overall.  The material is soft and comfortable, the harness feels secure, and it’s easy to put on.  Also, the design is cute too.  The harness fully opens up, which makes it easy to put it on your cat.  Instead of slipping the harness over your cat’s head (as many other products require), you can just wrap the neck and chest strips around your fur baby. You can then easily adjust how snug this harness fits with their Magic Tape enclosure system (aka Velcro).

The Magic Tape enclosure replaces any belts or buckles, which simplifies the process of putting it on your cat.  However, I prefer a harness that uses buckles.

This is just my opinion.  The harness feels very secure, and it would be very, very, very unlikely that a cat can open up the Magic Tape enclosure on their own.  It’s probably 100% psychological, but a harness that uses buckles feels more secure to me.

That being said, I have no fears of any of my cats being able to break open the Magic Tape straps.  I would be surprised even if a dog could break the straps open.  I had no problems putting it on my cats, and they seemed to be comfortably walking around in it.

I highly recommend this if you want a cute vest harness that has an outstanding balance of comfort, security, and is easy to use.

A side by side photo of the Yitzi-Miaow cat harness. It is a vest style of harness, with a sailor outfit design (blue and black with white stripes). The left side shows the front of the vest, while right shows the back. Both front and back images show the blue and white leash above it.
Yitzi-Miaow vest harness (front and back)

Pros

  • Magic Tape enclosure makes it simple to secure your cat into the harness
  • Soft material
  • Cute design

Cons

  • While the Magic Tape enclosure works well, the sound of separating the Velcro can scare some cats
  • The Velcro on the straps can stick to things (carpet, fabric, etc.) if not fully covered

Important Tip:  Measuring Your Cat

No matter which cat harnesses you buy, DO NOT choose a size based on your cat’s weight alone.  Be sure to carefully measure your cat (neck and chest) to get the most accurate size.

Buy from Amazon here:  Yizhi Miaow Escape Proof Cat Harness with Leash

 

2.  For Larger Cats:  Voyager Step-In Air Pet Harness

Voyager Step-In Air Dog Harness - All Weather Mesh Step in Vest Harness for Small and Medium Dogs by Best Pet Supplies - Red, X-Small
  • Type:  Air mesh vest type
  • Leash:  Leash sold separately
  • Securing method:  Hook and loop fastener, buckle, and double D rings
  • Reflective strips:  2

The design of the Voyager Step-In provides a unique way to secure the harness to your cat.  Many products require you to slip the harness over your cat’s head.  Any cat lover will already know that cats DO NOT like having anything put over or on their head.

That’s where this Voyager step-in harness stands out.  To secure this harness to your pet, you simply slip your cat’s legs through the sleeves, wrap it around their body, and secure it with the buckle.  I found this method to be much easier and safer than a harness that needs to be slipped over your cat’s head.

A grey cat with black stripes lying on green grass. The cat is wearing a black vest style harness that has a pink border on it. The leash is attached (pink) and someone is holding it off camera. The cat vest brand is Voyager. The cat's face is looking down, so we just see the side profile of the cat.
Our lovely Maxi going for a walk while wearing the Voyager cat harness.

The material is breathable and feels nice and light.  My cats seem to like it, so I’m assuming it’s as comfortable as it looks.  The buckle and double D rings make it feel secure.  Because of this harness’s design, there is minimal pressure on your cat’s neck (as opposed to a collar leash).  This makes it easy for your cat to walk around comfortably.

However, this Voyager cat harness is not for all cats.  Very small cats or cats with small heads could probably slip out of this harness rather easily.  However, the only way you should be using a harness is by training your cat to use it first (see the “how to use a harness guide” below).A grey cat with black stripes lying on green grass. The cat is wearing a black vest style harness that has a pink border on it. The leash is attached (pink) and someone is holding it off camera. The cat vest brand is Voyager. We see the cat from the back, as it's facing away from the camera.

Pros

  • Designed to slip on over your cat’s legs, not their head
  • Air mesh material is light and breathable
  • The triple safety measures:  Hook & loop fastener, buckle, and double D rings feel very secure
  • Reflective bands on harness to improve visibility
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Small cats or cats with smaller heads could have an easier time getting out of the harness
  • Does not come with a leash

Buy from Amazon here:  Voyager Step-In Air Pet Harness

 

 3.  Best Strap Harness:  Unihubys Cat Harness with Leash Set- Stylish and Efficient

Cat Harness with Leash Set- Adjustable Embroidered Bee H Style Harness and Leash for Walking (L, Green)
  • Type:  Nylon “H strap” type
  • Leash:  Leash included
  • Securing method:  Adjustable straps and buckles on both neck and chest strap
  • Reflective strips:  None

I was really impressed with this cat harness.

It is a simple “H” type of harness that is both stylish and effective. If you are planning to use an “H” strap type of harness (as opposed to the vest type), this is probably the best one out there.

When I first used it, I thought to myself, “why don’t other strap harnesses use this type of design?”  Many other strap harnesses don’t have an adjustable neck strap.  The Unihubys cat harness has a fully adjustable neck and chest strap.

This harness also has buckles on both the neck and chest strap.  This makes putting on the harness simpler and feels much more secure.  Instead of slipping the harness over your cat’s head, you can wrap the straps around your cat (neck and chest) and buckle it in to close.  While the harness itself feels very secure, you’ll still need to train your cat for it to be truly safe and effective.

Both the harness and leash come embroidered with a stylish bee design.

The simple design and fully adjustable straps make this one of the easiest and effective cat harnesses you can buy.

The only negatives are that the “H” part of the harness (the strap that connects the neck band to the chest band) is not adjustable.  So, you may run into some problems if you have a cat with a long body or a big chest and neck.  However, most other harnesses I’ve seen don’t have an adjustable “H” strap either.  The Unihubys harness fits nicely on my cats, and I’m impressed at how well it works.

Unihubys brand strap type cat harness. The harness is shown with the leash above it. Both have a dark green color with a red strip going through the center. There are small yellow bee designs throughout it as well. On the leash, there is a bigger bee emblem attached to it.
Unihubys strap style of cat harness

Pros

  • Simple design makes it easy to use
  • Fully adjustable neck and chest straps
  • Cute bee design embordered on both harness and leash

Cons

  • Center “H” strap cannot be adjusted
  • Doesn’t protect from the elements like a vest harness would (cold weather, etc.)

Buy from Amazon here:  Unihubys Cat Harness with Leash Set

 

4.  For Smaller Cats:  GAUTERF Dog and Cat Universal Harness with Leash

Kitten Harness with Leashes Set, Escape Proof Cat Harness, Adjustable Reflective Soft Mesh Vest Fit Puppy Kitten Rabbit Ferrets's Outdoor Cat Harness (Grey, XXS, Chest: 6' - 7')
  • Type:  Soft mesh fabric vest type
  • Leash:  Leash included
  • Securing method:  Velcro, buckle, and leash rings
  • Reflective strips:  360° omnidirectional 3M reflective strip

The Gauterf escape proof cat (and dog) harness is a great option that has a good balance between comfort, security, and ease of use.  The price is very reasonable too.  It has a sound method for securing your cat to the harness, has nice reflective strips for higher visibility, and feels very comfortable.

The Velcro fastening system, along with the security buckle makes the harness feel secure when it’s closed.  It is also pretty easy to put on your cat (if they are trained).

However, there is one HUGE thing we didn’t like about this harness (actually two things, but they are related.  On our very first use, the stitching that holds the Velcro pad in place came off at the corner.  This must have been a manufacturing defect, since we literally just opened it up put it on our cat.  When were securing the harness with Velcro fastener, we noticed that part of it was not secured.

A picture of the Gauterf pink cat vest harness (back). A hand is pointing to the white Velcro patch that is coming off from its stitching.
The stitching holding the Velcro pad in place was already coming off from the first use (at least that’s when we noticed it)

While this is most likely due to a defective product, there is an issue with the overall security that I also had issues with.

The harness’s design and shape doesn’t feel as “escape proof” as other harnesses on this list.  I’m not saying it’s bad…because it’s not.

While no harness is 100% escape proof, I feel that the Gauterf product is more easily escapable than other options.  This may be due to the difficultly in finding the right size harness for your cat (average to big sized cats).  The harness needs to fit properly around their body and legs, so if your cat is bigger or longer than “normal,” it might be hard to find the perfect size for your pet.

The other harnesses mentioned above, like the Yizhi Miaow vest or the Unihubys strap product, feel more secure.  That being said, depending on the size and shape of your cat, the Gauterf harness might be much more comfortable.

Also, unlike the Yizhi Miaow and Unihubys models, the Gauterf harness comes equipped with reflective strips.  If you take your pet out during low light conditions, these reflective strips are essential, and can even save you and your pet’s life.  So, if you plan on walking in the early morning or early evening, the Gauterf model is probably your safest bet.

In addition to having reflective strips, the Gauterf harness has the edge when it comes to small cats.  If you want a harness for small cats or kittens, this is probably the best choice in terms of fit and ease of use.

A pink Gauter vest style cat harness (2 photos side by side). The left photo shows the front of the harness, and the image on the right shows the back/inside of the harness. Both images include the pink leash below it.
Gauter vest harness (front and back)

Pros

  • Easy to adjust
  • Reflective strip around vest for 360° total reflection of light
  • Good fit for small cats and kittens

Cons

  • Feels that bigger cats can escape this harness easier than other models
  • Sizing can be difficult to find the right fit
  • The stitching on part of the Velcro pad came off after the first time we used it.

Buy from Amazon here:  GAUTERF Dog and Cat Universal Harness with Leash

 

5.  DCSUIT Cat Harness Leash Set – A Sleek Design

ADCSUITZ Cat Harness and Leash Set,Escape Proof Walking Outdoor Safety Soft Mesh Breathable Body Harnesses,Personalized Black Adjustable Vest Top Lightweight Comfort for Kitten/Puppy/Small Animals
  • Type:  Cushioned, air-mesh fabric vest type
  • Leash:  Leash included
  • Securing method:  Velcro for neck band, buckle for chest band
  • Reflective strips:  None

The Dcsuit harness has a slightly different design than what I’m used to.  It looks cool (both in style and temperature), feels secure, and seems to give your fur baby the most freedom in terms of their range of motion.

Compared to other vest harnesses on this list, the Dcsuit is much more minimalistic and provides more open space for your cat’s body and legs.  This design looks like it won’t affect any type of action your pet does, while still providing comfort.  Other harnesses have leg holes or vests that cover more of your cat’s body.  While this can be good in some cases (weather conditions, size of your cat, etc.), it can also impede some of your cat’s movements…especially if you don’t get it properly fitted.

This makes the Dcsuit model a good choice if you want the freedom of a strap harness, but still want the comfort of a vest type of a harness.

The neck strap can also be fully opened, which makes putting it on a little easier.  The adjustable straps, along with the Velcro and buckle, makes it feel very secure.  However, I think that this harness is a little more challenging to put than the others on this list.  The first time trying to put it on was especially rough…but it doesn’t take very long for you to get used to it.  Once you put it on a few times, it becomes pretty straight forward.

A pink, DcSuit brand cat harness (front) with the pink leash on the left.
Dcsuit vest harness

Pros

  • Small vest allows your cats to move more freely
  • No small leg holes you need to put your cat’s feet into, which makes finding the right size easier
  • Neck strap opens to make putting it on easier

Cons

  • No reflective strips
  • Doesn’t provide as much cover in colder weather as other vest harnesses
  • It was more difficult to put on our cat that the other harnesses

Buy from Amazon here:  DCSUIT Cat Harness Leash Set - Escape Proof

 

Cat Harness Buying Guide – Important Information You Need to KnowLots of cat harnesses and leashes hanging from a display in a store. A woman's hand is seen browsing through them.

If you’re new to using a cat harness, the information in this section will teach you all of the basics;  choosing the right harness for your pet’s needs, training your cat, and important tips you should know.

 

Why Should I Buy a Cat Harness?A young girl with dirty blonde hair wearing a red, long sleeve shirt, black pants, grey socks, and brownish shoes. She is walking a cat using a cat harness and leash. The cat she is walking is a yellow cat with white patches in what seems like a park. They are on a walking path sounded by green grass, trees, and a small pond on the right side.

Probably the most common reason people use a harness is to take their cats outside and enjoy the outdoors.  This is usually a real treat for indoor cats, and most of them love their time outside.

However, there are other reasons you might want to get a harness for your little furry family member:

Replacement for a carrier:  Some cats freak out when they are put into a carrier.  The freedom of a harness might make them feel at ease when you need to travel somewhere.  This might be especially useful at places like their veterinarian.

The outdoors is a new/overwhelming experience:  While most cats love to explore outdoors, some indoor cats might be apprehensive about going outside.  Using a harness can help them to enjoy the outdoors safely.

Providing exercise and stimulation:  Taking your cat for walks not only provides them with exercise but also a change of scenery can fun for both you and your little one.

 

What to Look for When Buying a Cat Harness

There are so many different types and brands of cat harnesses that it’s hard to know which one you should buy.
To help you decide, let’s break down the 2 different types of harnesses you can buy.

  • The strap type or “H” strap harness
  • The vest/jacket harness

 

Strap / H Strap Harness

The strap type of harness consists of two collars (one for your cat’s neck and one for their chest) connected by a shorter piece of fabric.  The result is a strap that looks like the letter “H.”

Generally, the neck and chest straps are fastened with a plastic buckle or clip.  Quite often, strap harnesses require your cat to put his head through the neck collar.  This requires training since most cats are uncomfortable with having something on or around their head.

Advantages

  • Strap harnesses are usually small and are very open.  This means your cat has more range of motion in their movements.
  • Takes up very little space and can probably even fit in your pocket.
  • Keeps your cat cooler in hot weather (compared to a vest harness)
  • Not as bulky and heavy as a vest
  • Simple design can make it easier to find a strap vest than fits well (as opposed to vest harnesses)

Disadvantages

  • Usually not as comfortable as most vest harnesses
  • Can’t protect your cat from colder weather as well as a vest/jacket harness
  • SOME strap harness designs can put more pressure on your cat’s neck when using a leash.  Usually, vest harnesses distribute the pressure more heavily on your cat’s torso.

 

Vest / Jacket Harnesses

There are many variations on this type of harness.  You find vests that only cover the chest of your cat, while others can cover most of their torso.

The method to secure these types of vests to your cat varies with each brand.  Some require you to put either your cat’s head or front legs through holes in the vest.  Others have no sleeves for your cat’s neck or legs.  Instead, you simply wrap the open collars around your cat’s neck and torso and fasten it with a Velcro strap.   Some brands also utilize a buckle or clip as a second safeguard to keep your pet secure.

Advantages

  • The padding or soft fabric can be more comfortable than strap harnesses
  • Better suited for colder weather since it covers more of your cat’s body than a strap harness
  • Some vests distribute the pressure of the leash to your cat’s torso better (as opposed to the neck)
  • Generally has more security features (multiple safeguards to secure your fur baby, reflective strips for higher visibility, etc.)

Disadvantages

  • Can be difficult to find the right size since there are more variables involved for fitting (leg/neck sleeves, bulkiness of the vest, etc.)
  • Heavier and bulkier than most strap harnesses
  • Depending on the brand/model, vest harnesses can be easier for cats to escape than a strap harness
  • The sound of the Velcro strap could scare some cats

 

How to Choose the Perfect Cat Harness for YouA black cat with yellow eyes lying on green grass. The cat is wearing a pink harness, with someone holding the leash off camera.

There are 3 basic things you should consider when choosing a harness for your cat.

  1. Environment:   Where will you be taking your cat?
  2. Comfort:  The best fit for the shape and size of your cat
  3. Convenience:  It the harness easy to use, wash, and store?
  4. Quality:  Is the harness durable?  Will it last a long time?

 

Here’s a General Summary to Help You Choose:

Vest harness:  Usually provides more comfort, security, and is better suited for different types of weather.  However, it may be difficult to find the right size.

Strap harness:  Small, compact, and lightweight.  Usually allows your cat to move more freely.  Takes up little space if you need to travel with it.  Easier to take care of/wash than vest harnesses.

Both vest and strap harnesses:  Usually made of strong fabric and are durable.  Malfunction or damage usually occurs on any buckles or clips.

Important Tip: Adjustable Neck Collars

When it comes down to it, you want the most secure and comfortable harness for your cat.  If you don’t know which one to choose, make sure to buy one with an adjustable neck collar.  The neck collar is usually what keeps your cat in the harness securely.

 

Measuring Your Cat for a Harness

To ensure you get a harness that fits your cat well, you need to measure your cat’s neck and chest girth.  DO NOT choose a size based on their weight alone.

Also, be sure to take the measurements more than once.  I took it several times to make sure I got the most accurate measurements.

Check out this video to see the right way to measure your cat for a harness:

The “Escape Proof” Cat Harness Myth

Many people think that once they buy a cat harness, all they need to do is put it on their can, attach a leash, and then “presto!” they can go out into the world and take their fur buddy for a walk.

WRONG!

Unless your cat is super calm and obedient, there is only one way to use a cat harness.

You need to TRAIN your cat to be able to use a harness.

 

How to Use a Cat Harness –  Training Your Cat

Even though most products are labeled “escape proof,” there is no such thing as a 100% secure cat harness.  I’ll bet that any cat can escape from any harness on the market.  And that’s exactly what will happen if you just try to put a harness on your cat without training.  They’ll instantly try to take it off, or at the very least, show that they are annoyed.  Or, they could even freak out and start going crazy.  You and your cat don’t need that kind of stress.

However, if you train your cat, a harness can be highly effective, and you can feel safe taking your precious pet out for short walks outdoors.

Your cat will eventually get used to the harness, so just remember to be patient.  It will all be worth it!

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to train your cat to wear a harness:

  • Step 1:   Allow your cat to get used to the harness.  Show it to them and let them smell, touch, and play with it.
  • Step 2:  Give the rewards (treats and/or affection) with the harness next to them.
  • Step 3:  Open up the harness and coax your cat to go through it themselves (using treats)
  • Step 4:  Once you get the harness on your fur baby (patience required here!), leave it on them without buckle/closing it.  Let them get used to the harness being on their body.
  • Step 5:  Allow your cat to go through the harness and buckle/close it.  If they are ready, adjust the straps to secure them in fully.  When they get used to this, connect the leash.  Remember to give them treats to reward them.
  • Step 6:  Allow them to walk around indoors until they feel comfortable. Even after my cats were comfortable wearing it indoors, I still didn’t take them around the neighborhood.  I let them walked around for a few minutes each day in my enclosed yard…just in case.

Here’s a video showing you all the details of training your cat to use a harness:

Cat Training Tips

Be sure to train your cat for only a few minutes at a time.  If you overdo it by leaving the harness on too long, your cat might not want to put it back on again.

When you do take your cat outside, try to avoid heavily trafficked areas or areas with lots of noise.

If your cat tries to escape the harness by backing out of it, give the leash some slack.  Pulling the leash may help your cat escape.

Bring a nice pet blanket on your walks.  If your cat becomes scared or stressed, you can use the blanket to cover them and calm them down.

 

A Few Extra Suggestions…

Lastly, here are a few things you should be aware of.

Do Not:

  • Do not leave your cat unattended while they are wearing the harness.  The harness could catch on something, and your cat could get stuck.
  • Do not take your cat out to dangerous areas until they are properly trained.
  • Do not walk your cat for long periods of time.  This could make them uncomfortable or stressed, even if they are trained.  Shoot for a 10 – 15-minute walk.

Do:

  • Do be patient with your cat.  It takes time to train them properly and get them used to walking outside on a leash.
  • Do bring treats with you on your walk to reward them for good behavior.
  • Do enjoy making memories outside with your furry little friend. 😊

I hope this article could help you find the right harness for your little bundle of joy.  Feel free to drop a message below if you have any questions or comments.  Until next time, I hope your cat is happily purring!