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Can A Cat Wear A Harness All The Time? Facts & FAQ

Cassandra Kyser

By Cassandra Kyser

Lady walking cat with harness

Part of leash training your cat is getting them used to wearing a harness. Some cats adapt to a harness easily. Others will need time to adjust to wearing something on their bodies. Putting a cat harness on and taking it off can cause a lot of feline drama!

It might seem that the logical solution is to leave a harness on all the time. However, this isn’t a good idea for several reasons. Cats should only wear harnesses while supervised and for short periods.1

Why Can’t a Cat Wear a Harness All the Time?

Even the most well-designed cat harness can become uncomfortable after several hours of wear. Cats who wear a vest-style harness can get too hot. A harness also interferes with a cat’s natural instinct to groom itself.

Spending the day harness-free is also a matter of safety. A harness can get caught on furniture and other objects, potentially trapping your cat and causing injury.

Can I Leave My Cat In a Harness Overnight?

Unlike humans, cats do not spend the night sleeping. Most nap off and on throughout the night, with bursts of activity at dusk and dawn.2 It’s best to remove a harness anytime you can’t supervise your cat, including overnight.

What Kind of Harness Do Cats Prefer?

Most cat harnesses fall into one of two categories, loop and vest. Both harness styles have their pros and cons.

a cat wearing a harness
Image Credit: M.Pakats, Shutterstock

Loop Harnesses

Cat loop-style harnesses have two loops, one that goes around the cat’s neck and another that goes around the chest.3 These two loops are then connected by one or two straps that run along the cat’s spine and belly. These styles are also called “H” or “I” harnesses because of their shape.

One benefit of these harnesses is that they are lightweight. These harnesses may be more comfortable for larger or extra furry kitties, and those in hot climates.

Loop harnesses can be difficult to take on and off. First-time users may have difficulty figuring out which loop goes over the cat’s head and which goes over its chest. Some cats may attempt to chew through the harness straps.

Vest Harnesses

Vest-style harnesses are exactly that—a cloth vest that wraps around a cat’s chest.4 This style of harness is also called a cat holster.

Some owners find that vest harnesses are easier to slip on and off their cats. Others feel like they have more leash control when their cat is in a vest harness.

The downside to a cat vest harness is that it can be hot to wear. It can also be difficult to the right size for an exceptionally small or large kitty.

Is a Cat Harness Better Than a Collar?

For cats, it’s not a matter of a harness being “better than” a collar. Harnesses and collars serve different purposes for cats.

While most dogs can be leashed on a harness or a collar, the same is not true for cats. Cats are more limber and acrobatic than dogs. And, cats have different anatomy than dogs. Their heads and necks are similar in size. A cat’s collar can easily slide off if it tugs on its leash. The hook on a cat’s collar is meant to hang ID tags, not to connect a leash.

Harnesses, on the other hand, are designed to be used with leashes. You’ll notice that the leash hook on a harness is either placed between the cat’s shoulder blades or on its back.

a savannah cat wearing a red harness
Image Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

Can a Cat Wiggle Out of a Harness?

Yes, a cat can escape from a harness if it is too large, broken, or not adjusted properly. Don’t guess at your cat’s measurements when you buy a harness. Measure their body carefully. Always inspect a harness before you put it on your cat.

You can avoid a stressful situation by putting on and taking off your cat’s harness while still indoors. You can also practice walking your cat on a leash indoors until you both get the hang of it.

How Do You Wash a Cat Harness?

When washing a cat harness, it’s best to follow the directions on the label. When in doubt, spot clean your cat harness with a gentle soap and air dry. A clothes dryer may damage a harness’s metal or plastic components.

Final Thoughts on Cat Harnesses

Harnesses are meant to be worn when walking your cat on a leash. Don’t leave a harness on for extended periods, such as overnight. Cat harnesses come in two styles, “H” and “I” loop harnesses and vests.


Featured Image Credit: Amerigo_images, Shutterstock

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