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How to Put a Cat Harness On: 5 Vet-Approved Tips & Advice

Jana Blagojevic

By Jana Blagojevic

putting cat harness on a cat

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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While domesticated cats have learned how to live with humans in harmony and accept and adapt to our lifestyles, they still have some wildness in their souls. While we may understand that putting a harness and leash on a cat is for their good, our little furry companions will often have zero tolerance for the idea. Nevertheless, if you live in an apartment building or a home with a smaller and more insecure backyard, you will need to take your cats on walks using a harness.

As you may expect, this endeavor will be challenging to master, so read the article here, and find out how exactly you can place a harness on your cat without any stress or force.

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Before You Begin

Before you learn how to put a harness on your cat, choose the perfect harness style to fit your particular needs. No matter which type of harness you choose, you must let your cat get acquainted with it and slowly get used to the feeling. Some harnesses are more suitable for younger cats and those only starting to learn the use of this new device. Depending on the size of your cat and your taste, there are several styles of harnesses to choose from.

  • H-style Harness: An H-style harness creates a letter H when laid flat on the floor. They provide very light and comfortable support, which is why most cats can handle them. These harnesses are a perfect choice for kittens that still need some getting used to harnesses. They cover a minimal surface area, being much less uncomfortable for cats, allowing them to get used to the feeling gradually.
  • Figure-Eight Style Harness: The figure-eight harness type is made from several straps that together form the shape of the number 8. It is easily adjustable and won’t cause discomfort to your cat. Figure-eight harnesses and H-style harnesses are easy to escape from, so they may not be the best choice for older, more stubborn cats.
  • Jacket harnesses: This type of harness is also called the butterfly harness because of the unique shape it has when lying flat on the floor. It provides you with more control, as it supports a larger portion of the cat’s body, not allowing it to wiggle out easily.
  • Vest harnesses: Vest harnesses are an ideal option for very active cats that make sudden movements or are trying to wiggle out. These vests are usually made from mesh material, making them comfortable even during hotter days. They are secured with Velcro or buckles, and they typically need to be slipped over the cat’s head, which they are not fond of.

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The 5 Expert Tip to Put a Cat Harness On

1. Choose an Ideal Harness for Your Cat

Your first and most crucial step would be to choose the perfect harness for your cat. If you manage to do this step correctly, you will ensure a positive experience for your cat from the very start. When your cat is still a kitten, it is wiser to start with a lightweight harness that won’t bother the kitten as much and will let them get used to the feeling. These harnesses are much less supportive, and for adult cats, they are easy to wiggle out of. That’s why adult cats should wear harnesses that provide better coverage and more support.

If you’re searching for the perfect harness for your cat, we recommend our Cat Harness & Leash Set. The lightweight velvet and mesh harness features multiple adjustment points, quick-release buckles, and reflective stripes to keep your cat safe. Plus, it comes in five sizes to fit any cat and even includes a premium rope leash! 

Hepper Cat Harness and Leash Escape Proof Set -...
  • Escape Proof - Cat leashes and harnesses for walking aren't all equally secure. Our double aluminium...
  • Superior Comfort - Our cat harnesses are lightweight, made with premium velvet fabric, breathable...

2. Let Your Cat Get Used to the New Harness

Once you pick out the ideal harness, it is time to introduce it to your cat. Small steps will do the trick, such as letting your cat adjust to the existence of the harness at first. Let your cat sniff the mysterious item and find out that it doesn’t pose a threat to them. When your cat exhibits intrigue toward this item, reward them with treats to associate the harness with positive experiences. Try putting it near their food or water bowls, and then after a few days, if the cat is undisturbed by the harness, you can proceed to the next step.


3. Place the Harness on the Cat’s Head

Before putting the harness on the cat for the first time, try gently putting it on their back and rewarding them immediately. Reward them each time they allow the harness to sit on their back. Do this repeatedly until your cat gets used to this new and unfamiliar feeling without fear.

Then you can try putting one loop through the cat’s head. This is best done by holding up treats and allowing the cat to poke their head through the loop on their own. Do this step several times until your cat learns they need to put their head through the loop without you doing it forcefully.

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

4. Let Your Cat Wear the Harness Indoors

Let your cat get used to the feeling of a harness alone without being attached to the leash. Clip the entire harness on the cat, and let it stay on for a few seconds. Reward the cat only when the harness is on and they are calm. Once your cat is comfortable with the feeling of a harness placed on them, you can go one step further and try walking them indoors. Your cat may try to wiggle around, so being patient and rewarding your cat with each new progress is crucial.


5. Slowly Transition to Wearing the Harness Outdoors

Once your cat is entirely used to the feeling of a harness and walking on a leash indoors, you can finally try this new habit outdoors. This will be the next significant change, so bring plenty of treats. Hold the leash securely in case anything scares your cat and they try to run away. It will take some getting used to the feeling of a leash, but patience and persistence will take you there in no time.

Lady walking cat with harness
Image Credit: Amerigo_images, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

After learning how to put a harness on your cat properly, you will provide your cat with a safe and positive experience. You won’t have to force your cat into liking this strange device and will instead have them enjoy walks while staying entirely safe. Learning the proper steps will ensure that you are able to teach your cat quickly and easily.


Featured Image Credit: Sergio Canovas, Shutterstock

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