What kind of harness does your cat need?

hiking cat by river
Waffles the cat explores Colorado by leash. (Photo: Karen Nguyen)

Selecting the purrfect harness is an important part of equipping your adventure cat for the great outdoors. A well-fitting harness will keep your kitty safe and comfortable when walking, hiking and participating in other outdoor recreation on a leash.

Harnesses are particularly important because it’s generally considered unsafe to attach a leash directly to a cat’s collar. Unlike dogs, cats have soft throats and can choke if walked this way.

But with so many harnesses to choose from, how can you select the right one?

The first step is understanding the two basic styles on the market: leads, which comprise a few straps attached to a leash, and vests, which are like little pieces of clothing for cats.

A standard lead fits around the cat’s neck and back to evenly distribute pressure. Similar to dog harnesses, these come in varying sizes for adult cats and kittens.

The ASPCA recommends the Come With Me Kitty Harness & Bungee Leash which is available in a number of colors and three sizes. The bungee provides give for boisterous cats, and best of all, the harness and leash combo is available on many websites for under $10.

Harnessed cat walks

Laura Moss, Adventure Cats’ co-founder, said one her cats slipped out of a lead while training in the yard, which is why she opted for a Kitty Holster walking vest (pictured below) one of two brands that cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy recommended to The New York Times.

Walking vests — also known as walking jackets or holsters — provide more coverage and pressure distribution than leads, and they can be a good choice for cats who pull a lot during walks or for flexible felines who can wriggle out of a lead and scamper away.

Galaxy, who’s also the host of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” is a proponent of harness-training cats, particularly those who spend much of their time indoors.

“I believe very much in the concept of the raw cat,” Galaxy says. “I believe that cats should stay true to their nature, and we can get them to do things that may be a compromise. So leash walking is a perfectly good compromise because it gets them out there.”

cat wearing walking jacket and leash

On his website, Galaxy recommends the Crazy K Farm Kitty Holster Cat Harness. The holster comes in four sizes and five patterns, guaranteeing that your furry friend will be both fashionable and comfortable.

Kitty Holster harnesses are made with easy-to-secure Velcro, which makes outfitting your cat simple. However, cats who are sensitive to the sound of Velcro may be uncomfortable in this type of harness. It can also be challenging to keep long-haired cats’ fur from getting caught.

In that case, pet caretakers may want to explore vest that secure with snaps, such as the SturdiPet Walking Vest. This is a less expensive option than the Kitty Holster, but it comes in fewer sizes.

Adventure cat Yuki (pictured below) wears a Puppia harness, and her human, Nathalia Valderrama Méndez says it’s the only harness she’s ever used.

“We think it’s perfect for her being such an active kitty as it doesn’t restrict any movement,” she told Adventure Cats. “It’s also nice because it’s a soft mesh material that doesn’t suffocate nor overheat her when hot. We did thorough research on harnesses for cats before purchasing and we’re really happy with it. We’d definitely recommend this harness.”

Yuki the cat in Puppia harness

Jesperpus, an adventure cat in Norway, also rocks a Puppia harness, and Moss says she recently purchased one for her cat.

“It may be meant for small dogs, but I really like this Puppia harness,” she told Adventure Cats. “It fits snugly, and my cat Sirius walked normally with it on — which hasn’t always been the case with other harnesses he’s tried. The only downside is that my other cat, Fiver, doesn’t care for having to put his head through the harness to get it on so I’m keeping him in the Kitty Holster.”

Puppia harnesses are available in several styles, with a variety of colors, sizes, patterns and fasteners. The Bandit style even comes with an adorable attached hood for an extra dose of cattitude.

However, while Puppia makes harnesses especially for cats, many of the cat owners we’ve spoken to have actually purchased the same soft harness Méndez and Moss and referenced, which are marketed for dogs and sold in AdventureCats’ store. Given the difficulty of finding a good selection of cat harnesses in pet stores, many other pet owners have also turned to the dog aisle.

“We actually use dog harnesses for Shade,” said Alyse-Beth Avery. “Grreat Choice has been an easy pick — inexpensive and the sizes we have purchased fit Shade just right.”

However, keep in mind that not all dog harnesses will fit a cat properly.

Regardless of which harness style you choose, fit is the most important factor, both in terms of preventing escape and making sure your cat is comfortable. According to veterinary website Drs. Foster and Smith, measuring your cat for a harness is simple: “Take your cat’s girth measurement snug against her fur, and then add 2 inches to 3 inches to that measurement for comfort.”

You want the harness to be snug, but not too tight. As a general rule, you should be able to fit a finger or two — but not more than that — under the harness.

Once you’ve selected the right harness, you can begin to train your cat to join you on all sorts of outdoor adventures. A little patience and some treats are key to helping your feline friend join the ranks of Adventure Cats.

Before you take your cat outside, please familiarize yourself with these adventuring best practices.


There are numerous types of leads and vests on the market. Before purchasing one for your pet, read product reviews. Also make sure the product you purchase is a good fit for your cat and test it indoors before taking your adventure cat into the great outdoors. Love your kitty’s harness? Let us know in the comments.

Inset photos: (cat on lead) Wikimedia Commons, (cat in walking vest) Cody Wellons, (Yuki in Puppia harness) Nathalia Valderrama Méndez

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Jan
Jan

I wish you or someone would provide a pattern for making our own vests.

AdventureCats
AdventureCats

We’ll look into that!

Trixieplum

I have a three-legged cat (missing a front leg), and I’d love to take her out in the yard. Are you aware of any harnesses made for feline amputees, or is there an easy way to alter any of the available harnesses listed above? Thanks!

AdventureCats
AdventureCats

That is a wonderful idea for a story. We’ll definitely look into it. Thanks for the suggestion!

daeartine
daeartine

I second this question! I recently adopted a front tripod kitty, and she’s wants very much to go outside a bit.

Jef
Jef

Anyone find anything? We also have a front-leg-amputee kitten and would love to harness train her.

Kelle B
Kelle B

On the kitty holder website it states that if you have a kitty with any missing legs or special requests to contact them directly. The phone number is on the website They will be happy to personalize something to work for you and your cat!

Kelle B
Kelle B

Contact the kitty holster company directly. They will personalize something for your furry friend :).

Lynda Robinson
Lynda Robinson

I have a three legged cat as well. His front right leg had to be amputated. He has always gone outside with me on leash and harness, but now I’m worried he can wiggle out of harness. We haven’t been out walking over the winter and are waiting for spring. Is there a harness or do you have an idea how to modify one for my cat?

Kelle B
Kelle B

Contact the kitty holster company directly. They are able to personalize something for your furry friend 🙂

Kelle B
Kelle B

Contact the kitty holster company directly. They will personalize something for your furry friend 🙂

Jan
Jan

I found a lovely mesh harness at Target in the dog section, called Boots & Barkley, reflective small adjustable pet harness. Only $11, what a great price! I tried them on the cats, looks like they are going to do just fine. That’ll save me a lot of time trying to make one because I’m not willing to pay $45 for something like this.

AdventureCats
AdventureCats

Please let us know how that works out!

Jan
Jan

No, I have to take them back. They are too big around the neck, which I could have fixed, but it’s basically too heavy.

Jan
Jan

New thought, I may take the Come with me Kitty harness and add the target “vest” to it…… that would lighten it up. I’m trying to make this work…….

Jan
Jan

Also I wanted to say, I originally purchased the Come with me Kitty Harness and leash. My cat got out of the harness. It’s not safe.

Laura Moss
Laura Moss

I had the same experience with that one! I really like the Kitty Holster and the small Puppia dog harnesses.

Atlanta Girl
Atlanta Girl

I would add that whatever harness you choose, make sure it is brightly colored in case kitty takes off.

I took a spill several years ago and my cat took off. First, his harness came off (luxurious fur!) I found him, but since then, I always have a bright shirt /jacket under the harness (with my phone number on it). Makes.him a little easier to locate in case we get separated again. I also put wavy lines of silicone caulk on underside of shirt to provide extra “traction”.

Dough Nut
Dough Nut

Is there a difference between the leashes? Also, do you have an article on what do do if a leashed or unleashed dog approchaches?

Dough Nut
Dough Nut

– Is there a difference between the leashes?
– What do I do if a leashed or unleashed dog approchaches?

Julie Deleemans
Julie Deleemans

I’d like to get a harness for my cat to take him out places with me (eg. Hiking while I carry him in a backpack, etc). However, he only has 3 legs (the front right was amputated at the shoulder as a kitten due to injury). Any suggestions for best harnesses to try? Thanks! 🙂

Lori Greer
Lori Greer

Disappointing that the Hyendry brand walking jackets aren’t listed in your article. Custom made for cats with either standard velcro or with the extra “double-lock” buckles. Not a restricting full body cover like the Kitty Holster, far more secure than the nylon web types, and designed for a better fit than the Puppia brand.

hugsandasmile
hugsandasmile

Lori, I did a Google search on Hyendry brand cat harness and nothing came up. Do you know if they can be purchased on-line?

Lori Greer
Lori Greer

really? That is strange! The website is http://www.hyendry.com 🙂

hugsandasmile
hugsandasmile

Thanks Lori, I ordered one. I hope it comes soon so we can start the process. 🙂

Klark Jaxon
Klark Jaxon

First, I wanted to say I LOVE your website, it’s really cool that someone’s spreading the word that cats can be just as awesome and adventurous as dogs! I also think in your next harness article should make mention of kittens, as I’m sure you know, the easiest way to get a cat to enjoy a harness is to start them young. I’m not sure that the Puppia line makes one small enough for very young ones, but I found one at a local store that fits great! An added bonus is that the way it’s made, the neck portion… Read more »

Mid
Mid

When can you start training to be on a harness? My kitten is about 5 weeks old.

Yuki Fuyui
Yuki Fuyui

Better start drilling it into the cat right at the beginning, at first they will refuse and you have to drag them around, practise indoor, and give her/him a treat afterwards usually help and/or praise them when they actually start walking with you on the leash.

Dawn Shannon
Dawn Shannon

Hello! I have been working with my adventure cat named Luna. I first started with the Come with Me Kitty Harness. It has worked well, but she did get out of it one time. That made me nervous, so I decided to try some different harnesses. I found a $5 Step In harness for a small dog at Walmart. I like this design because it doesn’t put pressure around her neck. I still feel like she is secure and comfortable. Now I want to be clear that I did not get the harness because it was $5. I got this… Read more »

Dawn Shannon
Dawn Shannon

Also, for those of you just beginning, remember to be patient. The training process takes time and consistency. You can’t just take your kitty out on the trail and expect them to walk next to you for multiple miles. Start small then slowly work your way up to the activities you’d like to do with your feline friend.

Also, if you take a month long break between adventures/excursions then your cat may digress with their comfort level. Be consistent and patient and most of all, love your kitty! Happy adventures!

Megan Richardson
Megan Richardson

Be warned not to let your cat eat grass while out. It likely has pesticides on it, which will give cats bladder cancer.

Yuki Fuyui
Yuki Fuyui

Which thankfully is not legal to use on your lawn here in Europe duo to health concerns.

Aliénor Barnes-Short
Aliénor Barnes-Short

What harness would you recommend for a long haired cat?