There's only one correct way to put on a cat harness to your cat (Asking them to sit and stay and then putting on the harness) but that way might take some clicker training.
I've got good news, in this article you are going to learn both, the correct way to put a harness on your cat as well as an easy way to do it while your cat learns to sit and stay.
Why Should We Use a Harness on a Cat?
Cats need physical and mental stimulation to be happy. There are several ways to go about it:
Cats don't have necks as robust as dogs do and walking a cat by the neck can be dangerous for the cat. Also, because cats jump and climb trees, they could get tangled and end up hanging if they were wearing a collar that doesn't break away.
For this reason, when we want to walk a cat on a leash, we need to use a harness to retrain them.
There are so many other mistakes people make when walking a cat on a leash, but that's a topic for another day.
How to Choose the Best Harness for a Cat
Choosing the best harness for your cat is almost as important as harness training them.
There are 5 things to look for on a cat harness:
- Escape Proof: We leash our cats to keep them restrained
- Safety: We want the harness to be gentle on our cats
- Easy to Put On: We want to minimize the stress of putting on the harness
- Comfort: We walk our cats to enrich their lives, harness should not be limiting
- Durable: The harness should resist wear and tear and adjust as the cat grows
Also, many times of cat harnesses are available in the market:
- String Cat Harness (H Shape)
- String Cat Harnesses (8 Shape)
- Vest or Full Body Cat Harness
- Step in Cat Harnesses
I have a whole article talking about the best cat harnesses, but for the purpose of this tutorial, I'll use the harness that Mia wears as an example:
How to Measure Cat for Harness
Choosing the right size is almost as important as choosing the right cat harness. Most cat harnesses will have adjustable neck straps but the truth is that most cats have a similar neck girth.
The main limiting factor when choosing the size of your harness will be the chest diameter.
There are 2 ways to measure your cat's chest girth:
- Use a cloth measure tape or get one online for a couple $
- Use a cord and then measure the cord with a regular measuring tape
The area of your cat to measure to know what harness size they need is shown in the diagram below:
How to Put a Harness on a Cat
Cat harness training can be taught in a few days. It can be made as complex or as simple as we want, but in summary, it all goes down to these three things:
- Getting the cat used to the harness
- Putting the harness on
- Helping them forget they are wearing the harness
The most crucial point, the one in which we can startle the cat and make things go sideways is the second one, putting the harness on the cat. In my opinion, there's really only good way to put a harness on a cat:
- You ask your cat to sit
- You ask your cat to wait in that position
- You put the harness
- You reward your cat for their patience
The only problem with this system is that you need to have a cat that has done some obedience training and has worked with a clicker or positive reinforcement.
So we are going to review what other ways are there to do so:
Putting a Cat Harness for the First Time
When we receive a cat harness, the first thing we need to do is to allow our cat to smell and impregnate the harness with its pheromones.
Cats use pheromones to mark safe surfaces and spaces and a cat harness that smells like Amazon.com will just not make it.
Once your cat has had the chance to get familiarized, if your cat is not trained, you can grab your cat and squeeze them between your ribcage and your elbow. restricting their movement.
Then, you can use your hands to manipulate the harness and put it on.
If your cat resists this procedure, instead of fighting with your cat, use some food or treats to distract your cat and put on the harness while they are eating.
How to Put a Harness on a Trained Cat
If your cat knows some clicker training then your chances of success are greater.
As your cat to sit and stay. Once they are waiting in the position, put on the harness or help your cat step on the harness.
Once your cat is wearing the harness, reward generously.
Cat Paralyzed by The Harness
Some cats will suffer from harness paralysis when they first wear a harness. This is because they feel the harness restricting their movement.
There are a few things you should do if this is your cat's case:
- Try to use play and food to distract your cat from it
- Loosen the harness a little (only indoors)
- Try it again couple of times a week
- Keep sessions short and sweet and reward afterward
Infographic or Diagram to Put a Cat Harness
If you are like me and need some visual help, you can download the instructions for the OutdoorBengal Cat Harness here.
Video of How to Put a Harness on a Cat
Now that you know how to put on a cat harness, make sure you don't make these mistakes when walking your cat on a leash.
Stay Wild, Stay Safe and... I'll see you outdoors!
Albert & Mia