How to put on & adjust a harness for walking cats

Cats are not little dogs. This may be an obvious statement, but it's a good reminder when planning to fit a harness on a cat as it takes time and patience to fit the harness correctly. Training a cat to walk on a leash with a halter is one way to allow your cat to enjoy the outdoors in safety. Sizing the harness correctly protects your cat. If the harness is too loose, the cat may wriggle out. But a harness that is too tight it may injure the cat.

Measure your cat's neck and waist. Do not pull the tape measure tight.

Purchase a harness that accommodates the neck and waist measurements. Harnesses come in a variety of sizes and materials - choose a lightweight harness. Large cats may require a small dog harness.

Close the clasps on the harness, and measure the neck and waist belts. A sliding buckle loosens or tightens the belts. Slide the buckle until the neck and waist belts match your measurements.

Introduce the harness to your cat slowly. For the first day or two, simply lay the halter next to the cat's feeding dish while it eats. Allow the cat to sniff and explore the harness. After a few days, hold the harness in front of the cat's face and give the cat a treat. After the cat learns to associate the halter with treats, lay the harness on the cat's back, but do not latch it. Play with the cat and the halter.

Place the cat's foreleg into the halter, and press the neck and waist clasps together. Play with the cat while it becomes accustomed to the feel of the halter. During play, stick two fingers into the neck and waist belts of the harness. Two fingers should easily slip between the cat and the harness to ensure it fits properly. If the belt is too tight, or too loose , remove the harness.

Slide the adjusting buckle to tighten or loosen the ill-fitting belt. If the cat is still curious and playful, try the harness on again. If the cat is unreceptive, wait a day before trying the harness again. Repeat Step 5 until you can slip only two fingers between the harness and the cat.


After your cat harness fits, give your cat a couple of days wearing it during play to get used to the feel and weight of the harness. Clip a light leash to the harness and let the cat play with the leash attached. Try walking your cat in an enclosed area such as a back yard, before taking your cat on the sidewalk.


Never force the harness on the cat. When the cat shows fear or aversion to the harness, give the cat a treat near the harness.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Cat treats
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About the Author

Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.