Cat walking may be a new concept, but the market has adapted quickly, and there is now a wide variety of harnesses to choose from! On top of that, cats can also use most dog harnesses designed for small dogs, although some may not fit as well.
Over the past four years, I’ve gone through and tested over 10 cat harnesses, and I finally have two favourites, and these are the only two I am using at the moment. I use the overall best harness on a daily basis, and then the minimal harness in some specific situations. Keep reading to find out more!
Best Overall: RC Pets Moto Control Harness
The RC Pets Moto Control Harness (size XS) is the best in my opinion. It was designed for dogs, but also fits cats really well. In fact, RC Pets make a similar styled Adventure Kitty Harness, but the Moto Harness works better than the cat version in my experience.
The most important feature of this harness is the chest piece, which distributes any pulling force from the leash, and keeps the pulling off the cat’s neck, which is much more fragile than a dog’s. The reason why cats should always be on a harness and leash, and not a collar and leash, is because of their thin necks. Therefore, a large chest piece will really help keep their neck’s safe, unlike the strappy H harnesses. H Harnesses do have their usefulness, such as harness training, and when you want something minimal like doing water sports (more on this later), but for general use I would advise to stay away from H harnesses.
But a lot of harnesses have a chest piece, you might be thinking. That’s true, but the shape of this Moto Harness fits a cat’s body especially well. It’s thin enough on the torso to not cut into their armpits, and slightly curved on the neck area so it doesn’t cut into their necks. In fact, those two reasons are why I dislike the RC Pet’s Adventure Kitty Harness.
Now lets move onto the back of the harness. I find that harnesses that cover a large area of the back tend to make my cat slouch when walking, so I prefer to find a more minimal backing. This harness has only a strap along the back, which works very well. You’ll also see that the under arm straps are connected with a buckle on either side. These buckles are located on the side of the cat, where their bodies are more flat, and therefore the buckles lay flat. Compacted to the RC Pets Adventure Kitty harness, where the buckles are located closer to their chest, where the body is round, and the buckles don’t seem comfortable at all.
The back strap of this harness also has a second loop which forms a sort of handle. This loop has been very helpful in attaching this harness to the seatbelt via a large carabiner, which may not fit in the smaller metal rings meant for a leash. The handle strap also allows me to hold onto the harness for more control of the cat, and this has been very useful many times.
You’ll also notice that there are two metal rings for leash attachments. Having two leash attachment points is useful especially in the winter, when the leash hole in the jackets are not always in a convenient location. I tend to use the upper ring for his ID tag, and the lower ring for his leash. Using the lower ring for the leash allows any pulling to be applied to his chest instead of the neck area.
Best Minimal Harness: RC Pets Primary Kitty Harness
For a more minimal harness, I’ve found that the RC Pets Primary Kitty Harness (Size M) works best. There are many similar styled H harnesses and they should all function similarly. I just don’t happen to own any of them, which is why I am recommending this one. A more minimal harness is useful in situations such as: going to the vet, long car rides, visiting a friend’s home, or doing water sports. These are times when you want something more comfortable, so there is not much material on the cat, but they can still be leashed when needed.
Another time when you want a minimal harness is for harness training. Cats who are not used to the feeling of a harness will adapt better when there is less material touching their skin.
This H style harness, means that there are two loops at the neck and chest, connected by another strap running along the cat’s back. This style of harness is NOT suitable for cats who pull on the leash – in fact, this harness will choke and hurt your cat’s neck. This type of harness is only marginally better than a collar in terms of force applied to their neck, in my opinion. When I use this harness I make sure to never pull on the leash too hard.
Although I don’t think a H harness is very practical for most cat adventures, it is a useful piece of gear to have. I keep a H harness in my car as a back up harness, and it doesn’t take up much space.
I’ve shared my two favourite cat harnesses, but please remember that every cat is different. Just because they work the best for Teddy, they may be the best for your cat! It’s important to try out a few styles and see which one you like.