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Best cat harness 2023: Keep kitty safe on outdoor adventures

Does your cat love to explore? The best cat harnesses deliver a secure and comfortable way to take your cat for strolls

In the UK, the vast majority of cats go outside on their own to wander round gardens and fields. But what if you live near a busy road or have a cat with health conditions that can’t go out unsupervised? You might even have a breed of cat that’s known for its desire to explore further afield. Being outside is enriching for the majority of cats, allowing them to explore their territories, and introducing your cat to new sights and smells can improve their quality of life – plus it helps them to burn off some excess energy.

Introducing a cat to a harness isn’t quite as simple as a collar and lead on dogs. As those of us who own a cat know, felines aren’t renowned for their amenable acceptance of new things. So, while taking your cat for a walk can work wonders for their waistline and help prevent boredom, you should never try to force a cat to use a harness. This may cause stress for a cat – and result in injury for you!

Below you’ll find our recommendations of the best cat harnesses currently on the market, but first read our handy buying guide to hopefully answer your questions on how to best go about choosing the perfect harness for your feline friend.

Best cat harnesses: At a glance

How to choose the best cat harness for you

What sort of harness should I choose for my cat?

You might think that you can just buy a collar and lead for your cat that’s a smaller version of the type worn by dogs. However, this isn’t a great option for a feline. A collar and lead puts a lot of strain on a cat’s neck. In addition, your cat could easily slip its head out of a collar, which could be a disaster when you’re out and about.

For safety and comfort, you’re better opting for a full harness that fits around your cat’s body, and there are two main types available. An H-style harness (so named because the pieces of the harness form a letter “H” on a cat’s back) is often preferred by cats, since there’s less material in contact with their bodies; but these aren’t as secure as vest-style harnesses. The latter is like a fitted coat that wraps right around the cat’s body, and doesn’t create pressure points in specific areas, so won’t rub or dig into your cat’s back or belly. Regardless of which of the two styles you prefer, your choice may well depend on which style of harness your cat is prepared to tolerate!

You should also consider your cat’s personality when making your choice of cat harness. If your feline is super-confident then an H-style harness may be enough for them. But if they’re nervous or prone to wriggling then a vest-style option will prove more secure. You can also buy escape-proof harnesses – although do note that nothing can be guaranteed as be so when it comes to cats. Always test a harness indoors first, and make sure you measure your cat and follow the size guide to achieve the best fit possible.

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How do I train my cat to use a harness?

First and foremost: don’t rush things with your cat. You can repeat these steps as often as needed.

Place the harness in your bed for a couple of days to give it a familiar smell or, if you don’t fancy sleeping with it, rub a cloth round your cat’s cheeks and transfer their scent onto the harness. The key is to ensure that it doesn’t smell of packaging or a shop.

Place your cat’s favourite treats on the floor in front of your cat. While they’re eating, position the harness on their back. Do not attempt to do it up at this point; just get your cat used to having it on. If this freaks out your cat, hold the harness up so the cat can see it and feed them treats through the harness. You want them to associate it with good things.

Once your cat is relaxed with the harness on its back, try doing up the straps. Start with the neck, then add the chest. If the harness has a buckle around the neck, do this up last. Take the harness straight off if your cat shows signs of discomfort or is struggling to get out of it. You can try again on another day.

When your cat is comfortable with the harness on, let them walk around indoors with it on; here, you can also check that they can’t wriggle out of it.

Finally, when your cat is comfortable with the harness, you can attach the lead and carry them outside. The hope is that all the new sights and smells will distract them from the fact they’re wearing a harness.

Be aware that some cats may never get used to a harness. Don’t judge your cat or yourself too harshly if this is the case.

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The best cat harnesses you can buy in 2023

1. Kitty Holster Cat Harness: Best cat harness for choice of sizes available

Price: £33 | Buy now from Amazon

The Kitty Holster Cat Harness is available in a range of sizes from XS-XL, making it easy to find the right fit for your cat. This in turn also makes it a more secure harness. You get a range of fabrics in different colours and patterns to choose from, from sleek black through to a butterfly camo, so you can find the perfect match for your cat’s character.

This is a vest-style harness with no fiddly straps or clips to do up. Instead, the harness simply wraps around your cat’s body and is fastened at the chin and tummy with Velcro. Since the Velcro doesn’t offer the adjustability of straps, it’s important you follow the size guide closely to ensure a secure and comfortable fit for your cat. However, once you’ve got your cat in the harness, it’s extremely secure and very difficult for a cat to escape. Made from 100% cotton, it will be comfortable for cats to wear – although be careful that long-haired cats don’t get their fur caught in the Velcro. Note, too, that a lead isn’t included, so you’ll have to buy that separately.

Key details – Material: 100% cotton; Sizes: XS, S/M, M/L, XL; Weight: 68g

2. Rabbitgoo Cat Kitten Harness: Best cat harness for kittens

Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

Of course, you can try to train a cat of any age to use a harness, but starting off when they’re a kitten is likely to be easier. Remember, though: you mustn’t take a kitten outside until it’s had all the necessary vaccinations to keep it safe and it’s been neutered (kittens can be sexually active from 4 months up). You’ll also need to ensure your kitten is large enough to remain in the harness – your kitten’s head needs to be at least 25cm in circumference and the neck girth must be at least 22cm.

This vest-style harness is made from breathable mesh to prevent rubbing or pressure points building up. There are also four adjustable straps to ensure a good fit, plus both sides of the harness have a safety buckle to prevent escape. The rabbitgoo also comes with a long lead that attaches to the back of the harness with a metal clip. We’d have liked to have seen a clip around the neck part of the harness for added security; but, this is a great first harness for kittens and smaller cats.

Key details – Material: Nylon; Sizes: XS, S; Weight: 120g

3. Pets at Home Reflective Cat Harness: Best cat harness for winter

Price: £9 | Buy now from Pets at Home

When the days become shorter, and it gets darker early, you could be out for a stroll with your cat and be caught out. As such, a reflective harness is a great idea to ensure your feline can still be safely seen – and we’d recommend this H-style harness for more confident cats, since it isn’t quite as secure as a vest-style model.

Once fitted onto your cat, this harness is easy to adjust; but the plastic clips are a little stiff to use. However, this also means the harness is secure; there’s no danger of the clips coming undone. A lead is included in the price, making it great value for money.

The neon colouring of the harness and lead offer high visibility, plus the fabric is reflective and will show up in lights – which is important if you’re walking next to a road. The harness is designed to fit chest sizes of 25-43cm, so make sure this is suitable for your cat before purchasing.

Key details – Material: Nylon; Sizes: Chest sizes of 25-43cm; Weight: N/A

Buy now from Pets at Home

4. BINGPET Escape Proof Cat Harness: Best cat harness for escape artists

Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

If your cat is a bit of an escape artist, the BINGPET harness is an excellent choice. Of course, no harness can be 100% escape-proof, but it will prove pretty tough for your cat to wriggle out of this one. Like the Kitty Holster, this model has two Velcro fasteners, but the BINGPET also has a clip at the neck for added security.

Available in sizes S-XL, there’s also a range of colours and patterns to choose from (including a rather bright strawberry print!). The lead is attached via two heavyweight D-rings, forming one of the most secure fittings we’ve seen. Do measure your cat correctly according to the instructions, to ensure you achieve the best fit.

There aren’t many downsides to this harness, but the sound of the Velcro could scare nervous cats. The harness is padded, though, which reduces noise and makes the harness more comfortable for your cat to wear.

Key details – Material: Plastic; Sizes: S, M, L; Weight: 120g

5. Coastal Pet Comfort Cat Harness: Best cat harness for felines with fluctuating waistlines

Price: £23 | Buy now from OnBuy

The Coastal Pet Comfort harness is designed to be soft next to your cat’s skin, forming no pressure points while it’s worn. A vest-style harness, pressure is distributed across the chest and shoulders, away from the neck.

The harness is available in four different colours, but only one size. However, it offers the most adjustability out of all the options on this list. Although suitable only for cats up to 12lbs / 5.4kg, you can make adjustments both around the neck and the girth. The neck expands from 8 to 10in and the girth from 14 to 16in. This could be a very useful option if you have a cat whose weight fluctuates.

It’s super lightweight, but some cats may be put off by the fact that it has to go on over the head.

Key details – Material: Nylon; Sizes: Cats up to 12lbs, neck 8-10in, girth 14-16in; Weight: 27g

Buy now from OnBuy

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