If you are planning on exploring your local hiking trails with your hiking cats, there is one piece of cat hiking gear that is absolutely vital. We’re talking, of course, about the cat hiking harness. While they may not look like much, your cat’s harness will keep him safe, preventing him from bolting if he gets spooked or wandering into a dangerous situation. How do you choose the best harness for your cat? Let’s look at some of the basic factors to consider.
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What Should I Look for When Buying a Cat Harness?
Selecting the right cat harness is the first step in keeping your cat safe while on the trails. But there is one major challenge to consider – not every cat harness will work for every cat. Selecting a great cat harness is as individual as selecting the right hiking boots. You need to find an option that fits your cat comfortably while also offering the security to keep her safe.
“There are so many different styles of harnesses out there these days, it can be tough trying to figure out what kind is best. There are a few different design elements to consider – for example, the coverage, how it goes on and is taken off, and the type of clasps it has,” explained Emily from KittyCatGO.
“Generally speaking, the more coverage a harness has, the more secure it is. I prefer styles that go around my cat’s neck and belly and that also have a piece that goes across their chest. Also, many cats don’t like having things pulled over their head, so you’ll want to check to see how the neckpiece works. And finally, you’ll want to make sure the harness is adjustable. Having a harness that is sized properly and then adjusted to fit snuggly but not too tightly on your cat is vitally important.”
The process of finding the best harness for your hiking cats may involve some trial and error. A harness can look great in the store and come with many recommendations from other cat owners, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be ideal for your cat’s unique needs. Our two cats today use a different harness than I used with my previous cat.
What is the Easiest Cat Harness to Put On?
One important factor to consider when determining how easy a harness will be to put on or take off is to understand your cat’s quirks. Some cats are particularly sensitive about having their paws touched. For these cats, a harness that requires fitting their paws into a designated spot on the harness could be a challenge. They may be more comfortable with a harness that fastens without needing to move their legs. Meanwhile, as Emily pointed out, many cats don’t like having something pulled over their head.
Pay careful attention to where the clasps are, how the harness can be adjusted and what is required for putting it on your cat. If you’re unsure while shopping at your local pet store, don’t be afraid to ask questions. With so many options available, there are solutions for nearly every cat.
Are Any Cat Harnesses Actually Escape-Proof?
The biggest concern for most cat owners when taking an indoor cat outdoors is the risk of their cat escaping the harness. We would love to say that there is a harness that will prevent all escape attempts. Unfortunately, we have never been able to find one.
When asked if an escape-proof harness exists, Emily agreed with us, replying, “No, I don’t think so. Cats are masters of escape. Though there are certainly harnesses that are more escape-proof than others, I don’t think there is any harness that is 100% escape-proof. For every harness, there is a story of a cat who managed to wiggle out.”
This isn’t to say that you should pass on using a cat harness for hiking entirely. It’s still the safest option when taking your cat out into the wilderness. Whether you’re taking a short day trip hiking or heading out for a multi-day backpacking trip sleeping in a tent, a harness is needed. But there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of your cat getting loose. Emily recommended, “The keys to avoiding harness escapes are proper fit and proper training. The better trained your cat is to wear and accept their harness and the more comfortable they are in new environments, the less you have to worry about them trying to escape.”
How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Get Used to a Harness?
The first step in harness training your cat is to introduce the harness. This is best done in a comfortable and familiar place. The best place to let your cat try ou the harness for the first time is at home. Focus your attention in the beginning just on the harness itself, leaving the leash for later. How long will it take for your cat to be comfortable wearing the harness? There is no right answer.
“It truly depends on the cat,” Emily advised. “Some cats take to the harness immediately and don’t require much harness training if any at all, while most others might take days, weeks, or even months. Consistent and proper training is key!”
If your cat resists the harness at first, try offering treats and positive reinforcement as you slowly put the harness on your cat step by step. This will help train your cat to associate the harness with positive experiences. Allow her to tell you how fast or slow to work with her comfort level. When you do get the harness on, allow your cat to wear the harness while going about their usual activities. This could mean feeding your cat while she’s wearing her harness or pulling out her favourite toys to play with.
When your cat is comfortable wearing the harness around the house, you can now introduce the leash. Let her pull it around behind her at first before trying to walk her while holding it. It’s only when your cat can be walked indoors on a leash and harness that she’s ready to then move outdoors.
Best Cat Harness for Hiking
Which harness is the best harness for hiking cats? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, you will need to consider your cat’s preferences and needs. To help you get started in your search for the best harness, we have put together a list of 4 great options. Each harness offers its own unique features and benefits. It’s up to you and your cat to discover which harness will work best for your needs.
RC Pet Products Adventure Kitty Harness
This air-mesh style harness offers the traditional H-harness back and a mesh chest panel for comfort. Both the RC Pets label on the front of the chest panel and the binding around its border are reflective, ensuring that your cat will be visible even if the sun goes down. The RC Pet Products Adventure Kitty Harness is available in 3 different sizes with a fully adjustable neck and waist to make it easy to fit your cat’s body shape.
Voyager Step-In Lock Cat Harness
Another mesh harness design, the Voyageur Step-In Lock Cat Harness is designed with 4 adjustable sliders and a wide rounded neckline that will create a snug fit with the shape of a cat’s body. With buckles both on the waistband and neckband, you can easily put this onto your cat without needing to pull the harness over your cat’s head. It’s available in a wide range of sizes for both dogs and cats.
PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash
Unlike the first 2 harnesses, the PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash has a more minimalistic design. It’s lightweight for cats that may be bothered by wearing too much. It’s available in 3 sizes with adjustable slides on the waistband and a fully adjustable neckband. This is one of the harnesses that we use for both of our cats. We enjoy that it keeps the cats safely contained with no pressure on the throat area as well as the fact that the harness tightens like a dog’s martingale collar if our cats try to pull free.
Kitty Holster Cat Harness
For those that are looking for a more full-coverage option, the Kitty Holster Cat Harness is a great option. This is a harness that is very popular among larger cat breeds due to its wide range of sizes. The harness is made from ultra-lightweight cotton. With no snaps, plastic clips, or thin nylon straps, it’s ideal for cats that are bothered by the feeling or pressure of these items. Instead, it’s a smooth, soft lining that is gentle on even sensitive skin.
Do you have a preferred harness for your hiking cats? We’d love to hear which harnesses you have tried and why you chose the one that you did.