"I don't think I'm going anywhere!" (image)
A cat harness and leash is something you should have on hand in case of emergency. And before an emergency makes it a necessity, you need to train your cat to wear a harness and stay in it.
Why a cat harness?
If you have to vacate your home for any kind of emergency, you should use a harness and leash on your cat as well as your dog (and small pets, like ferrets and rabbits too). Having crates for your pets is essential but, remember, they will be frightened when you rush to get them in and out of their crates. Sensing an emergency, they may try to run away. Cats, especially, may be frightened enough to take off, especially when you've reached a strange destination.
Leashes are mandatory too, of course.
Good News and Bad News
There's good news and bad news about cat harnesses. I'll give you the bad news first:
The bad news is that there is nothing like a determined cat, and if your cat is determined to get out of the best cat harness in the world, she will.
The good news is a) that there are some nearly perfect cat harnesses which are more difficult for your cat to escape from; and b) that you can train your cat to use the harness willingly by associating the harness with positive rewards before you need to use the harness for an emergency.
I will never forget the first time I took my new cat out to the backyard. He was wearing a small dog harness, fastened snuggly around his chest, and a leash. In less than 10 seconds after we closed the house door behind us, my cat was gone. It happened so fast, I don't know how he did it, but he backed out of the harness and ran up the nearest tree, as fast as he could get away.
Maybe I should not have used a harness intended for a dog, but the real problem with what I tried to do was that I didn't train my kitty to wear the harness; he'd never even seen it before.
Buy Your Cat A Dedicated Cat Harness
Most small harnesses are targeted to small dogs and cats, so there are not a lot of dedicated cat harnesses on the market. But a good dedicated cat harness will include specific elements that resist your cat's efforts to get out of them!
You want to make sure that the harness covers most of the cat's body from her neck to her middle or beyond and that the fasteners are secure, but not too tight, around her. A closure in the middle and at the neck help a lot to keep the harness in place.
Before you purchase a cat harness, make sure you read enough customer comments that discuss the fit of the harness, as each manufacturer has different dimensions for small, medium, and large.
I learned my lesson and bought my cat a Kitty Holster Cat Harness, based on the recommendations of other purchasers.
The Kitty Holster comes in several colors and sizes from extra small to extra large. (It's important to measure your cat before you choose a size.)
As you can see, it's nice and snug and that's the way it should be. While cats tend to back out of their harnesses when they are resisting them, the Kitty Holster makes it quite difficult to do that, especially if it's snug. There are two wide strips of Velcroº fastening; one at the neck and one at the middle. There are Kitty Holder fastening instructions on YouTube here.
I like the fact that the leash fastens in the center of the harness, rather than the neck. It seems to give you more control and doesn't put strain on your cat's neck.
Pupteck has two cat harnesses: a holster harness and a strap harness. The Pupteck holster style harness, below, is similar to the Kitty Holster, fastening at the neck and middle. I like the double D-ring that fastens to the leash. By the way, this Pupteck comes with the leash.
Pupteck claims its holster harness is escape-proof and most customers say that their cats have not escaped, but as I said above, there are always some that do, so you should always be on the lookout for signs of 'harness resistance.' (Just think about being outside with your cat when a big dog is coming toward you.) As one customer says about the harness, "It's nice for backyard cruising." I don't want to discourage you from taking a local walk with your cat; just take smaller steps first.
Again, make sure your cat meets the measurements for the Pupteck you choose.
Pupteck also makes a double-strapped cat harness which is adjustable and comes in purple, blue, and back. The advantage of this harness is that both straps are adjustable according to your cat's proportions.
Even though this strap harness doesn't look as secure as the wrap harnesses, it has received high marks from users.
Still another highly-rated cat harness is made by Yizhi Miaow, a brand named after the white cat in the photo below....
Yizhi Miaow Walking Jackets are certainly the snazziest of the cat harnesses I've seen. The pink vest above also comes in blue with white polka dots, as well as camo. The Yizhi Miaow seems to run small, according to customer reviews. Measure well and account for the thickness of your cat's fur. The harness comes with the matching leash, as seen above.
Niteangel makes a respectable cat vest for walking that is not as wide-selling, but is as highly reviewed as the others covered here. It is available in light blue (below), red, and purple.
Niteangel Cat Harnesses look like they are a bit lighter in weight than the others mentioned here, but the style of the harness is similar to them and it's reported to be secure. It comes in purple and light blue. Niteangel also makes a thin strap harness for cats or dogs under 12 pounds that comes in a pack of two reflective harnesses.
Training You Cat To Wear And Walk With A Harness And Leash
The manufacturers of the above cat harnesses offer good instructions on training your cat to wear a harness and how to get him to walk on a leash. The instructions are easy; your cat is not. You have to be very patient. If you want a jump start on instructions, I refer you to Dr Karen Becker's column on Walking Your Cat. If you take your time in training your cat, you will both be happier and your cat will not end up like these guys:
That's the buzz for today!