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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys!

We're thinking of harness training Wicket and Atlas for a couple of reasons. The first is that Wicket was outdoors for a long time and seems to miss it, but we don't live in an area that would be safe for him to be outdoors on his own.

The second is that we're definitely going to have to travel with them in the future --possibly all the way across the country (a 7 + day drive) and would like to be able to have them out of their crates at least part of the time, in hotels or friends houses, or open doors at gas stations without worrying about them escaping with no way to grab them again. We thought harness training might be the best way to allow them some stretch room and keep them safe on these trips, especially since Wicket *hates* his crate and cries nonstop in it when we take him anywhere. On a short trip that might be bearable but I think a week of 12-14 hrs a day in a crate would be hard on both of them.

Does anyone have experience harness training cats? I think it'll be easier with Atlas just because he already trusts us to look after him, and tends to run TO us rather than away, but how to start?

Also, how to pick a good harness? Not sure what we should be looking for in terms of fit and sizing....

Should we start by having them wear the harnesses around the house a little bit each day until they're comfortable with them, then attach the leash and repeat in small doses? I thought that, progressing to time on the front porch, then time sitting in the car when it's not running, then short trips might be the best.

Tips and stories would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Cassie was too fat for a harness so we used a collar, but that wouldn't be the best idea since they have delicate necks(I never pulled her, it was just for safety).

Cherry doesn't like the harness. When I put it on her, she flops right over. But when we're outside(I only take her on the deck, which has since been escape proofed) she doesn't roll around. But she walked like it was pushing on her back. And I didn't like the harness at all. I wasn't sure I had it on right and it didn't have a strap going right down her belly(it just went around her neck and her belly). So I wouldn't recommend that kind.

But I would recommend measuring your cats first! We bought Cassie's harness only to find out that it didn't fit!
 

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Both of my cats are harness trained & don't really go outside unless they are with us on the porch or being held. They do however travel with harness and leash in the car.
In my experience coastal pet makes an excellent dog harness that is the full H shape - picture a collar a second loop around the stomache.chest behind the shoulders and then a strap connecting both loop on the back with a second on the stomache. Be careful to check each harness thouroughly before you buy: some are top only stap to loop and some have sort of a funky 'no pull' feature for dogs that make them easier for a cat to wiggle out of. Pet stores that allow returns are best, buy the 2 closest sizes and trial them at home.

When I travel for any length of time with the cats I set up a midwest type small wire crate with a hammock in the top half and litter box in the bottom, both cats will spend some time in the crate other times on laps and still others in their standard crates. My sister insists her cats would come unglued in a similar situation but mine actually seem to enjoy outings and periodically go with to the pet store with the kids and I to 'pick out their own toys'.
 

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2 of my cats are harness trained. Egypt loves to go outside on sunny days and explore. Cats don't walk around like dogs. You follow them around and make sure they don't get into trouble, but in reality, they are walking YOU. The key is to get them used to wearing the harness when they are at home and relaxed. At first, they may freak out, but as with anything else, they will try to get it off for some time, and then eventually get used to it. When they are used to the harness, you can then attach the leash and have them walk around in the house with you holding the leash. Be patient, don't rush the cat. The point is to get them used to it without stressing them out. Once they get used to this, then you can take them outside one at a time, unless there will be another person with the other cat. Trust me, taking 2 cats with just you outside on leashes, does not work well at all.

My third cat HATES going outside. The harness is not the issue. She just prefers to stay at home and watch the others from the window. Some cats are just not meant to go outside. Keep this in mind and don't push the issue if your cat(s) do not take to it after giving it a fair try.

Good luck!
 

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I successfully trained an older cat to the harness/leash. We had many, many pleasant walks. I agree completely with dreamgoil, particularly being patient, and being sure they are comfortable inside before going out.

Also, please do not consider getting a dog harness, as Nora said, cats are built completey different than cats, and cats can easily slip a dog harness.

As my cat aged & put on weight, I couldn't find a cat harness large enough, so I cut a piece from a similar leash & sewed it securely, by machine, to extend the size. Worked well. We had many more pleasant walks, tho he had slowed down to ..out the front door, in the back door.

Also, I've seen cat harnesses online that look more solid & secure than the kind I bought at a pet store. They were almost like jackets, and if I had not lost my cat to old age during the winter, I would have purchased one, as they look more comfortable. Does anyone know more about these?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys! It would be nice to offer them some more interesting options for being out and about! There are people in our neighborhood who let their cats out unsupervised but we live right on the corner of a busy (for nova scotia!) intersection and I would never feel comfortable, especially with the kitten. I'll look into ordering some harnesses online when we're ready to start trying!
 

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Also, please do not consider getting a dog harness, as Nora said, cats are built completey different than cats, and cats can easily slip a dog harness.
With all due respect Janis I'd ask you to take a second look at what I posted. I spent substantial time shopping at both Pet Supplies Plus and PetsMart as well as a local feed store before settling on the harness I currently use.
The cat harness generally had but one adjustable loop or lacked the securing strap that connects neck to chest while the dog harness from coastal actually prevents undue neck pressure while not allowing a cat to pull it's shoulders thru - something they can do all to easily with a harness that hasn't a separate adjustable neck and chest band.

I am fortunate that I had a cat that allowed for trying on several harnesses in the store and still regretted the initial cat harness I purchased when she managed to pull her shoulders down and thru, the dog harness is a much better option in this case, both for safety should the lease be pulled and for preventing escape.

This is the harness I use and suggest:
Nylon Adjustable Harness - 3/8" | Coastal Pet Products

There are in fact 2 cat specific harnesses on that same site that I do not find as appropriate, for the reasons listed above. A close look at the actual harness in question change your mind. For what it is worth the harness was vet approved (my vet also preferred this harness over typical cat harnesses and was surprised by how well the cats were secured stating that the 2 clips may be harder for some owners to deal with but they support both of our cats quite comfortably).
 

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Thank you Nora...I was just speaking from experience from when I purchased a regular dog harness at a pet store for my 25 lb cat years ago, and it did not work out. He constantly slipped his front legs out. And then our vet at that time explained that dog harnesses did not work well and were not safe on cats because cats were built differently.

If you have found a dog harness that will work on a cat that is certainly a plus.

The jacket-type I spoke of are pictured on HDW's CAT WALKING JACKETS© website. They are made particularly for cats, and for security & comfort which is why I was drawn to them.
 

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Unfortunately, the cat-who-loved-to-walk went over the Rainbow Bridge, and the one I have now backs away from the door when I open it, which is good, I guess. I don't think he'd ever be comfortable outside from the way he acts. The kicker is, he was a dumpster colony feral! I was originally put onto the jacket by an employee at a pet store; can't do a check-back, as I don't even remember which store. She recommended them as I told her my cat had occasionally slipped out of the standard pet store one by rolling on the ground but still nowhere like when I had tried the dog harness for my other cat. And, Midnight was so old by then that he didn't run when he slipped out anyway, so I didn't rush to get one. But, has anyone else actually used a similar jacket?
 

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Here's a useful youtube video of how to harness train a kitty. Misa was crawling at first because she wasn't used to it. Now she wears it like it's a collar. She still in training though. She still not use to the outdoors yet, but she likes going to the bushes and she's calmer when I hold her


I think this method works well.
 

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I think a walking jacket or a velcro harness is best for a cat because it's a lot more comfortable and doesn't do as much pressure on he cat. I was thinking of buying a walking jacket for Misa because the harness I have does some pressure n her neck, even though she wears it like it's a collar. It's like trying on a bra. lol It may not be comfortable at first, but you get use to it eventually.
 
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