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Home > Cats > How to Get a Cat Used to a Harness: 17 Effective Tips

How to Get a Cat Used to a Harness: 17 Effective Tips

Adorable black and white cat in a harness standing looking into the distance

Getting your cat used to wearing a harness can be a great way to take them outdoors safely and comfortably without worrying that they will get away or attack another animal. However, cats are known for their independent and sometimes stubborn nature, so getting them used to wearing a harness may take time and patience. If this sounds like your situation, keep reading as we provide several tips and tricks that should help ease the process and improve your chance of success.


The 17 Tips to Get Your Cat Used to a Harness

1. Choose the Right Size Harness

There are many types of cat harnesses on the market, so choose one that fits your cat well and is comfortable for them to wear. Most harness brands will have a size chart, so take the time to measure your cat carefully. If your cat is still a kitten, remember that they will continue to grow, so get a harness that is adjustable.

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2. Use a Soft and Lightweight Harness

A harness made of soft and lightweight materials, such as nylon or mesh, will help your cat feel comfortable and not weighed down by the harness, and they will be more likely to wear it.

putting cat harness on a cat
Photo Credit By: Sergio Canovas, Shutterstock

3. Adjust the Fit

Once you choose the right harness for your cat, make sure it fits them properly. Adjust it so it is snug enough that it can’t slip out but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable, restricts movement, or cuts off blood circulation.

4. Start Slowly

Introduce the harness to your cat slowly and in a non-threatening way. Let your cat sniff and investigate it for a day before putting it on them. Cats are sensitive to new smells and will be more accepting of things that smell like home.

The owner puts on a leash with a harness on a Scottish kitten for the first walk
Photo Credit By: Katerina Dalemans, Shutterstock

5. Use Positive Reinforcement

Reward your cat with treats and praise when they allow you to put the harness on and wear it and when they behave properly outdoors. However, be sure that the treats don’t account for more than 10% of their daily intake, or they could result in weight gain, leading to health problems later.

6. Practice Indoors

Before venturing outside, let your cat wear the harness indoors to help them get used to it without the added excitement of being outside. It will take most cats a few tries before they realize that their movement isn’t restricted while wearing the harness, and they usually feel more comfortable after that point.

7. Avoid Overstimulation

Cats can easily become overstimulated and overwhelmed, especially in an environment as exciting as the outdoors. If your cat becomes upset while wearing the harness and starts to meow loudly or lies on the ground refusing to move, take a break and try again later.

white cat with harness
Photo Credit By: ignartonosbg, Pixabay

8. Gradually Increase Harness-Wearing Time

Once your cat is comfortable wearing the harness indoors, gradually increase the time that they wear it. We recommend starting with short sessions of 5–10 minutes and increasing the time by intervals of 5 minutes once they seem comfortable. Don’t increase the time too quickly, or you might scare your cat and slow your progress.

9. Stay Close to Your Cat

When you first venture outdoors with your cat in a harness, stay close to ensure their safety and comfort. It will also make it easier to tell if your cat is trying to escape.

10. Use a Leash

Attach a leash to the harness so you can control your cat’s movements and keep them safe while they are wearing it. Choose a leash that gives your cat room to move around a little but is short enough to keep them under control, especially if there are other animals nearby.

Lady walking cat with harness
Image Credit: Amerigo_images, Shutterstock

11. Offer Them Treats While Outside

Once your cat is comfortable wearing the harness, you can offer them treats while outside to help convince them to move around and explore the outdoors.

12. Be Patient

Getting your cat used to wearing a harness may take a while, so be patient and consistent with your training. Plan to spend several sessions getting your cat used to the harness.

13. Stay Alert

Be aware of your surroundings and potential hazards that could scare or startle your cat when outside, and avoid loud or crowded areas when possible. Keep a watchful eye on your cat to ensure their safety and comfort, and get them to a safe place if you see any problems.

hepper cat harness

14. Gradually Introduce New Environments

Once your cat is comfortable wearing a harness outside, gradually introduce them to new environments, such as parks or busy streets, to help them become more comfortable with these experiences and surroundings.

15. Start Young

If possible, start training your cat to wear a harness when they are still young. Young cats tend to be more adaptable and may have an easier time getting used to wearing a harness. It can also help get them into a routine that carries into adulthood.

16. Don’t Force It

Don’t force the issue if your cat is resistant to wearing a harness. Instead, take a break and try again later, or consider a different approach to avoid creating stress or anxiety.

a domestic cat sitting on a sofa and looks at its owner
Image Credit: Amerigo_images, Shutterstock

17. Make It Fun

Try to make the training process as enjoyable as possible for your cat. Play, offer them treats and praise, and try to make the experience as positive as possible to help your cat see wearing the leash as a positive experience.



To get your cat used to wearing a harness, start slowly, choose the right harness, use positive reinforcement, practice indoors, avoid overstimulation, be patient, and stay alert. By following these tips, cat owners can help their pets become comfortable with wearing a harness and safely enjoy the great outdoors.

Featured Image Credit: Abi’s Photos, Shutterstock

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