Training your cat to use a leash requires a sturdy, lightweight cat harness that fits well. Cat collars aren’t a good attachment point for leashes, especially breakaway collars, for safety reasons–feline necks can easily slip out of a collar, or get injured by excessive pulling. With the right harness, even an indoor cat can explore nature safely, without you having to fear that they'll run away or get lost.
To inform our cat harness research, we spoke with animal advocate Jackson Galaxy, a cat expert and host of Animal Planet's show “My Cat From Hell,” about what features to look for in a cat harness.
"There are people who will stand behind a lot of different types of harnesses. The kind that I go for are the ones that are more like vests, that cover the top part of a cat’s chest," Galaxy told The Spruce Pets.
Our favorite is the CatRomance Anti-Escape Cat Harness & Leash Set because its easy to fit, and is made of breathable polyester mesh that’s both washable and stain resistant. Plus, it comes with a five-foot nylon leash. We looked at dozens of harness options to develop this list of the best cat harnesses available, evaluating cost, materials, quality, and fit.
CatRomance Anti-Escape Cat Harness and Leash Set
Good coverage and range of motion
Limited size and color options
This harness slides over your cat’s head—there are points of adjustment on both sides to find the best fit on the neck—and then has two buckles on the back for tightening straps until they are snug across your cat’s mid-section. The fit is right when you can slide two fingers under the harness.
The CatRomance Anti-Escape Harness benefits from its multiple points of adjustment and easy fitting. Its straps are stitched to air mesh fabric panels that distribute the harness across their back and chest. There are more minimal cat harnesses and more padded ones, but the CatRomance harness finds a balance between breathability and adjustability, with enough structure that cats won’t be able to slip through straps. It’s also soft enough that leg and neck holes won’t chafe. The harness also dries quickly, which makes a good pick for bad weather.
While several harnesses in our list also have reflective strips or threads, this one has both high-visibility piping and reflective threads interwoven into the nylon webbing. It’s also got a metal D-ring, where you can attach the included 59-inch leash, which has a clip that swivels for easier maneuvering.
The CatRomance harness comes in several different prints and colors, though we’ve found that your options vary depending on the retailer. CatRomance also offers vest harnesses for kittens in the same durable mesh and webbing, with multiple size and color options.
Price at time of publish: $14
Closure Type: Plastic quick release buckle | Sizes: Extra-small and small | Colors: Pink and black
Pupteck Adjustable Cat Harness Collar with Leash
Quick-release clips on both halves
Only available in one adjustable size
Claws can snag in webbing
An unpadded step-in harness is useful for vet visits, trips to the airport, and other situations where your cat will spend most of the time in the carrier. Although a minimal, H-style harness can be easier for cats to escape from than a jacket or vest harness, it offers more security than a collar. The Pupteck Cat Harness is adjustable across both your cat’s neck and mid-section, making it a minimal option with enough flexibility to fit securely on most adult cats.
The Pupteck Cat Harness is made from nylon webbing and both of its adjustable straps close with quick-release buckles, so you can either put it on over your cat’s head, or clip it around instead. A sturdy, metal D-ring connects to the leash.
You can pick from a variety of bright colors. It could be used as an entry-level harness to test your cat’s interest and help train them to start to explore the outdoors.
Price at time of publish: $10
Closure Type: Plastic buckle | Sizes: Extra-small, small, medium, large | Colors: Black, orange, pink, multicolor
Supet Cat Harness and Leash Set
Good range of motion
Sits on shoulders, not neck
Easy to put on and fit
Too bulky for some
This step-in, padded, breathable, stain- and odor-resistant polyester mesh vest closes on the back with hook-and-loop and a quick release plastic buckle. The design distributes the weight of any pulling across the full front of the vest, reducing overall pressure on any one point, avoiding injury or abrasion of your kitty’s delicate skin.
You can get a great fit around the tummy area using the two adjustable slides on the sides. Two metal D-rings attach to the 4.5-foot color-coordinated nylon leash. Your cat will like that the edges have comfortable padded piping. Plus, the reflective strip is more visible than harnesses with only reflective threading.
Price at time of publish: $17
Closure Type: Hook-and-loop and quick release plastic buckle | Sizes: Small, medium, large | Colors: 14 solid single and two-tone colors
Best for Kittens
Rabbitgoo Escape Proof Cat Harness and Leash Set
Restricts some motion
This vest-style step-in harness combines robust construction with features that keep wiley kittens comfortable. That includes padded chest and back pieces with soft edges that distribute pressure and are made from breathable nylon mesh. The adjustable strap means you can get a great fit with room to grow a bit as your kitten grows.
The back panel has a durable metal D-ring where you can clip the included five-foot leash. Reflective strips around the neck and chest help your baby stay visible in the twilight and darker hours. The reinforced stitching means it should last a long time. This durable harness is versatile enough to last for most kittens for their first year of life.
The Rabbitgoo Escape Proof Cat Harness is available in three sizes and 12 colors.
Price at time of publish: $16
Closure Type: Hook-and-loop and quick-release buckle | Sizes: Small, medium and large | Colors: 13 bright solids and prints
Kitty Holster Cat Harness
100% breathable cotton
Made in the United States
Includes pamphlet on how to train leash walking
Hook-and-loop adjustment happens on cat’s tummy
Long hair can get stuck in the hook-and-loop
Unlike most of the other harnesses on this list, this one is made of breathable cotton. This jacket-style harness also has an undyed inner cotton lining that can be a bonus for cats with allergies. Jackson Galaxy has used this harness on his show.
Putting it on your kitty is a little less stressful than some other harnesses because you only need to secure two hook-and-loop closures at the neck and tummy. Because it’s cotton, this harness is machine washable, which makes it easy to clean between adventures.
Price at time of publish: $26
Closure Type: Two hook-and-loop closures | Sizes: Extra-small, small/medium, medium/large, extra-large | Colors: 10 solids and prints
PetSafe Come with Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash
Pressure on shoulders, not the throat
Front rubber grip can slip down
Some cats are sensitive to weight or pressure on their fur. Those kitties might prefer a lighter, less obtrusive harness like this H-style harness made of 0.38-inch nylon webbing. The patented design allows for pressure on the leash to gently tighten the shoulder straps, restraining any forward motion, but without putting pressure on the delicate throat area. It gives you gentle, comfortable control of your cat or kitten while you explore the world together.
The harness has points of adjustment in three places (two girth straps and a sternum slide), allowing you to achieve an excellent fit. It’s also easy to put on your cat, since the belly strap comes in a different color, allowing you to quickly see which strap goes over the shoulders and which goes under the belly. This harness will allow them to retain a complete range of motion.
The Bungee leash that’s included provides gentle flexibility when your kitty pulls. The PetSafe Gentle Leader harness even includes a detailed fitting and harness training guide.
Price at time of publish: $17
Closure Type: Quick release plastic buckles | Sizes: Small, medium and large | Colors: Seven two-tone, solid color combos
Best Leash and Harness Set
Pidan Cat Harness and Leash Set
Easy to take on and off
Good for beginners
Too small for some cats over 12 pounds
This I-shaped, silk polyester strap harness is quite minimal so your cat will barely notice it while they’re wandering with free range of motion. The quick release polyoxymethylene (POM) buckles are durable to match the chic back metal ring that attaches to the matching leash. The harness straps are made of a soft blend of silk and terylene polyester webbing.
The two main harness straps that wrap around the neck and chest are adjustable with a slide so you can get a snug fit. Customers love that this harness is so adjustable and some noted that even their escape artist couldn’t get out of this one. This is too small for some cats in the 12- to 15-pound range, so try the Voyager or the Pupteck harnesses if your cat is larger than that.
Price at time of publish: $14
Closure Type: Two plastic buckles | Sizes: One size adjustable neck 7.8-12.2 inches, chest 10.2-16.9 inches | Colors: Dark gray, blue, yellow and multicolor
Best for Big Cats
Voyager Step-In Flex Harness
Easy to put on
Good range of motion
Plastic buckle could be more durable
This step-in harness won’t have to awkwardly go over your cat's head. The pressure of pulling is distributed across the chest area which is made with soft, breathable, synthetic polyester mesh that’s functional in any weather. Reflective stitching on the webbing offers added visibility and safety for those twilight hunts.
Just measure around your kitty’s neck and chest and then consult the chart to figure out which size is right for your big baby. This harness is adjustable in four places, with slides, so it's possible to get a fully custom fit. Two metal D-rings connect to the leash so you don’t have to worry about getting separated. Among the 10 colors available, they offer red and orange if you prefer high visibility. Some retailers offer this harness in a set with a matching leash.
Price at time of publish: $16
Closure Type: Plastic side buckle | Sizes: Extra-small, small, medium, large, extra-large | Colors: 10 solid colors
Best for Travel
Travel Cat The True Adventurer Reflective Cat Harness and Leash
Nylon webbing leash included
Good range of motion
A lot of padding and coverage limits range of motion
Even if you don't plan to take your cat on regular walks, keeping a harness and leash on hand can be a good idea for any travel where your cat might need to be out of a crate. You’ll want a great fit to ensure they cannot slip out while you’re away from home.
This harness is an excellent candidate for travel because it’s reflective and comfortable. You can also get a snug fit while still having wiggle room for growth or weight gain via a dual closure, which combines both a hook-and-loop seal and a plastic buckle for maximum security and adjustability.
The vest-style Travel Cat Reflective Cat Harness is recommended by cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy (and is one of the products he sells on his site). It slips over the front legs and fastens at their shoulders, so it’s easy to put on and good for cats that don’t like having things put over their heads. Your cat will appreciate the breathable mesh while riding in the car or kennel. You’ll appreciate that there are two metal rings that attach to the leash.
The husband and wife team behind Travel Cat made this harness specifically for cats, not both cats and dogs like most harnesses. So you should be able to find the size that will ensure secure travel for your cat whether you’re headed to the vet or around the world.
Price at time of publish: $30
Closure Type: Hook-and-loop and plastic buckle | Sizes: Extra-small (kittens), small, medium, and large | Colors: 6 core solids and 10 limited edition prints
We like the CatRomance Anti-Escape Vest Harness and Leash Set because it’s the right balance between enough coverage while still offering a good range of motion. Being adjustable in four places makes it easier to get the perfect fit, and therefore more likely to stay put, keeping your cat safer wherever you roam. If your cat is in the extra-large range, they’ll like the Best Pet Supplies Voyager Step-in Flex Harness that is easy to put on and comes in ten beautiful colors.
What to Look for in a Cat Harness
When choosing a cat harness that’s right for you and your kitties, be sure to consider style and materials, sizing and fit and closures.
Sizing & Fit
Each manufacturer will have their own recommendations on how and where to measure your cat, but most are based on a chest and neck measurement. Then you’ll reference a sizing chart or table to get the right size for your cat. Most offer from two to six size choices giving you the best chance for a perfect fit. And fit is perhaps the most important feature because without the right fit, your cat can slip out of the harness and risk getting lost or injured.
Some are adjustable while others are not, so take that into consideration when measuring your cat. Measure twice to avoid errors in size selection and search reviews about fit to see if you should round up or down when you’re on the edge between two sizes.
If your cat’s weight fluctuates between winter and summer like mine, then opt for one with multiple adjustment straps or hook-and-loop around the chest, like our Best Overall pick, the CatRomance Anti-Escape Vest Harness and Leash Set, which is adjustable in four places for the perfect fit.
Style & Materials
We are always trying to balance function and style, but we also spend too much time agonizing over which shape, color or pattern when there are multiple choices.
“The most secure styles are vests or jackets, but some cats will only tolerate H-style harnesses–also called a figure-eight style–which consist of more minimal straps and loops,” explains Galaxy. Those called “step-in” mean that your cat’s paws must go through holes in the harness so avoid this style if your cat isn’t cooperative. Instead choose a clip on minimalist harness like the PetSafe Gentle Leader Come with Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash Set.
Some cats need full coverage to stay in their harness while others prefer one that’s “barely-there.” If your cat is a puller and/or tolerates bandanas, bow ties or Halloween costumes, then opt for a vest or jacket.
Also consider the fabrics used. Polyester fabric and nylon webbing is the most common option available because it is stain and water resistant, inexpensive and durable. Those that use polyester or nylon mesh are more breathable and so a good option for warmer climates and seasons. If your cat will walk in the rain, avoid cotton that absorbs liquids and takes longer to dry than polyester fabrics.
Denim, canvas and other cotton fabrics are breathable and offer more options with regard to cute colors, prints and patterns, but not all offer the same durability and stain resistance, so choose carefully.
You want to find the balance of a secure closure method to ensure the clasp won’t accidentally become undone but also quick-release enough to come undone if the harness becomes snagged on a fence or shrub.
You also want something that is easy for you to open and close to make the process stress-free for you both. Many have one or two quick release plastic buckles. Make sure the buckles are sturdy and on the top or sides where you can see them easily. And check their condition regularly since breakage is common when they’re used frequently.
Other harnesses rely on secure and adjustable hook-and-loop closures. While most hook-and-loop can be super sturdy, some can become less effective over repeated use and if fur gets in the closure. So keep the hook-and-loop free of hair and debris for optimal performance.
Several of the best harnesses use a dual system of hook-and-loop and a plastic buckle, like the CatRomance, Supet and Travel Cat Harnesses. These offer peace of mind and added safety.
How do you measure a cat for a harness?
To determine your cat’s harness size, you’ll need use two key measurements: neck circumference and chest girth. Using a flexible measuring tape (the kind a tailor uses), take these two measurements sung to the cat’s body. Measure the cat’s chest girth right behind the front legs. If you have a particularly fluffy cat, you’ll want to gently press their fur. Then check these numbers against the manufacturers’ size guide, and see if they have any sizing additional tips specific to their product.
How do you get a cat used to a harness?
It takes lots of patience to get a cat used to a harness, so introduce it slowly in a comfortable and calm environment. Galaxy says you want to establish a strong a positive association between the harness and the treat. He recommends picking a particularly special treat to use only when training.
Start by putting the harness on and adjusting the fit. “It’s OK for them to do the falling over on their side thing, or backing up out of it,” he says. “Try to keep it on them for at least five minutes before you take it off and give them their treat.” Don’t attach the leash at first. “It’s another source of weight, it’s another weird feeling on their back.”
In your next sessions, slowly increase the amount of time your cat has the harness on. “The second step is taking a step,” says Galaxy. “You want them to start feeling it and feeling what it’s like to walk in this thing. That’s when you use your treat again.” Once your cat is comfortable wearing the harness by itself, then introduce the leash inside.
Once your cat is comfortable walking around the house while wearing both the harness and the leash, you’re ready to venture out into the world.
Galaxy says it’s very important to keep in mind that going outside is not suited for every cat. If you get to the point where your cat is comfortable with the harness and leash, but once outside is frozen or showing signs of distress, don’t force it. For more of Galaxy’s advice on determining if outdoor walks are right for your cat, check out his video on the subject.
Can you put a dog harness on a cat?
Yes, some cat owners have success using harnesses marketed for small dogs on their cats. “I have a cat that’s bigger than a dog, and one of the dog vests fits her better,” says Jackson Galaxy. “But you’ve got to be very careful.”
He explains that dog harnesses may have larger leg openings than those designed for cats: “If they can get a leg out, it’s not even a matter of them escaping, it’s a matter of them hurting themselves if they freak out.”
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
The Spruce Pets exhaustively researches and recommends a broad range of products. We also tap a network of experts and testers to help you make smarter purchases.
This piece was written by Lorraine Wilde, who rigorously researched and evaluated the cost, ingredients and quality of each dog food, as well as customer and expert reviews and each company’s business ethics. Lorraine has had at least two cat and two dog companions for the past 35 years and she expects only the best for them. One of her cats enjoys exploring the yard and gardens as much as possible.
A previous version of this article was written by Maggie Badore, a lifelong cat lover and former Senior Editor for The Spruce Pets.
For advice on how to find the best harness for your cat, we spoke with Jackson Galaxy, cat expert and host of Animal Planet's show My Cat From Hell.