Walking a cat isn't something you see everyday, but it's increasing with popularity as our roads become busier and new construction sadly replaces green spaces. Walking with a cat harness has worked incredibly well for us. They took to it instantly. The cat harness is easy to put on, doesn't bother them and they are still able to run, climb trees and explore under-brush.
We created a video of our cat Sunny on a harness. Watch here :-)
Below: Forrest's harness doesn't prevent him exploring under-brush
Possible reasons for
Here, a New York Times writer shares his reasons for and experience with walking cats on a harness. If your cat is 100% indoors and exhibiting boredom related behaviours then a harness may be something to look into.
Check with the vet
The vet knows you, your cat, and where you live, so can provide the best advice on whether harness walking is a good idea. Please discuss with your vet first.
Invest in a good quality harness
We used a freebie harness initially and it broke after one month while in use. We then used the Rogz Cat Harness which is very reliable. We also use the Tre Ponti Cat Harnesses from Italy.
Below: Forrest wears a camouflage Tre Ponti Cat Harness. Available from Made Moggie.
Extend the lead
Most harness kits come with a 1.3m to 1.8m lead. We wanted our cats to have more freedom so we bought a 5m extendable lead that clips onto the harness. This lead also has a brake system which is useful when they try to jump the fence or climb too high up a tree.
Below: Sunny wears Rogz Cat Harness with Retractable Lead. Harness available from Made Moggie.
Distract the Cat
We strap them into the harness in front of a glass door leading to the garden. Any initial resistance to wearing a harness, quickly disappears with the sight and promise of being outdoors. If this doesn't work, try giving them some food and putting the harness on while they eat.
We usually only walk our cats around the garden. Familiarising them with the neighbourhood means they are more likely to wonder outside your property if they happen to escape. As a rare treat, when it's late at night and the streets are very quiet we take our boy cat for a stroll around the block.
Get a chair
Walking a cat is very different to a dog. There will be frequent, long periods of down time where they sit, relax and take in the sounds and the smells of nature. Sometimes they will stare at a shrub for 30 minutes. A light, easy-to-carry chair will provide you comfort, such as a portable fishing stool.
Bring a Cat Teaser
Our cats love to play with their toys while outside. It's a great way to get them exercising, and it's also great for leading them in any direction you want to go. We recommend the KittyWhip for this.
Set a Timer
We set a timer for 1hr at the start of the walk. The cats now voluntarily head towards the door to go inside when it sounds.
Take the harness off as soon as you are back inside. Never leave your cat strapped into the harness unattended, as they can entangle body parts and injure themselves.
Give them a treat
Reward them for coming back into the house, with food. It makes it easier to bring them in from their walk in the future.
We walk our cats twice a day. In daytime and at night. We believe they love the night walks more as they are a lot more active.
Below: Sunny atop a fence.