Have you ever come home from work, only to see your furry friend sitting in the window, contemplating the outside world? Chances are that you have at least once or twice. It probably even made you ponder the idea of taking her outside to frolic in the grass and feel the breeze ruffle her fur as the birds chirp.
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The Benefits of Taking Your Cat Outside
Taking your cat on an adventure outdoors has many benefits. While inside, the noises cats hear are limited to the gentle whir of appliances or the footsteps of your upstairs neighbor. If the weather is nice, you may have the window open, and she is able to faintly hear the sound of cars passing by on the street or the chirping of birds in a nearby tree. Being outside offers a different kind of mental and physical stimulation than she gets from being inside.
Being outside together also helps her bond with you. Experiencing new sights and smells requires trust from both of you. She may be nervous as she gets used to these new things and having you nearby will be a source of comfort for her.
A way to ensure that she stays safe and to ease your nerves is to use a harness that is reliable and secure. However, buying a harness can be an intimidating task because there are so many on the market. How do you choose the right one for you and your cat?
How to Choose the Right Harness for Your Cat
It is important to remember that even though there are many options to choose from, all harnesses are not created equally. There are many features that should be taken into consideration when buying a harness for your cat. Knowing what features to look for will reduce the possibility of escape and discomfort.
Choosing the Right Type and Material
There are two main types of harnesses – leads and vests. A lead harness is made of adjustable, thin straps. Leads are easy to find at the pet store and pet parents often have the option of purchasing a lead that comes with a leash. It should be noted though, that cats escape from leads much easier than they do from thicker harnesses, called vests.
A vest is a harness that covers almost the entirety of a cat’s chest and tummy, making them the more secure option of the two types of harnesses. Vests are sometimes referred to as holsters or jackets, as well, and is a good option if your cat is spunky and you fear she will be able to escape her harness.
Choosing the right material is important too. Harnesses are made of materials such as leather, nylon, and polyester. It is usually recommended that pet parents avoid leather harnesses because they are often heavier and less forgiving. Your cat may find its movements hindered by the stiffness of the leather, so try to stick to materials that are lightweight, such as nylon or polyester, which are also a bit more breathable and easier to clean.
You should also make sure you choose a harness that is going to last a long time. Avoid a harness that seems like it is cheaply made, flimsy or if any of the stitching seems to be coming on undone. The harness you choose should be made of quality materials to ensure that it remains secure and will not fall apart while your cat is wearing it outside.
Choosing the Right Size for Your Cat
Choosing the right size harness is a crucial aspect of picking out a harness for your cat. Ensuring that it fits correctly will help with your cat’s comfort level while wearing the harness, as well as keeping her secure and preventing her from easily escaping. If you need help figuring out how to measure your cat for her harness, check out this great guide that gives you step by step instructions.
Choosing a harness that is adjustable is also a great way to ensure that it will fit your cat, especially if she has measurements that make finding the perfect size difficult, or if the fit doesn’t quite match the size chart. This is also helpful when buying a harness for a younger cat that may still grow. The harness will be easy to loosen as she gets bigger, rather than having to purchase a new one.
Amazon Has Harnesses with Great Reviews
Now that you have all the information necessary to make a smart decision about what kind of harness to buy for your cat, you can begin looking at some different options. A great place to start is on Amazon because they have a plethora of harnesses to choose from. You also have the added bonus of being able to read customer reviews when making your decision.
Take into consideration the overall rating of the harness and make a note of what customers loved or didn’t love about the harness they purchased. If multiple customers have had the same issue, it would be a good idea to avoid that particular harness. Seeing customer photos is also beneficial because you can get a better idea of how the harness fits different cats. Check out some of these options below.
Leads Available on Amazon
Vests Available on Amazon
1. Denim Vest
Tips to Train Your Cat to Wear a Harness
Once you’ve found the perfect harness for your cat, it is time to get her used to it. Here are some tips to help you train her to wear the harness and prepare for your first adventure outside. Keep in mind that it may take some time for her to adjust to the feel of the harness but with patience and the help of these tips, the two of you will be able to master it in no time.
Tip #1 – Teach Her How to Wear It
Giving your cat some time to adjust to wearing a harness is important. Once you’ve found one that she will be comfortable in, put it on her and let her roam around the house. This will give her time to adjust and get used to the way it feels. You can find more tips on getting her used to the harness here.
Tip #2 – Teach Her How to Walk on a Leash
Once she is used to wearing the harness and seems to be walking around the house normally, it is time to get her used to walking with the leash attached. Gently hold onto the leash as she walks around the house so that she can adapt to you following closely behind her as she explores. Do this for an hour or so for a few days before you take her outside. This will also allow you to address any issues that may come up.
Tip #3 – Prevent Her from Escaping
If your cat isn’t used to wearing a harness, she will probably spend some time trying to escape from it. This is one of the most nerve inducing things that pet parents worry about when taking their cat outside, so it is important to try to address the issue prior to going outdoors.
If she tries to escape by pulling against the leash, which would allow her to slip her head out of the neck hole, give the leash some slack so she has nothing to strain against. She will more than likely try to do this a few times, so make sure you are prepared to repeat this exercise. Eventually, she will stop trying to escape.
Tip #4 – Reward Her for Good Behavior
Don’t forget to reward her good behavior, too! If she allows the harness to be put on without any major trouble, offer her a head scratch and a piece of treat, so she knows that she is doing well. Continue to praise her and offer portions of a treat each time she walks around with the harness and the leash. When she stops pulling against the leash in an effort to slip out of the harness, praise her and offer a treat, so that she will learn to not react that way.
Tip #5 – Know Her Personality
Not all cats are going to be the outdoorsy type. A good way to know if your cat will thrive while outside for a walk is to know her personality. If she is an outgoing cat, she will probably be excited to spend time outside but if your cat is naturally shy, she may not enjoy it. You can learn more about the different personalities of cats here. If you’re on the fence, it is okay to test the waters by bringing her outside to see how she reacts, but make sure to do it in a quiet, less stressful environment.
Go Forth and Explore
Now that you’ve got the knowledge necessary to find the perfect harness for you and your cat, you can finally make your daydream a reality and take her outside to frolic in the grass. Just remember that going outside for the first time will be a new experience for her, so be patient and go slow. She may not be ready to chase the leaves blowing across the lawn quite yet, but give her a little time and she will surely look forward to your adventures outside.