I have three cats, two of whom do not fit into any commercial harness because of their size. Years ago, I had a Cornish Rex for whom the smallest commercial harness would fall off because it was too big for him.
The answer was simple; make custom fitting harnesses for them. McCavity (the Rex), loved the idea of having his own harness. No other cat was small enough to wear it, and since it was made of denim, he took on an air of “king-of-the-yard” when he was outside.
Marvin and Shy, both huge cats in their own rights, aren’t fat. Just large cats. They both act like the “king-of-the-jungle” when dressed, and T’Siri, a delicate Manx, acts like a true diva in her custom harness. Seriously, when isn’t she a diva?
To make your own cat harness, you will need:
• Measuring tape
• Scissors and sewing equipment
• Fabric or webbing
• Small Buckles, snaps or d-rings
• Elastic (optional)
• A small d-ring or o-ring
• Marking tool
• The cat (sometimes easier to say than catch and hold)
Catch and hold kitty. While you have kitty, measure around his/her neck. Allow one or two of your fingers between the tape and their neck so the collar won’t be too tight. Try gently to pull the loop off kitty’s head. If it won’t go, great. Add two inches to this measurement.
Next, measure kitty’s around chest just behind the front legs, again giving one or two fingers space. Add two inches to this measurement.
Last measurement you need is the distance between the neck and the chest strap. This is where a leash will be attached. Add two inches to this measurement.
Release kitty, pet and praise, give lavish treats and go put on the necessary iodine and bandages.
I’ll describe the process of making my “tough-guys” denim harness. Cut strips of denim for each measured piece, two inches wide and two inches longer than kitty’s measurements.
Using an iron, fold the denim strips to the middle and press. Fold over with the two edges at the side seam. Press again.
Take the strips to the sewing machine and sew each edge with an 1/8″ seam or use a double needle stitch to secure the strip.
Zigzag all ends, or fold over pieces of scrap leather or fabric to secure the ends of all strips.
Attach your choice of buckles or fastener to the collar and the chest strap. Do not attach the top strap yet. Follow the package directions for your buckle
Attach a d-ring or o-ring to one end of the top strap.
Catch kitty again. I like to have catnip treats standing by. Attach collar and chest strap to ensure fit.
Using the marker, make an “X” where the top strap attachments to the collar and chest strap. Most commercial harnesses have the buckles directly under kitty’s chin and chest, but I find it far easier to attach harnesses with the buckles at the sides.
Remove the collar and the chest strap, thank kitty, pets and praises, lots of treats.
Back to the sewing machine. Attach the top strap to the marks on the harness, folding under the collar to make a stronger connection.
Your kitty’s new harness is complete. Each time it’s worn, praise kitty and let him/her know he/she is the most beautiful or handsome cat in the world. It sometimes works.
Notes to Consider:
Not every cat will take to wearing a harness. Mine eventually do, if they want to go outside into the yard at all.
To “train” a cat to a harness and leash- they walk, you follow. Soothe them when they aren’t used to “big human feet” crunching leaves behind them. To keep kitty from going where they aren’t supposed to, say “no,” and hold the leash so they can’t go forward. That sometimes works too.
If kitty is allowed to leave the yard, something that’s against every city ordinance and dangerous for kitty’s health, insert a piece of elastic in the collar and the chest straps. If the collar or chest strap becomes caught on something, kitty won’t strangle or starve to death.
Attach kitty’s ID and rabies tags to the harness so if anything happens, kitty has a better chance of returning home.
This makes a great Christmas gift for kitty, and for kitty parents. These harnesses may also be made for small dogs.