Cathartic Ink

putting my own spin on things

To Harness Train a Cat.


Cat in a Harness
This might be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever attempted to do. In fact, I am dead positive that this is the most ridiculous things I’ve ever done. I never really planned to own a cat, much preferring the cats of others that I could walk away from once I was done celebrating its cuteness. Now that we have her, I’m thrilled, she’s a good companion for me while I work from home even if she does have her foibles, like walking across the color printer to get down off the windowsill.

Her biggest foible, however, is a desire to spend time outside. She’ll try to worm her way out as we let ourselves in. It’s not possible for her to be an indoor-outdoor cat here so we’re working with that desire to be outside. By training her to wear a harness and a leash.

Things we have learned:
1. She doesn’t care for the harness much.
2. She hates it less the more she wears it.
3. She’s afraid to be outside.
4. She still wants to go outside.
5. When we put it on, she will walk funny and flop onto her side.
6. She will walk on the leash.
7. She does not take direction (so we are not walking her, just keeping her on a tether, basically).
8. This process is going to take patience, time and treats.
9. It is impossible not to laugh at her when she balks in protest.
10. The cracks along the outside edge of the deck are very interesting.

Things we recommend for other people who want to harness train their cat:
1. Have patience. Put it on, then back away and give a treat when the cat walks to you.
2. Treat the cat normally when the harness is on. Snuggle, play, etc.
3. It’s not going to happen overnight.
4. Consistency. Make the cat wear the harness for at least a short time every other day.
5. Getting the cat to wear the harness is easy. Getting it to like it? Harder.


  1. Sarita

    TOO funny! We just adopted a cat from the SPCA, and luckily for us, the noisy kids outside keep her very happy to be inside.

    I can just imagine how hard it must be trying to harness train a cat… I’ve never even heard of that before! Good luck 🙂

  2. jodi

    I’ve only ever once seen a cat that looked completely comfortable in a harness, a slinky Egyptian-drawing type cat named Islam that lived next door to me ten or so years ago. He’d lounge contentedly on the big wide porch all day and happily go for leash walks around the neighbourhood. But then, he’d also quite complacently allow himself to be washed twice weekly with Dr Bronner’s soap, so I always wondered if perhaps he wasn’t a real cat at all but some alien imposter, or just a really slinky dog with a funny-shaped head.

  3. Amy

    We had several rabbits a few years ago and one would love being taken out on the leash, loved car rides, would sit contedtedly on a mat eating grapes while I worked. The other would turn herself inside out, flop, jump, twist, and finaly collapse into a heaving pile of fur at just having the harness put on. I think you can guess which one went to work with me more often

  4. Erica

    5. When we put it on, she will walk funny and flop onto her side.

    So funny – that’s exactly what my cat does. I put him in his harness and he just falls over.

  5. anita


    thanks for the post.

    If you got to and click on the cat behavour page and then scroll down you will see a piece on me training my kittens to wear a harness. They now go out walking with me and thiers photo’s up to prove it too. I’d love it if you woudl contribute to my site and send how you did it plus some photo’s. It gives people encouragement.

    Look forward to hearing from you.