GADGETS & ACCESSORIES

DIY Cat Harness: 3 Simple DIY Harness Models to Follow

cat harness for a white pet
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

Cats need exercises, so it is always a good idea to walk your pet. You definitely need a cat harness when walking or hiking. Do you plan on walking your cat tomorrow but can’t find a cat harness in the stores, or they are all exorbitantly expensive? Don’t fret as you can make a DIY cat harness.

Many people think that a harness is another one of those non-essential cat accessories. But think again—a cat harness is a must-have for any cat who loves to go out for a walk with you. It is placed across her shoulders and under her tummy. It’s much less constricting than a collar and much safer. But that is just one of the many advantages that a cat harness has to offer.

In this post, we’ll learn more about cat harnesses. Why do cats need one? What’s the proper way to use it? And more importantly, how can you make a DIY cat harness? At the end of this article, we’re confident that you can make a well-fitting and durable harness for your cat.

Why Do Cats Need a Harness?

walking with a cat using a harness

There are many benefits that cat harnesses have to offer:

  • Safety: Unlike dogs who have strong throats, cats do not have strong throats. Thus, it is a no-no to attach a leash directly to a cat’s collar as she could get choked if she resists walking. The harness can spread out the force between her shoulders, belly, and chest, so it reduces the likelihood that she will get injured. Harnesses are also recommended for kittens because it is harder for them to slip out of it.

  • Daily Exercise: With a cat harness, your pet can safely go out for a long walk. Regular exercise can keep her healthy and happy. Cats need an outlet to release their pent-up energy. If you don’t regularly take her out for exercise, it is possible that she may develop destructive behaviors such as climbing curtains or scratching your cabinets. Allowing your cat to have regular exercise is one of the best ways to boost her fitness levels and improve general well-being.

  • Mental Stimulation: Your cat can become bored when she is always in the house. But if you allow her to take a walk occasionally, she can get a closer look at the insects, trees, plants, and grass. All those new sights, sounds, and textures will stimulate her senses and sharpen her mental faculties.

  • Convenient Travel: Using a cat harness can also make traveling more hassle-free not only for your pet but also for you. This is particularly true for mischievous kittens who can easily slip out of collars. And even if you use a cat carrier to bring your pet from your home to another place like your vet’s clinic, a cat harness will prevent her from bolting and running away from you when you need to take her out of the carrier.

See Also: How to Teach a Cat to Walk on a Leash

How to Make Different Types of DIY Cat Harnesses

Making a DIY cat harness is not only a way to save money. The truth is that most of the commercial cat harnesses available in the market are mini dog harnesses that produce mixed results for cats.

Most cats, especially kittens, will be able to escape these harnesses using their strength and momentum. Also, commercial cat harnesses can be quickly outgrown by cats. Some are also not durable and can be easily shredded by our pets.

Finally, making a cat harness isn’t that hard as you will learn from reading our comprehensive DIY instructions:

#1: Paracord Cat Harness

paracord for making a cat harness

For this simple DIY project, you will need the following materials:

  • A pair of scissors

  • Side release plastic buckles

  • Paracord packages

  • Candle

  • Tape measure

  • Piece of wood

Here’s a step by step guide on how to make a DIY paracord cat harness:

  • Using a tape measure, get the measurements of your pet around her belly, around her neck, and the distance between the neck and the middle of her rib cage. Don’t make it too tight or too loose. Make sure that you can fit two of your fingers between the tape and the body of the cat.

  • Now it’s time to learn how to do the Cobra stitch on the paracord. In a piece of wood, place the paracord in such a way that two of its strands are coming down the middle while two ends are off the sides.

  • Take the end to your left and bring it over the middle strands and under the end to your right. Hold the other end and bring it under the middle strands and over the end to your left.

  • Pull both ends tightly. You’ve just done a Cobra Stitch. Continue this process until you have stitched the paracord to its desired length.

  • Cut the cord about seven times as long as the measurement for the belly.

  • The end of the cord will show a white string coming through the center. Get the candle, light it up and briefly place the end of the cord in the flame. This should prevent the cord from unraveling.

  • Let’s start with the belly portion of the harness. Push the cord through one of the holes in the buckle before you put both ends into the hole found in the other buckle.

  • Adjust the pieces so that the cord will reach its desired length. Then start doing the Cobra Stitch.

  • Once you are done with the belly portion, repeat the same steps for the neck portion. However, remember that the measurement for the neck part will be different from that of the belly. The cord for the neck portion should be about seven times the diameter of your cat’s neck.

  • After you’re finished with the neck part, you must connect the neck and belly portions of the harness. You can do this by loosening the left loop from the last stitch on the neck part. Then do the same on the right loop on the last stitch on the belly part.

  • Cut the third piece of paracord. The length should be seven times the distance between the neck and the middle of your cat’s rib cage. Fuse the ends and fold the paracord in half.

  • Attach the looped end of this piece to the loosened loop for the neck portion. You will have to loop it through the other side to connect to the piece for the belly.

  • Continue with the Cobra stitching until you reach about a quarter of the way. Attach the end of this part to the belly portion circle where you had loosened the loop.

  • Finish knotting the remaining cord for both the belly and neck circles. Connect the remaining parts of these circles to the ends of the paracord buckles.

  • Now you can try this DIY paracord harness on your pet. You may connect a leash clip to the paracord in the middle part of the harness.

#2: Cat Jacket Harness

cat jacket harness

If you didn’t like the paracord harness or you simply found the Cobra stitching a bit complicated, you can try making your own DIY cat jacket harness.

But first, prepare the following items:

  • Paper

  • Pencil

  • Measuring tape

  • A fabric of your choice

  • Velcro

  • D Ring (1-inch) for leash attachment

  • Sewing machine

  • One-inch strapping for harness

  • Double sided tape

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary materials, follow this step-by-step guide:

  • Get your cat’s measurements. Similar to the other DIY cat harness, you should get the measurements of your cat in the following places: around her neck, around her belly, and the distance between her neck and the center of the rib cage.

  • Cut a paper pattern guided by the cat’s measurements. It’s really up to you to design a sample pattern taking into consideration the size and comfort level of your cat. You can search for printable cat jacket harness designs online. You can even make use of an old T-shirt to get the right size before creating the actual harness.

  • You may also extend the openings for the front legs so that the fabric would overlap and wrap around the cat. Overlapping will give more room for Velcro fastenings. Velcro is highly recommended because you can adjust the fastening in case your cat loses hair along the way.

  • After finalizing the template of your cat’s harness, place it on top of the fabric of your choice. Cut out the template onto the fabric.

  • Speaking of the fabric, choose one that’s breathable and lightweight so that your cat will be comfy when you put on the harness on her. It’s also up to you to choose the color of the fabric although you may want to use bright neon fabric for added safety.

  • Sew the pieces together. Use a needle for sewing thicker fabrics. It is also advisable to adjust the sewing machine to large zigzag stitch to better hold the pieces.

  • Sew a piece of the one-inch strapping at the middle of the harness. Stop halfway so you can slip the D ring over the strap. Sew it in place before stitching the rest of the strap.

  • To further strengthen the harness, sew the double-sided tape around the edges.

  • Sew the Velcro strips on the left side of the harness straps. Turn the harness over then stitch the Velcro strips to the Velcro-free straps.

  • You can now try this on your cat. Make sure that the harness is secured with the Velcro but still has enough space for two of your fingers to slid underneath each circle.

#3: Pullover, No-Sew Harness

tabby cat wearing no-sew harness

Now if you don’t know how to sew, don’t fret because you can still make a pullover cat harness. But before we get to the step-by-step guide, please prepare these materials first:

  • Ribbon or braid—the length and width would largely depend on the side of the cat. Look for one that has enough texture and body but not too stiff for your pet

  • A pair of scissors

  • Side cutters

  • Bent wire (about 100 mm long)

  • A pair of hair elastics without metal or plastic clasp

  • A couple of split rings made of metal like steel or nickel

  • Vinyl tubing

Here’s how to do it:

  • Take the cat’s measurement by wrapping the ribbon or braid all away around her ribs, just right behind her forelegs. Again, make sure that you are leaving enough space for two of your fingers to fit between the fur and the tape.

  • Loop the ribbon through the split rings.

  • Using the tips of the side cutter, make a couple of small slits in the side of the vinyl tube. The cuts should be at the most 1/3 of the tube perimeter.

  • Using the bent-wire, pull one end of the ribbon into one end of the vinyl tube and through one of the slits you have cut.

  • Pull the wire back so that it would pull the ribbon’s end into the edge of the vinyl tube and out through the incision.

  • Once the end of the ribbon is through the vinyl tube, you must tie an overhand knot in the edge of the ribbon to prevent it from being pulled out.

  • Loop the other end of the ribbon through the other side of the vinyl tube. Make a knot to the end to prevent it from pulling out. By this time, you should have a big hook with a couple of leash-links and the ends conjoined by a cord-stop.

  • You may also dab nail polish on the ends of the ribbon to prevent it from unraveling. But be sure to let it dry before you put the harness on the cat.

  • Loop a hair elastic into a partially assembled harness, just between the leash links and the vinyl tube. Twist it numerous times to tighten it and prevent it from sliding around easily just in case your cat rubs it against the wall.

  • Get the second hair elastic and do the same to it. This means that the leash links will be trapped by the two hair elastics.

  • You now have a DIY pullover cat harness. To use this on your cat, form a couple of big loops with the hair elastics close together. You can also fiddle with the ribbon for the loops to remain of the same size.

  • Open up those big loops then slide them over your pet’s head.

Wrap Up

orange cat walking with a harness

In summary, a cat harness is an essential accessory for your cat especially when she goes outdoors. With a cat harness, you can ensure her safety and minimize the chances of injuries when she goes out for a walk or a hike.

You can always make a cat harness for your cat with the use of simple materials. Whether you plan to make a DIY cat harness made of paracord, a jacket-style harness, or a pullover, no-sew cat harness, the bottom line is that you can save some money while ensuring the safety of your beloved feline friend.

Let us know how your DIY project went! Was your cat pleased with the results? Do you have any other great DIY ideas? Please share them with us in the comments section below! Next, you should learn how to make a DIY cardboard house for your cat to play in.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.

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