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My grumpy old man cat, Shadow, is terrified of the outdoor world and he runs to his favourite corner whenever the door is opened. My new baby kitten, Simba, is a much more adventurous little fellow and seems determined to run out the door every time it opens. I was given a traditional cat harness when Shadow was small but he absolutely hated it, I tried it on Simba but it was too big. I decided to buy a smaller harness for Simba so that he could go out into the garden and explore under our close supervision until he gets bigger and I am more confident about letting him out alone.
Cat harnesses may seem like an odd concept to some, after all cats are known for their independent streak and unlike dogs go where they please. There are a number of different models on the market, the traditional ones are made of nylon and are a nightmare to put on. I bought the figure of 8 shaped Ancol harness from Ebay for just £5 but I have seen similar models retailing for up to £15. I chose the small size and for a 3 month kitten it is slightly too big and I need to use a safety pin to hold it on Simba tightly.
The harness is easier to put on than the traditional nylon harness since you just need to slip the cats legs into the holes and then tighten the clip at the top. How easy the job is will depend very much on your cat's personality, Shadow is a laid back cat who will let us do anything to him without a fuss but Simba is feisty and struggles so it can be a hassle to get the harness on him.
Once the harness is in place it fits him well, the soft fabric body of the harness supports him under his chest and he has plenty of room around his legs without restricting his movement at all. The fabric is breathable and he doesn't seem to get too hot when wearing it on sunny days, he is perfectly happy with his harness on and doesn't try to wriggle out of it and runs around happily wearing it.
The harness uses a metal clip to fasten it and this is the one weak point of the harness as I can't pull it tight enough for Simba's little body thus having to use a safety pin to make sure the harness is fully secure on him. The leash attached is around a meter long, of course cats do not walk with you on command like a dog will but I have found the handle loop to be just the right size for placing over a fence post. The leash also has a metal bit around half way up with a ball inside connecting the two halves of the leash which means that the leash is less likely to get tangled as the cat runs around however you should still supervise the animal as they can still get themselves caught up in the leash. The fact that the cats body takes the weight from the leash if you pull it instead of the neck makes it far safer than using a leash attached to a cat collar.
Because of the metal clips the harness is washable by hand only but it dries quickly because of how small it is.
I'm happy with my Ancol cat harness and Simba seems to enjoy wearing it too and it keeps him out of mischief on his first outings so it is a win win product which could do with a couple of design tweaks to make it perfect.