Cat Harness vs Dog Harness: What’s the Difference?

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If you have decided to leash train your cat, then even the smallest amount of research will show you that there is an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to harnessing options. There are specially made cat harnesses, pet harnesses to fit dogs and cats, and small dog harnesses that can work for cats too.

As it is less common to harness a cat than a dog, the market reflects this, and there are a lot fewer options if you look at a cat harness vs dog harness. The question is, does it matter if you buy a dog harness for your cat? They both look the same, right?

We decided to take a closer look to find out the answer once and for all. What are the differences between cat and dog harnesses?

Cat Harness vs Dog Harness

We looked at hundreds of harnesses in stores and online to try to work out what the main differences were when it came to cat harness vs dog harness. We considered the harness size, fabrics, weight, ease of use, and special features available that applied to each harness, as well as the effects it would potentially have on a cat.


The most obvious difference to point out is the size difference. The average dog harness will always be much larger than the average cat harness. Size matters when you’re buying a harness.

If you have a large cat, you may be forced to look at small dog harnesses to find one that fits. Similarly, if you have a small cat or kitten, then you may be forced to buy a cat harness specifically to find one that is small enough for your cat’s needs.

You should also consider the width of the harness between the front legs, especially if you’re looking at H-type harnesses. On dog harnesses, this front section can sometimes be too wide for your cat to be able to move about properly.

cat harness vs dog harness


The materials used in the manufacturing of the harnesses were pretty similar. Both cat and dog harnesses had a good selection of breathable, soft fabrics available. They also come in a lot of cute designs.


One thing we noticed was that, on the whole, cat harnesses were often more lightweight than dog harnesses. Cats are generally lighter and more agile creatures, so we feel that a lighter harness will be much more comfortable and suitable for them.

However, some dog harnesses are ultra-lightweight too, so you shouldn’t rule out a dog harness as an option for your cat; just make sure to look for a more lightweight option.

Ease of Use

One of the major differences between harnessing a dog and a cat is that a cat will take a lot more training to get used to it. Feeling even the slightest pressure on their back or sides at first will alert them to something being wrong. It will take time to get your cat used to it before you even think about taking him out for a walk in it.

We found that the majority of cat harnesses have taken their inspiration from dog harnesses, and they are generally worn and put on in the same ways. You get step-in, over-the-head, figure eight, and H-type harnesses, some of which are easier to put on than others.

Of course, the ease of putting a harness on isn’t the same for a cat as it is for a dog. If your cat isn’t comfortable with the process, then any one of these designs could be impossible to put on and use.

Special Features

Some of the special features we found and liked for cats are as follows:

  • Double D Loops

We liked the harnesses that had a D loop on each side to attach the leash to. This offers better control of your cat on the leash as each side of the harness is pulled snug to their body when you pull on the leash.

We felt that this would make it harder for our cat to wriggle free and escape when scared until we were able to grab hold of him and pick him up. This feature is available on both dog and cat harnesses when you look for it.

  • Escape-Proof Jackets

Some harnesses that are specially made for cats are like little jackets that cover much more of their body than the average harness. These are great if you are really worried about your cat escaping in emergency situations, but you shouldn’t buy one if your cat wriggles out of their harness because they don’t like it.

If your cat doesn’t like being harnessed, then you should consider further training options, or get over it. Your cat will not be walked. Escape-proof jackets are available for dogs too, but they are harder to find in cat sizes and won’t fit as well. Hence, if you want this feature, then you should buy a cat-specific harness.


When it comes to choosing between a cat harness and a dog harness, there aren’t really many differences. As long as the harness you choose fits your cat well, looks comfortable on, allows easy movement, and does what you want it to, what does it matter if it’s labeled for cats or dogs?

If you want an escape-proof style jacket, then you will have to narrow down your search to cat harnesses. Apart from that, you’ll have a lot more variety to choose from if you also consider small dog harnesses in your search for the perfect cat harness.

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Cat Lady G - August 28, 2019 Reply

Great article. I look forward to reading more on this site. Of course, we offer several Cat specific varieties of harnesses on our site. We invite your readers to check them out!

    Purr Paws - September 4, 2019 Reply

    Thank you. We’re glad you enjoyed the article.

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