Soft, stylish and safe, this colorful DIY cat harness is the cat’s meow!
Now that spring’s here, your kitty may want to go outside to enjoy the sunshine and feel the new grass under his paws. One way to safely allow him to explore the great outdoors is by putting a harness and leash on him and taking him for strolls. You can buy harnesses designed to fi t cats, but if you’re feeling creative, you can also make one.
The lightweight harnesses I sew for our Persians resemble a vest. They support the cats’ chests and don’t put any pressure on their necks. They fit well and curve comfortably to fi t their bodies.
What you’ll need
Fabric in your choice of color or pattern*
1” D-ring for leash attachment
¾ ”x4” strip of Velcro for neck fastening
1½”x 5” strip of Velcro for waist fastening ¼”or ½” double-sided bias tape for edge finishing
1” strapping for the back of the harness
*Be sure to choose a breathable, lightweight fabric that’s not too heavy or hot, but that also isn’t slippery or stretchy. You want something that will hold its shape and that your cat won’t be able to slide out of. Canvas works well because it holds the D-ring securely in place; as well, the ring won’t pull or distort canvas the way it could with stretchier fabrics. Color choices are up to you, but I use bright neon hues for extra safety.
1. Measure around your cat’s neck and midsection, making sure not to go either too tight or too loose – you should be able to comfortably fit two fingers between the measuring tape and the cat’s body.
2. Design and create a sample pattern that fits your cat; use an old T-shirt from your “rag bag” to get the right size before making the actual harness. You can find patterns on the Internet or in pattern books to use as a model, or see the photo shown here for what the harness will look like after it’s cut out. Extend the “H” arms at a gentle angle so they will wrap around the cat and overlap. Some overlap allows room for the Velcro fastenings – the advantage of using Velcro is that as your cats loses his winter coat, you can adjust the fastening for an exact safe fi t that he cannot wriggle out of. Once you have a properly-sized template of your harness, cut it out onto your chosen fabric.
3. When sewing the harness, use a needle specifically for thicker fabrics. Adjust your sewing machine to a medium to large zigzag stitch for stronger holding properties. Note: when sewing in the “D” ring and Velcro, remember to overdo the stitching to secure them place. You do not want anything pulling or unraveling.
4. Sew a piece of 1” strapping down the center of the harness back. Stop halfway and slip the “D” ring over the strap and sew in place securely before stitching the rest of the strap down. You don’t want the ring to pull out if the cat strains on his leash.
5. Sew the double-sided bias tape around the edges of the entire harness. This strengthens it by preventing it from fraying.
6. On the left “arms” of the harness straps at the neck and waist, sew the hooked Velcro strips (¾ ”x4” strip for the neck, 1½”x5” for the midriff).
7. Flip the harness over and sew the looped Velcro strips to the straps that are Velcro-free.
8. If you wish, embellish the harness. Place bows, buttons, lace or rhinestones down the center strap.
The next step is to get your cat accustomed to wearing it. We have tried many other types of harness, but our cats love these.