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That old saying about herding cats applies to measuring them as well. If you are interested in finding a harness, collar, or clothes for your kitty, you want to make sure the item properly fits—but measuring an animal that’s well-known for the ability to squirm, shimmy, and squeeze their way out of just about any situation can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are some good tips and tricks for correctly measuring cats—plus some ideas about how to keep them still while you measure.
What Measurements Should You Take for a Cat?
What cat measurements you need will depend on what you’re searching for, whether that’s a cat harnesses, collar, or clothes. But there are three basics you’ll want to determine: neck size, chest size, and length.
Neck Size: This is the circumference of your cat’s neck, typically taken at the place where a collar would rest. A good rule of thumb when measuring this area is to leave some wiggle room. To do this, insert a finger or two underneath the measuring tape to ensure anything that goes around your cat’s neck will be safe and not too constrictive.
Chest Size: This is the circumference of your kitty’s chest as measured from just behind the shoulders and armpits. This measurement will come in handy for those looking for a cat harness. You want to make sure you have the right fit for your cat’s comfort and safety, especially if you plan to be walking outdoors with your cat.
Length: The length of a cat is measured from the base of the head to the base of the tail, along the kitty’s spine. This measurement is something you might need for clothes or costumes and will be helpful to make sure any feline clothing doesn’t get in the way of the important work that expressive cat tail has to do.
Cat Size Charts
A unique benefit to measuring cats is that their body structures are similar, unlike the rainbow of dog shapes. For cats, size is usually classified in terms of body condition, so it’s helpful to have an understanding of your cat’s shape and weight in addition to their measurements.
If you have a specific product in mind, check online for the brand’s size chart. This can help you figure out the right fit according to your cat’s exact measurements.
One thing to note is that many pet products—including collars, harnesses, and costumes—are not specifically created or tailored to cats. More likely, you’ll find options that also work on dogs, baby goats, and even smaller animals such as rabbits. Having the right measurements will help you navigate size charts that aren’t specifically targeted at cats.
How To Measure Your Cat
Getting an idea of your cat’s weight is a great starting point. Unless you have a tabletop scale, the easiest way to weigh a cat is to stand on an at-home scale and first note your weight, then step back on while holding your cat. Subtracting your weight from the combined weight gives you a rough idea of your cat’s poundage. You can also ask your vet, who will have weighed your cat at their last check-up.
Trying to use a tape measurer on a cat can prove a little more challenging. Some ideas for making the process easier on you and your cat include:
- Use a clothing measuring tape.These are common for measuring people and clothes and can quickly and easily give you some accurate numbers. Don’t use metal or home-focused measuring tapes. Because these aren’t flexible, they won’t give you an accurate reading like a clothing measuring tape will.
- Enlist a helper. An extra set of hands is useful for jotting down measurements and giving scratches.
- Have treats nearby. If your cat loves treats, have some at the ready so they can focus on yums while you focus on the numbers.
- Pick a lazy time of day. Cats sleep a lot, so a quieter time of day when your cat is feeling relaxed may make getting measurements easier.
- Turn it into playtime. After—or even during—the measuring of your kitty, engage in a little game of play to reward them for their patience.
How To Measure Your Cat for a Collar
To get the proper collar size, you’ll want a neck circumference measurement that includes two fingers of space. In general, this measurement will help you choose a collar that will fit snugly on your cat while also being loose enough that it would come away in an emergency. Quick release or breakaway collars are very smart options for cats since they tend to explore their environments a lot, and collars can get caught or snagged on a variety of things.
How To Measure Your Cat for a Harness
The most important measurement for a harness is a cat’s chest girth—this is the area where a harness provides the most support. Many manufacturers suggest adding an inch or two to your cat’s measurements so that harnesses aren’t too restrictive. Neck measurements are also important to ensure a good fit.
If your cat is between sizes on the size chart of the harness you’re interested in, you’ll want to look at the manufacturer’s recommendations on whether to size down or up. Many harnesses are adjustable, which will allow you to do some minor resizing so the fit is spot on.
How To Measure Your Cat for Clothing or Costumes
The best way to measure your kitty for a clothing item depends on the type of wearable. Some cat costumes or clothes may require all of the measurements we’ve discussed, while others may only require one.
An important thing to note is that many costumes for cats will include a headpiece that goes on a kitty’s head and fastens under their chin or around their neck. In these cases, you’ll want to be sure to have a good neck measurement or confirm that the headpiece is fully adjustable for comfort.
Because many cats don’t like having things on their heads, especially if the item covers up their ears, don’t ever fasten a headpiece too tight. Make sure it’s snug enough to stay put but loose enough so that kitty can remove it if they aren’t having it.