I bought a harness and lead for my young cat. The idea was to take him outside safely. He changed when I put it on. He is normally very active in the morning. I put the harness on him and he calms down. It is like someone gave him an injection. I don’t know what is happening.
The harness is a bit like a coat but not as big. I like it because it makes him calmer. In the morning he runs around a lot. I am not sure I like it. He could get hurt. He could damage something.
I am not sure he should wear it as it changes him so much. The change is a bit of a shock to me and strange to see.
Do you know why a harness for a lead changes him so much?
Response from Michael: I hope people comment on this. You have probably heard of the Thundershirt. This a product mainly for dogs but also cats. It calms them down. It is usually bought by dog owners whose dog has anxiety problems or becomes overexcited under certain situations. The general opinion is that is works but not always and, here’s the 64,000 dollar question: How does it work?
It seems to me that the harness you have bought works like a Thundershirt. It wasn’t designed to but it does. So it is triggering something inside your cat.
You say it is as if he has been given an injection. This may indicate that wearing the harness triggers the production of a hormone or a brain chemical of some sort in the cat. It may trigger the production of a certain type of neurotransmitter in the brain.
The manufacturers say the pressure calms the animal. Why? It may trigger an emotional connection to the time when the cat was a kitten being nursed by his mother. The pressure of the harness may create a reassurance in the cat for that reason. It may also cause some confusion because it is a created feeling and not real. In other words it puts the cat out of character for his age.
I also wonder if this reaction will continue or will it wear off? It may. I have not read that the Thundershirt stops working after a while but it might become less effective during long usage.
I’d be interested to know what anyone else has to say on this phenomenon. Update: I believe the cause for the change in personality is a partial kitten response. This is the response cats/kittens make when picked up by the scruff of the neck. This is strange because the harness does not put pressure on the back of the neck.