The 10 Best Life Jackets for Cats

It is no secret that cats do not enjoy the water. However, there may be a day where you want to take your feline friend with you on a boat or along for some other water-related activity so that they do not have to be stuck at home alone. But how are you to know which life jackets are best for your cat so that you can keep them safe?

Life jackets are important for cats because they may not be good swimmers, regardless of what is typical of the breed of cat you own. Even if your cat is a good swimmer, it is always a good idea to take extra precautions when venturing into deeper waters. This article will provide recommendations for the best life jackets for cats, as well as considerations you should keep in mind when buying your cat a life jacket. 

10 Best Life Jackets for Cats 

Here are ten great suggestions for safe and comfortable life jackets that will allow your cat to have the time of its life on the water with you. 

  1. PawsAbroad Neoprene Life Jacket: This life jacket comes in multiple bright, easy-to-see colors and has reflective strips for ultimate visibility. It also has a handle on the top so that you can rescue your kitty in their time of need with minimal discomfort. The mesh underbelly dries quickly and keeps your cat cool while reducing chaffing.
  2. Pawaboo Life Jacket: This jacket is made with a double neoprene and mesh lining to keep your cat safe, secure, and afloat. It also includes adjustable straps to help you fit the jacket snugly to your cats and a nylon rescue handle to pull them out of water in an emergency.
  3. Vivaglory Dog Life Jackets: This brand of life jacket comes in four bright neon colors so that you can see your cat well at all times. It is made of neoprene, which is comfortable, durable, and keeps the jacket sleek. There are also extra buoyant layers to keep your cat afloat. It fastens under the belly to keep your cat secure and features adjustable straps.
  4. Outward Hound Granby Splash Life Jacket: Sized by the girth, length, and width of your pet, this jacket is brightly colored, reflective, and includes head support to help them stay above water. It is also made of ripstop material for maximum buoyancy and proper movement. It also includes grab handles to rescue your pet if necessary.
  5. Ruffwear Float Coat Pet Life Jacket: This jacket includes foam panels to help your cat swim easily, and the neck closure can be adjusted to fit all sizes and secured with straps and buckles. The webbed material helps the jacket stay durable after being wet, and it includes a reflective trim for visibility in low light.
  6. Hurtta Pet Savior Pet Floatation Device: This life jacket has a size chart based on your pet’s size. It is made of a durable, waterproof, and light polyester fabric that allows your cat to move freely in the water. The belly strap secures the vest well on your cat and prevents the jacket from slipping off. 
  7. EzyDog Doggy Floatation Device: This jacket has 50% more floatation material than most on the market to ensure your cat stays above water. It also includes a grab handle, adjustable neoprene straps for the right fit, and reflective details etched in the brightly colored fabric for optimal visibility.
  8. Kurgo Surf n Turf Dog Life Jacket: A cool thing about this jacket is that it can also be used as a raincoat if you take out the floatation material on the inside. It is brightly colored, made of durable nylon, and has two grab handles you can use to rescue your cat in an emergency. It also includes a reflective trim and D rings to attach a leash.
  9. Playapup Dog Life Jacket: This life jacket features many bright and bold colors and patterns, a neoprene cover, EVA foam filling for buoyancy, mesh for breathability, and neck support in case your cat needs extra help keep their head above water. It also has reflective pieces throughout, adjustable straps, and a secure buckle closure. 
  10. Margaritaville Land Shark Pet Life Vest: This jacket is made of durable nylon and has a built-in zipper so that you can easily slip it off your cat. There are also adjustable ladder locks and a secure buckle so that you can achieve the best possible fit, as well as a nylon handle in case your cat needs a rescue.

These vests include all, or most of, the best features for pet life jackets, so no matter which you choose, you will not be making a poor choice. As always, select the jacket that best fits the lifestyle you have with your cat, as well as meets both of your needs.

Do Cats Really Need to Wear a Life Jacket?

Cats can actually swim without a life jacket. However, it is always better for them to wear one than not because they may get fatigued when swimming or may not be used to swimming and need help to stay afloat if they end up in the water.

Also, wearing a life jacket or other floatation device can help your cat derive greater enjoyment from swimming because they are not stressed over what would happen if they were to stop paddling.

Are There Life Jackets Specifically for Cats?

As you may have noticed, the above list mentions life jackets specific to dogs; with that said, you may be wondering if there are similar items for cats. 

Several sources have stated that there are no life jackets explicitly made for cats. There are only general pet or dog life jackets. However, even though cat life jackets are virtually non-existent because cats and water are not a good mix, dog or pet versions can serve their purpose and still keep your cat safe.

With this in mind, below is some really useful information you can use when shopping for a life jacket for your cat, including what the fit should be like, must-have features, and more. By the end, you will have a good grasp of what to look for.

How to Choose the Best Life Jacket for Your Cat

Below will be everything you need to know before purchasing a life jacket for your cat. This way, you can make the most informed and educated purchase possible. After all, a life jacket is no good if it does not support your cat.

Fitting Your Cat for a Life Jacket

A life jacket should fit just right; if it is too loose, they can slip out of it while they are in the water, which defeats the purpose of the lifejacket in the first place and prevents them from swimming effectively.

If the life jacket is too tight, your cat will be uncomfortable and struggle to move. They could panic if they feel trapped inside the jacket too, which opens a door for otherwise preventable injuries to take place.

It is important to remember that cats have a smaller build and frame than dogs, so use the sizing chart provided by the brand you choose and ensure that the jacket is nice and snug before taking it home. 

Measurements you should take as part of the fitting process include:

  • Chest: Measure around your cat’s chest, including the part that is the widest.
  • Length: Measure from your cat’s neck, down their back to just before the start of their tail.
  • Weight: Take your cat’s weight as well to ensure you get a jacket that can properly support their weight and keep them floating.

Fit is just one part of making the right life jacket purchase. The next section covers some of the most important features that should be considered with any pet life jacket.

Features to Look for in a Cat Life Jacket

These are some of the other components you should be on the lookout for when buying a life jacket for your cat.

  • Emergency handle: These allow you to grab your cat and pull them to safety in the event of an emergency. They should be placed between the shoulder area for maximum leverage and made of a strong and solid material so that it does not break off.
  • Fabric and weight: The life jacket should be made of a durable yet light material so that it can hold up to impact with the water, yet keep your cat comfortable and prevent them from sinking.
  • Straps: If a life jacket has straps, it becomes much easier to get your cat in and out of the life jacket. However, if the straps come loose, they could become tangled in your cat’s paws while they are swimming and trap them. Thus, it is necessary to ensure that all straps are secure after use.
  • Bright colors and reflective tape: Make your cat more visible to you and others in case they were to get stuck or lost while out with you.
  • Neck float or chin pad: This is an optional addition that helps your cat keep their head above water at all times.

All of these features will make sure your cat has the most enjoyable experience on the water with you and or your family and friends. Now that you know more about the features and availability of life jackets for cats, let’s learn how to properly put the jacket on your cat so that they are comfortable.

How to Put a Life Jacket on Your Cat

There are four easy steps to putting a life jacket on your cat and adjusting it properly to their body. 

  1. Make sure that all the straps and buckles are loose and undone. 
  2. Adjust the proper position of the vest on your cat’s body.
  3. Attach the neck clip so that the jacket is secure around your cat’s neck.
  4. Tighten and adjust the fit via the strap until it is snug and in place, but will not restrict your cat when they start to move. 

An important part of making sure your cat can wear and be safe in a life jacket is that they accept the piece of equipment and trust that it will not hurt them. The next section explains how you can train your cat to accept and wear a life jacket.

How to Train Your Cat to Wear a Life Jacket

It is not a normal phenomenon for cats to wear pieces of clothing because their hair coat provides them all of the protection they need for everyday life. However, the life jacket helps keep them safe while on the water, so it is important that your cat is accustomed to wearing this piece of equipment if they have never had things on their body before.

These are the steps you will need to take to help your cat accept and wear a life jacket comfortably:

  • Start by introducing it at home: Place the life jacket near your cat and reward them with a treat each time they sniff it or interact with it in other ways. Your cat will eventually know that the jacket is a good thing rather than something they should fear.
  • Give your cat time to practice wearing it around the house: Start with a period of a few minutes and extend the time until they are used to wearing the jacket for several hours at once, giving them a treat after you have slipped it off to conclude each session.
  • Have them wear the life jacket on a brief boat trip: The first time your cat wears the jacket on a boat, the water should be shallow and calm so that they can adjust to the sensation of rocking. If they get through the trip without any trouble, give them a treat so that they remember wearing the jacket is positive.
  • Start swim testing: Encourage your cat to swim with the jacket on in a safe place such as your bathtub, and work your way up to shallow and then deeper bodies of water. Introducing them to swimming this way reduces any fear they may have about swimming. Always remember rewards when your cat has done well.

The key to training your cat to wear and use a life jacket safely and comfortably is that you, the owner and trainer, are consistent and patient. This means ensuring that your cat wears their life jacket on every water outing and not losing your temper when they fuss while wearing it. Your cat needs the time and space to learn that the jacket is not scary.

Final Considerations About Life Jackets for Cats 

The following are some valuable points you should consider when life jacket shopping for your cat. As with any other purchase or investment, you owe it to yourself and, in this case, your feline, to be as informed as possible.

  • Regarding the actual safety of life jackets for your cats or other pets you might take out with you, it is noteworthy to mention that there are no safety or design standards in place for them like there are for humans. This is because they are simply regarded as flotation and retrieval devices in the event of an emergency and are not often used.
  • Pets come in multiple shapes and sizes, just as people do, so it would be wise for pet clothing manufacturers, pet enthusiasts, and influential names in the pet industry to collaborate to put these guidelines together.
  • As mentioned above, a life jacket will help your cat—or any other pet you bring out on the water—stay afloat while swimming if they run out of energy to paddle and are tired. Some jackets even have a leash attachment to tug your pet closer to you or back to the boat should they get tired. 
  • Avoid any jackets that are big and bulky because they will prevent your cat from swimming properly. Small jackets that have a good amount of buoyancy to them work just as well, if not better than bigger jackets. These tips will assist you in choosing the safest jacket possible.

Final Thoughts

Cat life jackets help your feline friend get the most out of their aquatic adventure while giving owners peace of mind. The best life jackets on the market sport bright colors, reflective trim, or other high visibility elements, one or more emergency grab handles, and fabric that is waterproof as well as light and unrestricting.

Remember that cats are not accustomed to wearing clothes, so it is vital that any new equipment that will make contact with their skin and hair is introduced gradually and that the cat is given ample time to understand that it is not a threat. Consistency and patience in training are vital to achieving the best results and ensuring your cat stays safe in the water. 

There is a lot to be desired in terms of cat-specific life jackets, but it is comforting to know that manufacturers are doing their best to make safety equipment that can be used by a majority of pets.

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