Skip to content

Best Cat Life Jackets to Keep Your Cat Safe in the Water

By Debbie Short     Last Updated October 26, 2019

KittyWire may collect commissions on purchases made from the links on this page.

If you spend a lot of time on the water and you want your cat to come with you, a cat life jacket is a way to keep them safe and secure both on the water and in it. Picking out this life jacket takes research because you want something that is going to keep your cat safe and comfortable, and this is where our reviews come in.

You can compare various quality life jackets for your cat below to get a good feel for what's available. Also, our buyer's guide will give you important criteria to keep in mind when you're shopping to ensure you get the best life jacket possible.

Our Top Picks for the Best Life Jackets for Cats

Why Get a Life Jacket for Your Cat?

Cat in boat waiting for life jacket

Maybe you live or spend a lot of time on the water, or maybe your cat simply enjoys going in the water and swimming as some breeds do. However, larger bodies of water deserve respect because they can be unpredictable, and a life jacket for your cat adds a layer of security.

When your cat has it on, they're more likely to be able to handle waves or deeper water without worrying about trying to keep their head above the water. Life jackets also make it easier for you to keep an eye on your cat in different lighting conditions, and this helps to keep them safe.

How to Introduce Your Cat to Their Life Jacket

You shouldn't just toss the life jacket on your cat and expect them to like it, instead, you want to make it a positive experience. This may take time, but following the steps below gives you a greater chance of success that your cat will at least tolerate their new life jacket.

1. Buy a Life Jacket that Fits

Your life jacket's fit is going to be one of the most important parts of the whole process because having a poor fitting life jacket can increase the risk of accidents. You can use this sizing chart and your cat's measurements as a guideline to find the right fit, but you do want to make sure that you double check all of your measurements.

2. Introduce Your Cat in a Comfortable Space

You want to lay the life jacket in an area where your cat is comfortable and let them explore it. Use treats and praise when you first put it on, and only keep it on for short periods of time until they get used to wearing it. If they get scared, back off and try another day.

3. Take Your Cat Out Wearing Their Life Jacket

If you plan to take your cat on a boat, bring them on the boat when it's still anchored to help reduce movement and prevent overwhelming your cat. Praise them and make it a positive experience until they get used to being in a new environment with their new life jacket.

4. Do a Swim Test

Put the life jacket on your cat and put your cat in shallow water like a tub or small swimming pool to help get them used to the sensation of wearing it in the water. You want to be consistent and go slow so your cat doesn't have a bad experience because this can make them afraid to wear it again. Slowly graduate to a larger body of water, and never leave your cat alone.

What to Consider When Buying a Life Jacket for Your Cat

You don't want to buy any life jacket without looking at a few important points. They can help ensure that you get a durable and comfortable life jacket that fits your cat.

Fit

Arguably one of the most important aspects of your cat's life jacket is how well it fits them all over. Look for a life jacket that is broad enough to go around your cat's chest, long enough to support their belly, and that you can adjust all of the straps to make it snug without being too tight.

Comfort

Your cat should be comfortable when they wear their life jacket, and this means that you want to take a close look at the material and the weight. Ideally, you should get a lightweight life jacket with mesh along the belly to help the life jacket dry faster once your cat is out of the water.

Straps

Your straps are where you'll adjust the life jacket to get a good fit, and these straps should come with quick release buckles on the ends. Ideally, your cat's life jacket should have one or two buckles around the chest and one or two along the belly to help you get a secure fit.

Reflective Strips

Bright colors and reflective strips can help you keep an eye on your cat in all types of lighting conditions. Your reflective strips should be on the sides and back of the life jacket to maximize your cat's visibility.

Safety Handles

Most pet life jackets come with a safety handle sewn into the back of the life jacket that lets you reach down and pick your cat up quickly and easily. Look for a handle that comes with double stitching at the attachment points to ensure that the handle doesn't break.

Top Five Picks for the Best Cat Life Jackets

1. Outward Hound Granby Splash Life Jacket

Outward Hound Pet Life Jacket

Outward Hound's pet life jacket comes in five sizes ranging from extra small to extra large, and you can also pick from three solid colors and one pattered life jacket. It comes with belly buckles and chest straps that help you get a snug and secure fit for your cat.

There is a small rescue handle on the top of the life jacket that lets you pick your cat up quickly and easily if they run into trouble while they wear it. There is also a small lip for your cat to rest their head to keep it above the water when they go into the water.

The bright colors add a high level of visibility to this life jacket, and it also comes with reflective parts that help you keep an eye on your cat. This life jacket for your cat comes designed to be lightweight and comfortable for your cat to move in.

Cat parents who bought this life jacket liked that it had lightweight foam panels that helped to keep their cat's head above water when they wore it. Cat parents did point out that it can be tricky to get a snug fit because the straps are slightly stiff.

Things We Liked
  • Available in five sizes
  • Has reflective piping and a bright color
  • Features a small foam pad to keep your cat's face out of the water
Things We Didn't Like
  • Straps can be difficult to adjust
  • No double stitching around the handle
  • Fitting can be difficult

2. Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jackets

Vivaglory Ripstop Life Jacket

You'll get the choice of seven solid colors or two camouflage patterns when you order this product, and it also comes in five different sizes that ensure you get a secure fit for your cat. The life jacket comes with extra padding throughout that is lightweight and easy for your cat to wear.

Two straps go around your cat's belly, and one goes around your cat's chest to secure them into the life jacket and ensure they don't slip out. There is a padded area between your cat's body and the security straps to make sure that the straps don't rub on your cat when they have it on.

There are two areas of reflective fabric that help this life jacket stand out, and it's coupled with bright color combinations that give you high visibility. The emergency handle has double stitching to attach it to the life jacket for added durability and stability.

People who purchased this life jacket for their cat liked that the bottom of the jacket was a breathable mesh to help keep their cat cool. People who purchased this life jacket for their cat did say the neck opening runs small.

Things We Liked
  • Has double stitching throughout
  • Outfitted with a breathable mesh around the belly
  • Comes in bright colors
Things We Didn't Like
  • Neck area can run small
  • Can leave a lot of exposed velcro
  • Takes a while to break in

3. RUFFWEAR Float Coat Pet Life Jacket

Ruffwear Float Coat Cat Life Jacket

This simple and fun pet life jacket comes in three bright color combinations and six sizes that are great for cats of all sizes. You'll get three strap adjustment points that help you get a secure fit each time you put it on your cat, and it also lets you adjust the life jacket as your cat grows.

The sides have closed-cell foam pads that work to keep your cat upright when they're in the water, and all of this comes covered by water webbing material that is resistant to water. The bright colors, combined with the reflective stripping, makes it easy to see your cat in a variety of light conditions.

You'll get a safety handle built right into the back of the life jacket that lets you pull your cat out of the water if there's an emergency, and there's also a leash clip that you can use out of the water. When you need to wash it, you can simply toss it into the washing machine and hang it out to dry.

Cat parents who bought this item liked that it had a few adjustment points that let them get a snug fit for their cat. Cat parents did say that it is heavier in the front, and this can cause your cat to unbalance.

Things We Liked
  • Emergency handle is built into the back of the life jacket
  • Comes with a leash attachment point
  • Available in very small sizes
Things We Didn't Like
  • Can be front heavy
  • More expensive option
  • Chest strap may loosen by itself

4. Outward Hound Standley Sport Experienced Swimmer Life Jacket

Outward Hound Standley Sport High Performance Life Jacket for Pets

Outward Hound's life jacket comes make out of a durable ripstop material that is rugged enough to withstand years of use without breaking down. There are five size options that ensure you can get a good fit to keep your cat above water.

The light blue and lime green color scheme gives this life jacket a higher visibility in all different light conditions, and you also get reflecting strips running along the back to make it more visible. It has a more open design along the bottom that ensures your cat has a high ease of movement.

The mesh design on the top and bottom of this life jacket helps it to drain and dry much faster than traditional life jackets, and this helps your cat to dry faster when they get out of the water. You get a leash attachment point built in as well to secure your cat when they're out of the water.

Cat parents who bought this life jacket liked that it came with larger mesh areas that helped reduce the weight when it was wet and speed up drying times. Cat parents didn't like the chest area doesn't have any flotation devices.

Things We Liked
  • Has a leash attachment point built in
  • Has a large mesh area to improve drying times
  • Comes with two safety handles
Things We Didn't Like
  • Chest area doesn't have flotation padding
  • Front strap may slip loose
  • Attachment points don't have double stitching

5. Paws Aboard Red Neoprene Life Jacket

Paws Aboard Red Neoprene Life Jacket

This small life jacket from Paws Aboard comes with a bright red construction for high visibility, and this is further enhanced by the reflective stripping that runs along the back of the life jacket. The quick release buckles make it easy to get your cat in and out of the life jacket when they finish using it.

The bottom of the life jacket is a mesh layer that has high breathability, and it also protects your cat from rubbing against the straps. There are three adjustment points that ensure you can fit the life jacket to your cat without a problem.

There is a cloth handle sewn into the back of the life jacket that lets you pick your cat up and out of the water if something were to happen when they're swimming. You'll get a durable leash attachment point that helps you secure your cat when they're out of the water.

People who bought this life jacket to take their cat swimming liked that it came in a neoprene fabric that is very durable and resistant to wear and tear. They did point out that it can take a few tries to get the life jacket secure and snug on their cats.

Things We Liked
  • Made with very bright colors and reflective stripping
  • Bottom is a mesh material for high airflow
  • Comes with three adjustable straps
Things We Didn't Like
  • Only comes in one size
  • May not be long enough for some cats
  • Straps tend to slip and loosen by themselves

What's the Best Life Jacket?

Our top pick for the best cat life jacket is the Outward Hound Granby Splash Life Jacket because it has several sizes that let you find a great fit for your cat. We loved that this life jacket came in both solid color choices or bright patterns for a higher visibility.

The rescue strap was another selling point because it made it easy to grab it and haul your cat out of the water if something happened. Finally, we liked that this life jacket came with a small lip on the front that gave the cat's head more support when they swam.