Have you ever considered bringing your feline family member along for your outdoor adventures? If so, you’re not alone! A growing number of cats are taking up the adventure cat lifestyle, exploring the world and looking adorable doing it. But can cats go hiking? With a little training and preparation, these furry travel buddies are a great choice to accompany you on your local trails.
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How Do You Introduce a Cat to Hiking?
Visiting the trails for the first time can be overwhelming for your cat. It’s a whole new experience with new sounds, smells, and surroundings. For this reason, it’s important to introduce your cat slowly, giving her the opportunity to build confidence.
When taking a cat hiking for the first time, choose a smaller trail that is closer to home. Know your cat and what triggers her stress and anxiety. For example, if she isn’t comfortable in larger groups of people, avoid heavily trafficked trails where she is likely going to be around lots of other hikers. If she dislikes being around water, try to find a trail that doesn’t incorporate any rivers, streams, or bodies of water. These are all factors you can introduce later.
Before heading out, make sure that your cat is comfortable in her harness (see below). After all, safety is always the top concern! You should also make sure that she’s up to date on her flea and tick treatment, and that the information on her identification tags is up to date.
On the trail, give your cat a chance to explore at her own pace. Don’t expect to set any records on speed when navigating the trails. Instead, focus on your shared experience together. This is a great bonding opportunity!
Make sure to always bring plenty of fresh water for both you and your cat. One easy way to do this is by freezing water bottles to throw in your pack. As they thaw through the day, you’ll have plenty of fresh, cold water waiting for you. You should also pack some snacks or food for longer hikes. While your cat can handle a 15 min hike without needing to eat, longer hikes may need a little fuel along the way.
Finally, don’t forget the importance of the Leave No Trace principles. This means packing out all your trash including your cat’s waste! This can be done by carrying a collapsible litter box to use when she needs to go or training your cat to go outdoors like a dog would and picking it up with poop bags.
How Do You Introduce a Cat Harness?
Before making plans to head out hiking with your cat, you need to make sure that she’s comfortable wearing her harness. The best way to do this is to start introducing the harness at home where she is most comfortable.
As you first put the harness on your cat, offer high-value treats. This will help her to create a positive association with it, making it easier to get her to put it on next time. If you notice that she is anxious or upset putting it on the first time, don’t rush it. Step back and give her a moment to relax before trying again. It could take several attempts before she’s comfortable enough to put it on fully, and that’s okay!
When the harness is on, give her lots of praise and belly rubs. Allow her to wear the harness while going about her usual daily routine. This includes eating her meals, playing, and snuggling on the couch. You can also hook a hiking-friendly leash to her harness and allow her to drag it around the house to get used to it. When the time comes to hit the trails, wearing her harness will no longer be a stressful experience.
Can You Take Cats on Walks in a Backpack?
Many cats enjoy walking on a leash, but there are situations where it may not be feasible. Can you take a cat hiking on an all-day adventure or across challenging terrains? Can cats go camping even if they aren’t comfortable walking on a leash? These are examples of times when a cat hiking backpack really shines.
Cat backpacks are carriers that can be worn on your back, leaving your hands free. They allow for significant ventilation with mesh panels and air holes, and a window of some type so that your cat can see her surroundings. Many are often expandable, giving your cat more room to hang out when you take a break along the way.
The use of a backpack can also be beneficial in terms of your cat’s safety. They provide a secure place for your cat to be kept up and out of reach if you encounter unleashed dogs on the trail. It is also a great option in the event of an emergency, allowing you to easily carry your furry friend to safety.
Even if you don’t plan on using your cat’s backpack, it’s always a great option to bring it along just in case.
Returning to the original question, can cats go hiking? Yes! We encourage every outdoor-loving cat parent to consider including their furry family member in their travel plans.
Have you ever tried hiking with your cat? If so, what advice do you have for newer cat hikers?