How to Choose a Hiking Trail for Adventures with Your Cat

Including your feline friend in your outdoor travel plans is a great way to build your bond and make last memories together. But what makes a cat-friendly hiking trail? Are there specific aspects of a trail that you should consider when hiking with cats?

Today we will explain how to choose a hiking trail suitable for your adventure cat.

cat hiking in the forest | How to Choose a Hiking Trail for Adventures with Your Cat

Do Cats Like Going on Adventures?

The most common question when people see us hiking with Pippen and Jinx is, “Do they even enjoy being out here?”

Cats are naturally curious creatures, meaning that they love exploring their surroundings. We often embrace this concept indoors with cat trees, shelving, and other enrichment elements.

But why not embrace this same curiosity outdoors by taking your cat hiking?

While we disagree with allowing cats to wander freely outdoors for many reasons (the studies speak for themselves), we love the idea of allowing your cats to explore responsibly – using a harness and a leash. After all, who wouldn’t want to include their furry best friend in their travel plans?

Can You Train Any Cat to Be an Adventure Cat?

Will your cat enjoy going on adventures? That depends… Not every cat has a personality suited for outdoor travel.

Take a moment to consider your cat’s personality seriously. If your cat is confident, social, inquisitive, and open to new situations, you may have an adventure cat on your hands!

Do you have a cat interested in spending time outdoors but only partially on board with your various adventures? That’s okay too! There are different levels of adventure that your cat may enjoy.

Miss Pippen LOVES all things outdoors. She hikes on a leash, just like our dogs.

She is also super interested in water as of late, happily walking in shallow ponds and the puppy pool. We’re excited to follow her lead and see just how far she’s interested in taking her water fascination.

Meanwhile, Jinx is on the other end of the adventure cat spectrum. While she loves sunbathing at the campsite, her idea of hiking involves being carried in her backpack. She’s a proud Diva demanding the treatment she feels she deserves, and that’s the white glove treatment!

6 Tips to Choose a Hiking Trail with Your Cat in Mind

If you have an adventure cat in your family, one of the biggest challenges is determining how to choose a hiking trail suited to their needs. While there are many places to hike available, your cat has unique needs when it comes to enjoying a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable hike.

Rather than searching “best places to go hiking near me” on Google, start with these tips for identifying a cat-friendly trail:

Do Your Research in Advance

Several hiking trail websites and phone apps will provide you with a wealth of information about the trails in your area. While they may not be pet-specific, they are a great place to start.

We start our trail search with the AllTrails+ app.

The AllTrails app, both free and AllTrails+, will provide you with a wealth of information about any trail you are considering, including real-time reviews, trail conditions, and more. Plus, you can use the app to navigate while on the trail and track your adventures.

Other places to find information about the trails you are considering include your local tourism information site, location-specific websites, blogs, and social media accounts created by travel lovers (like us).

Make Sure the Trail is Pet-Friendly

Trail reviews and information don’t generally specify whether they are cat friendly. This is mainly because adventure cats are still a growing phenomenon. Although, we believe it’s only up from here!

A good rule of thumb to follow as a cat-friendly traveller is to apply the rules for doggy hikers.

If dogs aren’t welcome on a trail, your kitty companion likely isn’t either. When reading trail information, we automatically substitute “dog-friendly” for “pet-friendly” and go from there.

Make sure to read all information included. Some locations state that dogs are welcome, but cats are not permitted (like Ontario Parks Roofed Accommodations). While we haven’t seen this applied to trails specifically, there is always a chance it could happen.

cat rubbing against tree branch | How to Choose a Hiking Trail for Adventures with Your Cat

Pay Attention to Trail Difficulty

Most trail apps/websites will offer a scale of trail difficulty. For Ontario Parks, trails are labelled as Easy, Moderate or Difficult.

If your cat will be hiking the trail (versus being carried in a backpack the whole way), you will need to consider the trail difficulty they can navigate safely. For Miss Pippen, we stick to Easy or Moderate hiking trails.

This will involve understanding what dictates a trail’s difficulty rating on each site, as there is no universally accepted rating system. A moderate trail on one site may be a difficult trail on another.

Be Realistic About Trail Distance

Of course, we can’t talk about how to choose a hiking trail without touching on the importance of trail distance.

If you are experienced at hiking with a cat, then you know that they aren’t generally focused on completing the trial in the shortest time possible. Instead, cats love exploring, investigating the area, and taking their time.

This style of hiking can quickly turn a 1-hour trail into a 3-hour adventure if they are allowed to explore to their heart’s content!

When planning a hiking adventure with our cats, we try to stick to shorter trails so that we don’t feel pressured to rush Pippen or deny her the chance to enjoy her experience.  

Cat parents travelling with a senior cat should pay careful attention to this, as they may be working with added challenges in terms of mobility.

Avoid Overly Popular Trails

Often, hikers see a popular trail as a sign of a great trail or view. But popular trails may present a unique challenge for cat-friendly travellers.

Trails with high traffic levels often also see a higher number of canine hikers at any given time.

While hiking dogs aren’t necessarily a risk, a higher number of dogs on the trail increases the risk that you will run into off-leash dogs. This raises concerns for a cat’s safety when encountering their fellow hikers.

Check Weather Conditions & Trail Conditions

This may not seem like something to consider when you choose a hiking trail. After all, the weather is a given at any location. But the weather conditions can have a lasting impact on a trail.

Several days of rain in a row can leave a trail muddy and washed out. For our smaller hiking companions, this may present a significant challenge.

Check the weather conditions for your planned trip, then look back on the weather in the days leading up to your hike. If you notice that it has been overly wet, you may want to do a little additional research on its impact on the trail conditions.

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Are you experienced in how to choose a hiking trail for your cat? If so, we would love to hear about what factors you consider when selecting a location for your adventures.

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