Tips and Tricks for Hiking with Cats
Cat lovers that love spending time outdoors may be wondering, is it safe to go hiking with cats? Yes! Not only is hiking with cats safe, but it’s also a great way to bond with your best friend. Before you hit the trails, there are a few things to consider to make sure that your next trip is both safe and enjoyable. In this guide, we’re going to share our tips and tricks for a successful hiking trip with your cat.
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Do Cats Enjoy Hiking?
You may be surprised to learn that most cats love getting out and exploring the outdoors. It’s an opportunity to tap into their natural instincts. Hiking is a great way to provide both physical activity and mental stimulation, both of which are necessary for a happy, healthy life.
Some cats will embrace the harness and spending time outdoors right away. But many are unsure or even anxious about the harness and leash at first. Don’t give up on your cat if she isn’t comfortable right away. Take time to slowly introduce this gear. You may also need to be open to switching your hiking harness of choice if your cat isn’t comfortable in it. The process of finding the best harness involves a bit of trial and error, but it’s worth it when you find the right fit.
Another challenge that you may face is your cat’s fear of the unknown. New sounds, smells, and sights can be overwhelming at first. Start small by exploring your backyard or a nearby park before working up to more adventurous hiking trips like multi-day backpacking and tent camping or exploring trails with waterfalls and other new and exciting features.
But you should also be aware that not all cats are adventure cats. For some cats, hiking is a stressful experience that they aren’t going to be comfortable engaging in. It’s no different than the fact that some people honestly don’t like outdoor travel. If you start introducing it slowly with small experiences and notice that your cat isn’t adapting to the idea, it may not be her idea of a good time.
Can I Take My Cat to the Woods?
The woods can be a fun place for your cat to explore. However, there are also some risks to consider. Make sure that you have a secure harness, and that your cat is comfortable in it. This will keep your cat from bolting if she is spooked. Try to choose a peaceful trail with fewer hikers to keep from overwhelming her. Instead, this will give her time to explore her surroundings at her own pace.
Pay attention to any nearby wildlife. While most animals won’t approach with you there, there have been reports of hawks and coyotes targeting cats and small dogs in some areas even when that pet is on a leash and near their people.
If at any time you are concerned about your cat’s safety while out exploring, pick her up. You can hold her until the danger passes or put her safely in a cat backpack where she is contained and away from any threats.
How Do You Take a Cat on a Day Trip Comfortably?
Taking your cat on a full day trip hiking can be done, but there are some important things to consider in terms of keeping her comfortable. This includes some basic cat hiking gear to address her needs throughout the day.
For a full-day trip, you will need to carry not only enough water for your cat but also food for her meals. Try to stick to a normal daily routine, feeding her around the same time that you would at home. The easiest way that we find to do this is to pack small pre-portioned meals in sealed-Tupperware style containers. Choose shallow-sided containers and they can double as a bowl. When your cat’s done, seal them up and toss them in your pack – no mess until you get home to clean them.
You will likely need more than one bottle of water to keep up with both your needs and your cats throughout the day, especially if there are high temperatures to contend with. Consider freezing a couple of extra water bottles to throw in your pack. As the day goes on, the ice will melt giving you access to fresh, cold water even hours after you’ve left home.
There are two different ways you can approach your cat’s need to go to the bathroom. Some cat owners choose to train their cats to go to the bathroom outdoors just like a dog would. In this case, you will need to bring a roll of doggy poop backs to clean up after your cat. The other option is to pack a portable litter box and lightweight litter so that you can set up a litter station periodically for your cat to use. Make sure that any waste removed from the litter box is bagged up and taken with you to dispose of properly.
Finally, you should make sure that you have a comfortable place for your cat to relax. A full day of hiking is a lot on little cat legs. You can offer a break by sitting down on the side of the trail with her for a while or by carrying her for a period while she rests. There are cat backpacks for hiking available that will allow you to comfortably carry her on your back, freeing your hands and giving her a comfortable place to lie down. You can also make her nap time more comfortable by bringing along a cozy blanket.
Can You Backpack with a Cat?
For outdoor lovers that enjoy backpacking, the answer is yes. If your cat is comfortable hiking and tent camping, she can join you on your backcountry adventures. But there are a few challenges that you will need to overcome when backpacking with a cat.
There are some pet backpacks that are constructed with space to carry your cat as well as storage space for your gear. But the storage space is generally limited due to the amount of space needed for your cat to travel comfortably. The other option is to purchase a pet carrier that can be adjusted to be carried on the front of your body. This will allow you to carry a full standard hiking pack on your back with the pet backpack on the front for your cat’s much-needed breaks.
Bring enough food for your trip with some extra. You never know when your trip may be extended slightly due to unforeseen circumstances, and you don’t want to find yourself stuck in the wilderness without food for your cat. To ensure that you have enough water for both you and your cat, consider investing in a water filtration system.
If you are concerned about having an enclosure for your cat to sleep in at night, consider using an expandable cat backpack. This can be placed in the tent next to you with a comfortable blanket at the bottom to create a comfortable area to serve as your cat’s portable bedroom.
Do Cats Get Hot in Cat Backpacks?
When selecting a cat backpack, make sure that you are choosing an option that has appropriate ventilation for your cat. This is often accomplished using air holes and mesh panels. The goal is to keep your cat secured while also allowing her to feel the breeze while you’re out and about. This is why a standard backpack isn’t good enough.
Unfortunately, during the hot summer months, even the best cat backpack for hiking is going to heat up quickly. If you plan on heading out with your cat for a longer hiking trip, try to plan it during the cooler spring and fall months. In the heart of the summer season, it’s best to stick to short day trips during the cooler evening hours or early in the morning.
How Do You Hike with Two Cats (or More)?
Do you have 2 or more cats that you would like to bring with you on your adventures? Hiking with cats is even more fun when the whole family is involved, but it also introduces a few added challenges. The first thing to take note of is how many people are going to be present. If you have 2 cats and 2 people, there really is no change. Each of you can walk a cat, and each of you can carry a cat backpack for when a rest is needed. But, if the cats outnumber the people that they accompany, you may need to think outside the box a little.
Cats can be taught to walk on leash side by side without getting too tangled but be prepared for the occasional stop to untangle leashes. Especially if you have a cat that likes to wander all over the trail to check out the smells like our sweet Pippen.
In terms of backpacks, you have a few options. First, if your cats get along well you could train them to ride in the same backpack together. Choose a larger backpack and start with short trips, slowly working up the time that they are in there together. If keeping them together in an enclosed space like that isn’t going to work, there are double cat backpacks that offer 2 separate spaces. Finally, if you want to keep the size of your cat backpack down, you can try alternating where your cats are. Walk one cat while the other naps in the carrier.
Tips for Safely Hiking with Cats
There are many dangers waiting for your cat when heading out onto the trails. While this shouldn’t stop you from bringing your cat hiking, you do need to be prepared. This could make the difference between a fun, enjoyable trip with your cat or a rush trip to the nearest emergency vet. Here are a few common risks that you should be familiar with and how you should prepare to react as needed for the safety and well-being of your cat.
Keeping Your Cat Tick-Free
The growing risk of tick problems poses danger for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, but they also pose a serious risk for your cat. These parasites survive by feeding off hosts like your cats. But their bites aren’t only uncomfortable, they can also transmit some serious diseases. Cats are at risk of Lyme Disease, Hemobartonellosis, Cytauxzoonosis, and Tularemia. Some of these diseases are even fatal.
Luckily, not every tick bite will transmit a tick-borne illness. That being said, the best thing that you can do for your cat is to use a reliable tick preventative and prevent the risk entirely. Always check your cat over carefully for ticks after being outdoors.
Cats and Wildlife
There are many natural predators that could pose a threat to your cat. Depending on where you live, you may need to be on alert for venomous snakes, mountain lions, coyotes, hawks, or other wildlife in the area that sees your cat as easy prey. Even being on a leash and by your side, a starving animal may be willing to take the chance and approach when tempted with the opportunity for a meal. Stay vigilant while you are out, keeping an eye on your surroundings. When in doubt, keep your cat secured safely in their cat backpack until you feel it is okay to let her out on leash once again.
Encountering Dogs on the Trails
A major concern for many cat owners when hiking with cats is the risk of running into dogs on the trails. Especially dogs that are off-leash or those that aren’t friendly towards cats. The best thing that you can do to keep your cat safe is to be aware and proactive. If you see a dog up ahead on the trail coming in your direction, pick your cat up. Whether she is being held in your arms or resting in her backpack, she is much safer until the danger passes.
Wilderness First Aid Tips
Before you head out on an adventure with your cat, you need to take some time to familiarize yourself with the basics of wilderness first aid. This includes how to treat cuts and burns, taking care of any bug bites that your cat may suffer on the way, or addressing heat-related illnesses. You will also need to be able to address the more serious medical emergencies that you may encounter until you can get them to the nearest emergency veterinarian.
We highly recommend taking a pet first aid course. Contact your veterinarian to ask for recommendations of courses running in your area.
Cat Hiking Essentials
If you’re currently making a packing list for your next adventure hiking with cats, there are a few items that you can’t forget. This is the gear that will provide for your cat’s most basic needs. Of course, there are a lot of options to choose from. To help you get started, we have put together a list of our must-have cat hiking gear.
PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash
If you plan on hiking with your cat, one of the most important pieces of gear is their harness. You want to choose an option that is both comfortable, allowing your cat to move freely, as well as secure. After all, no one wants their cat to get loose while outdoors in the wilderness. For our cats, the solution has been the minimalistic design of the PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness. We have been using this harness for a few years now and never needed to replace them. They are durable, reliable, and come in some fun colours for those who want to allow your cat to rock a harness with style.
KittyCatGo Convertible/Hands-Free Kylo Leash
One of the big struggles when spending time outdoors with a cat is the clean-up afterward. Especially if it’s a wet, muddy day. That is where this leash really shines. Made from waterproof and stink-proof biothane, The Kylo Leash from KittyCatGo can easily be wiped clean with a wet cloth making clean-up a breeze. They are durable and available in a wide variety of fun colours. Plus, the convertible design can be used as a normal leash or worn conveniently as a waist leash or cross-body leash.
Kurgo Gourd 2 in 1 Dog Travel Water Bottle
When you’re spending time outdoors on the trails, it’s important to make sure that you always have fresh, cold water on hand for both you and your cat. The beauty of the Kurgo Gourd 2 in 1 Dog Travel Water Bottle is that it can be used for both you and your cat eliminating the need for 2 separate water bottles. The main bottle features a standard easy-slide nozzle, allowing you to either drink from the bottle yourself or pour water into the detachable travel bowl.
EassyHoo Travel Litter Box for Cats
Unless your cat has been trained to go to the bathroom outdoors, a litter box is an important addition to your gear when you’re out and about. Of course, you don’t want to be carrying a big, bulky box when you’re spending time out on the trails. The EassyHoo Tavel Litter Box folds up into a lightweight and compact 3.5” x 7.1” x 3.5” pack size, making it easy to slip into your day pack. It’s made from durable materials with a waterproof inner liner to prevent unwelcome leaks when in use.
Do you enjoy hiking with cats? If so, we invite you to share any advice for newer hikers interested in bringing their feline friends along for the adventure!