Are you planning on introducing your feline family member to the fun of outdoor travel? Whether you’re planning on hiking with your cat or spending some time at your favourite campsite, there are some ‘must-have’ items on your gear list. Not the least of which is a reliable leash. But, with so many options on the market you may be asking: What leashes are best for cats when hiking?
In this article, we’re going to look at the different leash types and lengths that you can choose from including the pros and cons of each. We’ll also share our go-to leash for our cats and why we prefer it over all other options.
Dog-friendly hikers, check out our leash recommendations for your pup.
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Do Cats Tolerate Leashes?
Before digging into the best leash for cats, let’s address one of the most common questions that we are asked when discussing hiking with a cat – Will my cat tolerate being on a leash? The truth is that almost every cat will come around to the concept of wearing a leash and harness if it is introduced slowly and with plenty of positive reinforcement.
To begin, start introducing the leash to your cat at home. This is a familiar space, reducing some of the anxiety from a new experience. Praise your cat and provide her with plenty of her favourite treats. This will help to show her that good things come when the leash is put on.
When you can tell that your cat is comfortable on a leash at home, then you can start branching out to new locations. Start small, taking your cat out in the yard or going for a short walk just down the road. You can then move on to quieter park areas or local trails. Try to avoid large crowds in the beginning. Too much noise and excitement can stress your cat out and fast!
Most importantly, trust your cat to set the pace. Pay attention to her body language. The goal is to push her just out of her comfort zone enough to try something new without stressing her out. If you notice that she is anxious or upset, don’t hesitate to call a trip short. As her comfort level grows, you will be able to extend your time.
Is It Cruel to Walk a Cat on a Leash?
There are both supporters of walking a cat on a leash and those who feel that it’s not the best idea. The most important thing to consider is whether you are taking the time to allow your cat to adjust. If you put the leash and harness on your cat and immediately take them to a new and unfamiliar location, it can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Your cat may even try to escape resulting in an injury or a lost cat if she is able to slip out of her harness.
The first time you introduce a leash and harness, do so in the safety of your home. Slowly work up to wearing the leash and harness comfortably before introducing new locations and experiences.
Keeping your cat on a leash while exploring the outside world is a much safer alternative to allowing your cat to roam freely. It allows you to keep an eye on your cat, protecting her from dangers such as local predators and busy roadways. This opens the door for both you and your cat to enjoy your outdoor adventures.
What Kind of Leash is Best for Cats?
Now that we have established that introducing a walking leash for cats is a great way to enjoy a safe outdoor adventure, we return to the original question of this article – What leashes are best for cats when hiking? The answer is that it depends on your personal preference. There are several options available, and each has its own pros and cons.
Nylon leashes are lightweight and low-cost. They are readily available at any pet store and can be purchased in a wide variety of different colors and lengths. However, these leashes tend to collect dirt, grime, and smells from being outdoors. Even with regular washing, they often stain or pick up smells that simply won’t fully go away.
Bungee leashes are similar to nylon leashes with a little extra buffer for excitable or high-energy cats. If your cat spots a squirrel and suddenly takes off, the stretchy nature of a bungee leash will minimize the jolt they feel when they reach the end of the leash. But they are also susceptible to dirt and smells.
In our opinion, the best cat leashes are those that are made from Biothane. This is a nylon leash with a special waterproof coating. Not only are these leashes great for wet weather, but they are also stink-proof and can be wiped clean with a wet cloth. Like traditional nylon collars, they are also available in a wide variety of different colours and lengths.
We purchase all of our Biothane collars and leashes from KittyCatGo, a great small business dedicated to empowering adventure cats. Use our discount code to take 10% off your order: THEKASPACK10
How Long Should a Cat Leash Be?
In addition to wondering about what leashes are best for cats when hiking, you may find yourself confused by the different lengths that are available. How long should your cat’s leash be?
When you walk a cat on a leash, you want to ensure that the leash is long enough for her to comfortably walk without it pulling on her harness. If you are going to be spending time on the hiking trails, as we do often with Pippen, you may want a slightly longer leash to allow her to explore. At the same time, you want to be sure that you have enough control to keep your cat safe in the event of an emergency.
Some outdoor adventurers prefer to use a cat retractable leash. This allows them to give their cat a little more slack where it’s appropriate while also having the ability to lock the leash at a chosen length. However, some cats are scared by the sounds that the leash makes.
We prefer using a 6-foot leash for hiking. We have found that this length is the perfect balance between freedom and safety.
In your opinion, what leashes are best for cats when hiking? We would love to hear about your favourite gear in the comments!