Trail hikes and sidewalk strolls have long been the exclusive domain of owners and dogs. Not anymore! There has been an increase in interest in cat owners taking their friends out for adventures lately, which has led to the creation of a group of Adventure Cat. These cats have been acclimated to harness, lead, and backpack excursions with their owners. From casual strolls through town hiking the Appalachian Trail these cats have become almost commonplace on many local paths.
Grace, a local cat, recently went on her first outing as an Adventure Cat. Her owners realized how interested she was in the great outdoors, as well as how calm she was when they took her on supervised, contained mini-walks in their backyard. It wasn’t long before Grace had been fitted with a harness and was being introduced to the lead. Not only did she handle the car ride like a champ; she led the way as her folks hiked an Arkansas trail. When she was tired Grace supervised the outing from her special backpack that allowed her to see everything that was going on.
Turning your cat into an Adventure Cat just doesn’t happen overnight, and is not always possible with every cat. Just like some people, some cats prefer the comfort of a cozy chair to the varied collections of sights and smells and sounds found outside. Your cat should show both an interest in outdoors and a calm, inquisitive nature, rather than being overwhelmed and fearful. You will also want to fit your kitty with a proper harness or walking vest. Never take your cat out with the lead attached only to a collar, as it is too easy for the kitty to slip out. You will need to take short outings in a safe place to get your cat comfortable with the harness.
Once you are ready for your first official outing, consider a quiet, less crowded location than the popular paths. Your cat is going to be dealing with a lot of sensory information, and you don’t want to compound that with other dogs or cats. As your Adventure Cat gains confidence, you can move to other locations. There are many online resources for specific training techniques, as well as checklists to make sure you have everything you need for your cat safe on your adventures.
Here are some basic guidelines for your adventure cat:
- Always use a well-fitting harness or vest. Never let your cat hike off lead or with the lead attached to just a regular collar.
- Bring water and snacks!
- Be prepared to carry your cat. Something may startle your cat or make it wary. Giving them a high perch like your shoulder or the security of a pet backpack will give them a sense of security.
- Be watchful of wildlife. Skunks, snakes, and squirrels can startle or harm an unsuspecting walker.
- Have an appropriate first aid kit. Tweezers for thorn removal, cleaning swabs, and quick stop for bleeding cuts are must-haves for any pet first aid kit.
- At the end of the day, you want your cat to have had an interesting, active and safe day. With preparation, planning, and good Adventure Cat parenting, you both can enjoy the outdoors. But be prepared for a few stares and questions because most people still expect to find a dog on the end of a leash rather than a cat. Who knows, maybe you will inspire someone else to introduce their cat to the world of adventure!