Training Your Cat to Use Their Cat Backpack for Adventuring

A cat backpack is a great tool to have in your kit for catexploring.

And like any tool used while exploring with your cat, you need to train your cat to use the backpack.

The first step is to pick the right backpack for you. This handy tool makes it easy for you to pick the right one.

When it comes to training your cat to use their pet backpack, there are different methods that you can follow.

Your overall aim is to highlight to your cat that their backpack is a safe space that they can use while you are out and about.

Each cat is different and may take to their backpack at different speeds and you may need to trial a few methods.

And as with anything when it comes to cat training, consistency and patience are key.

We asked the Catexplorer Community about how they trained their cats to use their cat backpack for adventuring.

When to Train Your Cat

It is easier to train your cat when they are young. However, this does not mean that older kitties can’t learn new tricks. It may just take a little longer.

We also suggest starting backpack training soon after you start harness training your cat.

Positive Reinforcement to Train Your Cat

Cats react to positive reinforcement – that is rewarding your cat when they exhibit a positive behaviour. In the case of backpack training, the positive behaviour would be using their backpack.

The rewards you use really depends on your cat and what they enjoy. Treats are very useful for food motivated cats. Other cats love playing with toys. You can even use clicker training to encourage your cat to use their backpack.

The aim of positive reinforcement is to associate your cat’s backpack with something positive.

Using Treats to Make Your Cat’s Backpack a Happy Place

If your cat is food motivated, treats are a great way to encourage them to like this backpack.

  1. Open up the backpack in an area that your cat frequents, like your living room.

  2. Place a few of their treats in the backpack.

  3. Your cat will go into the backpack to retrieve them. If they do this while you are watching, we recommend giving them a lot of verbal praise too, like saying “Good girl/boy”.

  4. Once your cat is starting to feel comfortable going into the bag, start closing it slightly with smaller increments and reward them with treats.

  5. Once your cat is comfortable with being inside the bag, all closed up, carry the backpack on your front and walk around inside your home. Remember to reward them with treats.

  6. Once they are comfortable with this, transition to wearing the backpack on your back.

  7. Now you can start taking your cat outside. We suggest starting small in a controlled area and then slowly transition to areas with more stimuli.

Using Play and Toys to Encourage Your Cat to Use their Pet Backpack

  1. Open up the backpack in an area that your cat frequents, like your living room.

  2. Put their favourite toys in the backpack and encourage your cat to sniff them.

  3. Use wand toys to encourage your cat to jump inside their backpack. If they do this while you are watching, we recommend giving them a lot of verbal praise too, like saying “Good girl/boy”.

  4. Once your cat is starting to feel comfortable going into the bag, start closing it slightly with smaller increments and keep playing with them.

  5. Once your cat is comfortable with being inside the bag, all closed up, carry the backpack on your front and walk around inside your home.

  6. Once they are comfortable with this, transition to wearing the backpack on your back.

  7. Now you can start taking your cat outside. We suggest starting small in a controlled area and then slowly transition to areas with more stimuli.

Teach Your Cat that Backpack = Fun Adventures

You can teach your cat to understand that their backpack = fun outside.

To do this ensure that your cat only leaves the house while in their backpack. This also helps ensure that their kitty does not run out the door, which may result in an unsafe situation.

Many kitties may not enjoy using their backpack while inside the house. However, once you start using it outside your cat will realise that it is the way they can have fun outside while having a safe spot.

Many kitties do not enjoy being in a zipped up backpack (because hey, who wants to feel claustrophobic?). Your cat may prefer to travel with their backpack open. Most cat backpacks have a zip that you can keep open and a tether than ensures your cat is connected to their backpack.

Training Once Your Cat Likes Their Backpack

Once your kitty starts to like to get into their backpack, it doesn’t mean that their training is over.

Reducing Restlessness

There is a chance that you cat may feel restless while in their backpack.

As a result, you may have to continue to reassure your cat while they are in their backpack. One way to do this is to ensure that there is a human (known to your cat) behind you while you are wearing the backpack. This way your cat can see a friendly face.

Most backpacks have a flap that can be opened, which allows your cat to poke out of the flap. When you feel it is safe to, you can open this flap so that your cat can look out and watch the world. When you do this, make sure your cat is either clipped into their backpack or their leash (which you are holding).

Safe Space

We recommend ensuring that your cat’s backpack is their safe space while you are out and about, walking your cat on a harness and leash. That is, it is where they can go if they get scared, tired or cranky (because hey, we all get cranky sometimes!).

Unfortunately, this may not be something you can train. It is a confidence that comes with time. However, it helps to ensure that your cat knows that their backpack is available for them to jump in at any time.

Swaying

Due to how we walk, a backpack on our back may sway. Some cats may not enjoy this motion.

If this is your cat, you may be able to wear the backpack as a front pack. This will not only reduce the swaying motion, but also enable you to keep an eye on your kitty.

Impatience

Your cat can get impatient and want to jump out of their backpack before it is safe. Over time, you can create a routine which tells your cat that it is safe to jump out. For example, slowing down and placing their backpack on the ground, attaching their leash to their harness and disconnecting the backpack tether.

Home Time

Many kitties really do not want to head home at the end of their adventure. And we get it! Who wants to end all the fun?

In saying that sometimes we have to go home, and it may be challenging to get your cat back into their backpack. Over time, kitties may get better at entering their pet backpack on their own, but initially you may have to encourage them.

Your cat may not initially appreciate entering the backpack headfirst. To combat this you can scoop your cat’s legs and tail so that they enter the backpack bum first (rather than head first).

Introducing Your Cat to a New Backpack

As your kitty grows or as your catexploring evolved, you may need to upgrade your backpack.

Even if your kitty is comfortable with their existing backpack, don’t be disheartened if you need to re-train them to use a new backpack.

Think about it this way – if you drove an automatic car for a very long time, and then purchase a manual car, it is likely that you will have to remind/train yourself on how to drive the manual car.

To make the process a bit more comfortable you can place comforting items in the new backpack, like a comfort blanket or a piece of your clothing.