How to Hike With Your Cat
You love hiking. You love your cat. Did you know that you can combine the two?
And go hiking with your cat!
In fact, hiking is one of the most popular adventures that catexplorers go on. It may seem daunting at first, but it is completely doable.
Before you start hiking with your cat
Understand if your cat is the right candidate to be a catexplorer
A catexplorer is either the cat or the human who explore the world together.
Many kitties are well suited to go exploring with their human but you should check if your kitty is.
If your cat loves the outdoors, dashes to the door or window whenever they can, they’re probably the right candidate. However, if they are scared of the outdoors, and prefer just sleeping on the couch, catexploring may not be the right activity for them.
Train your cat to walk on a harness and leash
Before you take your cat on a hike, teach them to walk on harness & leash. Sign up to the Catexplorer email newsletter to get a free guide on just how to do this! The guide shows you how to start from the beginning and slowly expand your cat’s boundaries.
Train your cat to use a safe space like a cat backpack
While walking your cat on a harness and leash, there is a chance that something may spook them. Perhaps it’s a dog, a branch or even fellow hikers.
To help you cat feel safe, get a safe space for them, like a cat backpack and train them to use it before going hiking.
To help you train your cat, each Catexplorer cat backpack comes with an exclusive training guide and email training support.
The cat backpack is also a great tool for carrying your cat when they become tired of hiking. After all, kitty legs are much shorter than human legs!
Pack your gear
In addition to your cat’s harness & cat backpack, there are a few things you should take with you.
Always make sure that you have enough water for both you and your cat. If it is a hot day or if you are doing a longer hike, don’t rely on sharing a water bottle with your cat. There are a few ways to help your cat stay hydrated which you can find here.
The most common question we get asked about hiking with your cat is “what do we do about kitty litter?” There are some great ideas here, & we always recommend having dog poo bags on hand too! Don’t leave your kitty’s business on the trail (or in a bush) for someone else to find (or pollute the environment).
Where to go hiking with your cat
Prior to going hiking with your cat, do some research to pick a hiking trail.
The first time you go hiking with your cat, do your best to choose a location where there won’t be many things that will spook your cat (or you).
Choose a quiet location, ideally a trail that is not very popular. This way you are less likely to meet other hikers or dogs that may scare your cat.
If you can’t find a quiet trail near you, a great option is to go hiking earlier in the morning or in the evening as it won’t be as busy.
As your cat becomes more confident with hiking, people and other animals, you can start taking them on busier trails.
Cat friendly trails
Check if the trail is pet friendly and particularly cat friendly. Some areas state that no cats are allowed. This can be the rule even if your cat is on a leash as animals that live in the area may be spooked by the smell of your cat (and this can even prevent these animals from reproducing!).
It is also great to only go on trails that require pets to be on a leash. This will help prevent interactions with off leash dogs.
Types of trails
Many kitties prefer trails that are narrower and well defined as they can follow it. They also have a tendency to prefer tighter trails over wide open spaces.
Many local walking or hiking websites have photographs of parts of the trail and this will help you decide if it is appropriate. Just google the name of the trail and these sites should pop up.
Many cats are also scared of running water, so for your first trail, avoid a trail that has rushing water.
As your cat becomes more confident with hiking, you can start introducing them to trails with more challenges like running water or even bridges.
Just like humans, our cats feel the weather and this may impact their hiking experience. While researching the trails, look into the weather too.
On a hot day, favour trails with shade. Also, do your best to avoid windy days as many cats do not enjoy the wind.
How long to go hiking with your cat
As with anything with catexploring, start small and expect to only hike for a shorter distance the first time you hike with your cat.
As your cat becomes more comfortable and you begin to develop a hiking routine, you can increase the amount of time you are on a hike with your cat.
How to train your cat to walk straight on a trail.
Hiking with a cat is slightly different from hiking with humans. There is a chance that they will stop often, smell a bush and even climb a tree.
They help us humans appreciate the little beautiful things in the world.
In saying that, sometimes we do need our kitties to walk without being distracted and it is possible to train your kitty to do this.
How to train your cat to hike with 2 humans
If you have another human hiking with you & your kitty, you can enlist their help to train your cat to walk.
Have one human walking in front of your cat on the trail, while you follow behind your cat while holding the leash.
Think about what normally motivates your cat. Is it food? Treats? Praise? Play?
You can then use these motivators to train your cat to keep walking.
If they love being told that they are a good cat, praise them every time they walk properly.
If they are food or treat motivated, use this to encourage them to walk straight.
And those kitties who love play? Get the human at the front to drag a little stick behind them and encourage you kitty to chase it.
For those kitties who know their name, the human at the front can call them to encourage them to keep walking.
If your cat walks in the wrong direction
Your kitty may get distracted and walk in the opposite direction to where you need to go.
Understandably, this is not ideal! One way to encourage your cat to walk in the right direction is to pick them up and face them in the direction you would like to go.
If they are still insisting on walking in the wrong direction, you may need to carry them (either in your arms or in their cat backpack), for a while.
Think about why your cat may not be hiking as you would like
As our cats can’t always talk to tell us what they are feeling, it is our responsibility to think about what they may be trying to tell us. A cat who typically hikes well may stop doing so as they feel uncomfortable.
Perhaps they start walking towards the bushes or the side of the trail as they need to go to the bathroom.
Or they stop walking as they have become nervous because they have smelled a wild animal.
Or even, they are tired and want to be carried.
Each cat is different and you will learn what the nuances of your cat’s behaviour or body language means as you spend more time hiking together.
Becoming pro hikers
As you and your cat become more confident hiking together, you can try new types of hikes with more variables.
It’s important to remember that each cat is different, some love hiking while others do not.
Each cat has what they are comfortable with. Some are fine with being near running water, while this will scare others. As you hike with your cat, you both will learn each other’s boundaries and keep these in mind.
Just like humans, our kitties have on and off days. Some days your cat will be sprinting down the trail while the next day they will want to stay in their backpack.
But no matter what kind of catexploring you do, just remember to have fun and enjoy seeing your kitty so happy.
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