Hiking With a Cat: The Top Tips to Know

Hiking With a Cat

Hundreds of people have started taking their cats with them on outdoor adventures. In order to keep their kitties active and fit, these owners have found the best ways to go hiking with a cat! Dogs aren’t the only animals that love to go on adventures!

If you’re a cat owner, you may be wondering if your own feline is an adventure cat. Even if your pet has spent the majority of their life indoors up to this point, they may benefit from regular hikes!

However, taking your cat hiking can’t be a spur-of-the-moment decision. There’s a lot of training and preparation that should be done before even picking a trail.

In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about hiking with your cat. When done right, regular outdoor time can transform your kitty. Make sure you do it right!

Why You Should Take Your Cat Hiking

Many people have been espousing the benefits of taking your cat on walks. Letting your cat go outside on a harness is a great source of exercise! Supervising them the whole time also ensures they don’t wreak havoc on the local ecosystem.

Allowing your cat to get regular exercise will lead to numerous health benefits. It will boost their metabolism and encourage weight loss. This leads to a more regular appetite and better health overall!

Walking and exercising your cat can also help to reduce behavioral issues. Cats need a lot of stimulation and get bored easily; when they’re bored, they act out. Giving your kitty time to run and play may extinguish any bad behavior!

Tips to Know Before Hiking With a Cat

You can’t just decide one day to pack your cat into the car and transport them to your favorite trail. Even the most easygoing felines will raise loud objections, likely to be accompanied by claws!

Your cat will have to get used to each component of the hike separately. This means gradually exposing them to the gear you’ll be using, the long car rides, and then the outdoors. Make sure you’re receptive to how your kitty reacts to each step; not every feline is meant to be an adventure cat!

To ensure that you can kitty both have the best hiking experience, take a few steps beforehand. Go into each adventure prepared.

Don’t Force It

We want to state this upfront: not all cats are going to like going outside. Your kitty may be too anxious about all the new sounds and smells. An older kitty who’s spent most of his life indoors will likely not adapt well.

That said, even the most skittish cats can end up enjoying hikes and outdoor time. Introduce your cat to the outdoors in small doses and judge their reaction. If they hiss and puff up the moment you step over the threshold, don’t fight it: take them back inside.

Let your cat move at their own pace, and don’t force it if it isn’t working. They may explore the outdoors of their own accord after regular exposure. But you know how cats are: you can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do!

This also means not taking your cat on hikes if they’re clearly not in the mood. Even if you’ve taken kitty on the trail before, if they protest to the harness or the car, just let them go. Using force will sour the experience for them next time!

Make Sure Kitty is Cool With Car Rides

If your cat only associates car rides with going to the vet, they’ll be in a bad mood before you even take them on the trail. Once your cat is comfortable with their harness and leash, get them comfortable with the car.

Take kitty on a couple of practice car rides where he gets showered with treats and affection. Go to a friend’s house he’s familiar with, or just drive around the block! But give him lots of comfort and affection; after a few rides, he’ll associate the car with good feelings and not just the vet!

This way, your cat will be relaxed and calm by the time you get to the trail. They won’t have car anxiety and “new place” anxiety colliding! This ensures a calm hike.

Train Them Beforehand

Even if you plan to carry your kitty for most of the hike, they’ll need to be on a harness and leash. Since cats usually only have to deal with a collar, they’ll need some training to wear a leash.

Start with gentle exposure. Let kitty sniff and paw at the leash and harness before even attempting to put it on. Place it near her other comfort items, so she becomes more familiar with it.

Your first walks with a harness and leash should take place indoors. This way your feline is only experiencing one new thing at a time. Once she’s comfortable with the leash and harness, take her outside!

Keep Up With Their Shots

There are a lot of things that can cling to your cat while you’re hiking. Fleas, ticks, and worms are everywhere while you’re hiking. If your kitty walks most of the trail, they may pick up burrs and pests that go unnoticed.

You don’t want to come home and find out kitty has been infected! This can lead to expensive treatment bills and prevent you from hiking again for a long time. Give your cat a good brushing and wipe down after each hike, but also keep their vaccines up to date.

Consult with your veterinarian on what shots your kitty will need before being able to go outside regularly. They’ll be able to tell you how to keep up with boosters and whatnot. Protecting your pet’s health is vital when introducing them to new environments!

Find Cat-Friendly Trails

Unfortunately, not all hiking trails allow you to go hiking with pets. Some trails are too dangerous for small animals to accompany you—birds of prey and other predators pose a significant risk. Some trails have the opposite problem and want to ensure cats don’t overhunt smaller species. Either way, if you’re caught bringing your cat onto a trail that prohibits pets, you can get slapped with a hefty fine. You know the hiker’s adage: leave no trace. On some trails, cats leave a larger trace than you may think! You can check this database to find a cat-friendly trail near you. For the most part, if cats are not outright prohibited, you’ll be fine. But always check to make sure!

What to Bring on Your Hike

Luckily, taking your cat on a hike with you requires you to invest more time than money. Training your cat to be comfortable with a harness and long car rides could be a slow process! But there are a few pieces of essential gear you’ll need as well. It won’t be difficult to incorporate these materials into your human hiking gear. You may even find that these end up helpful to bring along! You can find all of this gear right here on Meowa. We offer the highest-quality materials to let you train your adventure cat. In just one shopping trip you can be totally ready to take your feline on hikes!

1. Snug-Fitting Harness

This is the first thing you should purchase if you’re planning to take your cat outside. Unlike dogs, cats require a harness that also goes around their shoulders and upper ribcage. These harnesses prevent your cat from slipping out and escaping!

The harness should fit snugly against your cat’s body. If you’re unsure what size your cat would fit, try to trend smaller. The harnesses will likely stretch somewhat while on your cat.

If your harness is too loose on the cat, they pose the chance of slipping out and escaping. This is the last thing you want to happen while on the trail! Check out this guide to fitting a cat harness to make sure you’re doing it correctly.

2. Cat Carrier Backpack

Cats feel safer when they are higher up and have a better vantage point. The first few times you take your cat hiking, he may not be alright with staying low to the ground. This is where a cat carrying backpack for hiking comes in.

You’ve probably seen those trendy bubble backpacks online, where your cat can peek out of a clear bubble to the outer world. The cat stays zipped inside the backpack, but has a great view of everything going on!

There are also simpler, more utilitarian models of cat carrying backpacks. Some models have sturdy tops so kitty can sit atop while you hike. Which style of backpack you choose is up to you!

These backpacks that can hold your cat inside are great for beginner adventure cats. Felines feel safer in small spaces when anxious, and you may find that they’ll stay in the backpack for most of the first hike or two. But it will help them get used to going on a trail and exploring with you!

3. Collapsible Food and Water Bowls

Your cat is going to get hungry and thirsty. Don’t be caught off-guard! Pack extra water for the two of you to share, and bring some of their favorite wet or dry food as well.

Unfortunately, due to the way cats drink water, spraying a water bottle into your pet’s mouth isn’t going to be sufficient. She’ll need a bowl or similar dispenser to allow her to fully hydrate.

Whether you give your cat wet or dry food, serve it in its own container. Leave no trace by not leaving any cat food behind. Portable food and water containers prevent this from being an issue!

Give your cat regular chances to eat and drink along the trail. Especially if it’s a warm day, your kitty may be thirstier than you realize. Keep an eye on the signs of dehydration as well!

What to Expect on the Trail

Now that you know how to prepare your cat and what gear you’ll need, here’s what to expect when you finally take your cat on the road. Once you’re out of the car and on the trail, your cat may show signs of skittishness. There are a lot of sights and smells to take in at once; give him room to explore!

Lead your cat gently to the trail. Don’t pull or yank on the harness and leash, or they’ll come to associate it with discomfort. Be prepared to move slowly as your cat gets used to the new environment.

Don’t hesitate to pick up your cat at the sign of any potential harm. This includes birds overhead, dogs (even on leashes!), and children on the trail. Anything that could spook your cat into bolting away should be treated with caution!

Don’t be surprised if your cat wants to be held or carried for portions of the hike. They’ll look to you for comfort while in a new environment!

But by this point, your training and foresight should pay off. You’ve got an adventure cat!

Take Kitty to New Heights!

We hope this article taught you everything you wanted to know about hiking with a cat. With a few pieces of specialty gear and some light training, you and your kitty are ready to go on adventures.  Create memories that you’ll cherish forever by taking your cat along.

Now that you’re ready to take your cat outdoors, look through our outdoor cat gear. We’re dedicated to providing high-quality carriers, harnesses, and other materials to suit your adventure cat. Start by checking out this trendy bubble carrier!

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