Let's face it, cats are lazy. They'd rather lounge around all day and sleep than get up and move. But that doesn't mean they can't enjoy the great outdoors! With a little preparation (and a lot of patience), you can take your cat hiking with you. Here are some tips to keep them safe (and sane).
Carefully Choose Your Trail
When you're picking a trail, it's important to consider your cat's fitness level and hiking experience. If your cat is a beginner, start with an easy trail with gentle slopes and plenty of stops along the way. You might also want to consider a loop trail so you don't have to backtrack. And if the weather is hot, make sure the trail has plenty of shady spots for your kitty to take a break.
Another important consideration is the environment on the trail. Try to choose a relatively quiet park or trail for your first time out with your cat. Some outdoor environments are just not right for taking your cat on a hike. Busy trails with lots of people walking or jogging may be difficult to navigate with a leashed cat. Plan your hike early in the morning or late in the evening to help avoid crowds and excessive distractions.
Acclimate Your Cat to the Harness
Cats are really slick about working their way out of collars, so a good cat harness designed with wide padded straps is better for ensuring that they can't slip away. You will be able to securely leash to the harness. Most cats will be uncomfortable with harnesses and leashes at first, so you need to gradually get them used to the idea.
You're not going to be able to just put a harness on your cat and head out the door. They need to get used to the feeling of wearing a harness first. Start by letting them wear it around the house for short periods of time, gradually increasing the amount of time they have it on. Once they seem comfortable, you can take them for short walks around the block.
Let Your Cat Set the Pace
Cats are notoriously independent creatures, so it's important to let them set the pace on your hike. If they want to stop and sniff every bush along the trail, that's fine! And if they decide they've had enough after 20 minutes, turn around and head back home. There's no shame in ending your hike early if it means everyone has a good time.
Bring Along Some Toys and Snacks
Hiking is exhausting, so make sure you bring along your cat's favorite toy or blanket. This will help them feel comfortable and relaxed in their new surroundings. And don't forget the snacks! A few of their favorite treats will help keep their energy up when they start to get tired.
Exploring Cat Backpacks
If your cat has trouble adjusting to the harness and leash, you can still enjoy outdoor time together by using a cat backpack. This allows your cat to ride securely on your back and enjoy a great view along the way. This is also better for older cats that might not be in good enough physical shape to do much hiking. In a previous article, we reviewed five of the best cat backpacks - click the button below if you'd like to learn more about them.