For many, a hike is a perfect way to relax and decompress. A way to distract from a busy week and get the renewal from time in the outdoors.
However, as a cat owner, you may not realize that it is a real possibility that your cat can accompany you and enjoy the fresh air. Some people find this hard to believe, but there are a lot of cats taking trips into the hills and mountains with their owners. And it’s becoming more common all the time.
And you and your cat could be doing it too!
With just a few simple key steps you’ll start to realize how adventurous cats really are.
But, just in the way that you would not forget water, hiking shoes and other key trail essentials for yourself, the top tips in this article will help you remember what you need to bring for your cat, making your backpacking trip effortless and fun for you and your furry friend.
- A Cat Backpack
Cats love exploring new terrain and new smells, but they don’t have the same stamina that you’ll have or that you might expect.
They’ll often need to be carried and have lots of breaks.
Carrying cats in the great outdoors is difficult without a cat backpack. Your standard cat carrier isn’t going to cut it so you need something that will allow you to continue on your hike without worrying about the well-being of your cat.
A good cat-carrying backpack will mean that your cat can rest whilst you continue along the trail.
It’s important to look for a backpack with plenty of space, and, most importantly, plenty of ventilation.
A backpack that you can open at the top is a must so that getting your cat in and out is easy, and so your cat can poke its head out of the top and take in the surroundings. This allows for more timid cats to feel less claustrophobic.
Additionally, it’s vital to make your cat familiar with the backpack before going on a hike.
You can do this by encouraging them to use it in the comfort of your own home and providing motivation in the form of treats.
Remember, a backpack will provide a safe, cozy space for your cat in case of a sensory overload, an encounter with a dog or simply if they get too tired.
Therefore it is the essential accessory for a hassle-free hike with your cat.
- Training Your Cat – You Will Need A Harness and Leash
Without a doubt, you’re also going to need a cat harness and leash. This will allow your cat to fully enjoy their surroundings when you’re out in the wild.
Also, they can have a bit of freedom without you worrying about them getting lost or overwhelmed.
Having your cat in a harness means that they can also be secured to the backpack when inside it adding security and safety so that they cannot run off and get lost.
In short, you should not let your cat roam free on a hike and they should always be either in the backpack or on the leash. Some may argue but most cats prefer the security and there is always a chase they will run off if not on a leash.
However, before you go on a hike, your cat should be trained to get used to a harness and leash somewhere they feel safe (at home) before you venture out.
Some cats are more accepting of a harness and leash – it all depends on your cat’s personality and what they’re comfortable with.
If you want to take your cat on hikes you should put in the effort to train them on a harness and leash.
The leash should be long enough to allow your cat to explore the surroundings but also short enough to allow you to bring your cat closer to you.
A harness needs to fit your cat perfectly so you should try different harnesses in order to find the perfect one. They come in various different designs with some being simple straps and others encasing your cat’s chest. The key factors are that they must be comfortable and escape-proof.
Read this comprehensive guide to choosing the best cat harness and leash for your cat (with videos of the leading choices) to get a really clear idea of what’s available.
Once your cat has become used to the harness and leash at home, before going on a hike, you should also take your cat for a short walk near your home to ensure everything goes smoothly. Your cat may be alarmed by it all at first, but once they get used to it, it will make your life way easier!
- Food And Water
Hydration is essential on a hike for you and your cat.
Being outdoor can be tiring, especially on hot days and cats are famously poor at drinking even when they need to.
Make sure you have enough water for you and your cat!
Many people choose to bring portable (collapsible) water bowls to allow their cats to drink easily.
It’s recommended to stop fairly often to allow your cat to choose to come out of or go back in the backpack and you can use these stops for water breaks to avoid dehydration and exhaustion.
Your cat will be likely to need food during a hike, so bringing something for them to eat is vital.
Conventional wisdom is that you should not give your cat a big meal before heading out as it can lead to indigestion and maybe even vomiting. Many people wait an hour or so after feeding their cats to go on a hike to avoid this possible issue.
That said, it does make sense to bring along some treats in case you need to give your cat a little boost or to try and get them to do what you want!
Nonetheless, having some food on hand should it be clear that your cat needs to eat is a good idea.
That said, it does also make sense to bring along some treats in case you need to give your cat a little boost or to try and get them to do what you want!
Additionally, other important things to consider are cat sunscreen and a cat first aid kit.
A first aid kit is a common sense and they are widely available. Sunscreen might seem odd!
Sun exposure is often unavoidable on a hike and people imagine that their cat can’t get sunburn or worse, as we often see cats sitting in the sun all day. But they can and it does lead to some very nasty issues.
The obvious thing to do is pop your kitty in the shade of the backpack if the sun is too strong, but there may be occasions where the tips of their ears and their nose can get burnt. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your furry friend, so look into a cat-specific sunscreen.
- Quiet And Cat-Friendly Routes
On your first few hikes with your cat, it’s advisable to opt for a trail where there are minimal distractions and loud noises.
Obviously, a trail where there aren’t many people is optimal, which can be found easily with a quick google search.
It’s also worth checking for cat-friendly trails as some states don’t allow cats on their trails and most require them to be on a leash.
Checking that trails also require dogs to be on leashes is also necessary as it means your cat wont get easily spooked.
After your cat has become acclimatized you can introduce them to busier trails and go on longer hikes.
On hikes, your cat will be exposed to lots of new and exciting things.
However, not all of these things will be safe for your cat.
There’s a risk of your cat picking up diseases and parasites from all the different types of wildlife.
Therefore, you should ensure that your cat is up to date with vaccinations and ask your vet if there are any additional vaccinations that your cat will require.
Also, look out for tics during your hike and thoroughly check your cat for them after!
- Allow Your Cat To Go At Its Own Pace
Hiking with your cat allows for them to experience things they wouldn’t usually and provides enrichment to their lives.
However, keep in mind that it’s a lot for them to process, especially the first few times they go.
This means they may want to go at a slow pace and stop often. There are a lot of things to sniff, and inspect (and maybe scent mark…). Allowing them to do this means they will have a better experience and are more likely to want to go on more hikes.
But, don’t worry. Let them settle into the routine and after the first few hikes, your cat should be comfortable and need less attention and be able to go on longer adventures.
These six tips will help you and your cat on your hiking journey, allowing each time to be easy and enjoyable.
Remember to have fun and not overstress.
Your cat will have fun as they are highly curious and adventurous.
Experts say that walking with your cats allows for you to go at their pace and experience the world through their eyes, stopping to appreciate the surroundings.
Therefore, our most important tip for a hassle-free hike is to relax, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy this time with your cat.
Oh, and if they get a bit grubby out in the wilds we suggest you read these tips on giving your cat a bath!