It's Fun to Hike With Your Cat: How to Get Ready for the Adventure

It's Fun to Hike With Your Cat: How to Get Ready for the Adventure

You don't have to let dog lovers get all the fun and companionship in outdoor pursuits. It can be a lot of fun to take your cat on the trails, too. Seriously, if you invest the time and effort into preparing, cats can have a great time hiking with their humans. 

Start Training Early

If your cat isn't used to a leash or harness, hiking may be a bit of a challenge. If you think you will want to take your cat outdoors, start having him wear a harness around the house so he is used to walking, jumping, and climbing with it on. When you can watch them carefully, clip a leash onto the harness so they can learn how it limits their movements and range. Even if that particular cat doesn't become your trail companion, trips to the pet store or vet can be easier of he is leash trained. 

Use the Right Gear

The right gear can make or break your hike or backpacking trip, and the same rule applies to your cat. Start with the basics, and have your cat microchipped. If he gets away from you or lost, it can help you get reunited more quickly. Make sure any leash, collar, and harness you take has an ID tag attached, too. It is a quick sign to others that the cat is a pet and not feral.

While all cats should be vaccinated, it is especially important for those that go outside. There are plenty of chances for your kitty to get into a tussle with another animal, or simply pick up something from wild animal scat. Have all vaccinations up to date, and keep a copy in your day pack in case there is an incident on the trail. Invest in a high-quality flea and tick preventative so you don't have to worry about him picking up any hitchhikers and bringing them back home. 

Make sure you pack litter bags and are fully prepared to follow the Leave No Trace principles on the trail. A specially-designed cat pack or carrier can make carrying your cat easier if you encounter rough terrain or water, or if he just gets tired and needs a break. 

When you prepare for your trip, keep in mind that cats need to eat and drink on the trail, too. Be sure to pack cat-approved snacks and an extra bottle of water. While it may be tempting to let your cat share your trail mix, you'll want to make sure it is made from people foods cats can eat first. 

Keep An Eye Out for Threats to the Cat's Safety

Cat's are a little more vulnerable than most dogs on the trail. They often don't respond well to commands and are naturally curious, which is a potentially dangerous combination. Cats can find themselves in serious trouble if they jump off a ledge, climb into a small opening, or encounter a predator. Bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes might consider your cat a much easier target than a larger dog. Keep an eye out for hawks and eagles (or owls at night) that can easily scoop up your feline companion. 

Be Prepared to Offer Assistance

Cats are also known for their grooming habits, so it shouldn't come as a surprise if yours wants to stop and clean his paws after a particularly muddy trail. Help him out by carrying him over bigger puddles and water crossings. You will also want to watch for signs your cat has had enough walking for the day. 

In cases when there is more trail than feline energy, you may need to step in and offer help. Have a cat pack that he can rest in while you cover the miles. 

Hiking Is Not on Every Cat's Bucket List

Some cats, like Tuxie from Georgia, love to hike. Yet, it may not be a good fit for your feline friend. Watch your cat's behavior carefully as you start taking him hiking. If there are any signs that this is not a good fit, you should be ready to come up with an alternative hobby the two of you can take up together. 

Once you try it, you will realize that, when you are properly prepared, it's fun to hike with your cat. Make sure it is fun for him, too by following some basic guidelines and common sense rules. 

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