Does hiking with your cat seem strange? Well, it shouldn’t be. Hiking is essential to both you and your cat, and they also make the best adventure companions. Other than letting your feline friend snuggle indoors, add some excitement to their life by teaching them to explore nature with you.
It may not be how you want at first, but that’s fine. Your cat will take some time to get used to hiking, and it will be worth the patience. If this doesn’t feel like something you would do yet, let’s look at some of the benefits of hiking with your cat:
- Hiking offers them a fun and healthy experience since they get to exercise and stimulate their minds
- Cats have superior senses and can warn you of what lies ahead keeping you safe while outdoors
- They are great buddies and will keep you company throughout
- They will help you slow down and experience nature in a way you can't by yourself
- Outdoor activities can bring out traits in your cat you are not aware of
- Eases injury pains for some cats
What should you consider before hiking with your cat?
Have the right gear
Nature can be harsh, and you should be prepared. First, ensure your cat is on a leash, be in your hiking boots and carry along a first-aid kit. Choose a harness with thick fabric panels to keep your cat from wiggling out of it. If your cat has light-colored fur, she may need sun protection, and also ensure their coat is right for the weather.
Other important accessories to carry when heading into the woods by yourself are a map and a compass. They come in handy when you want to know where you are and which direction you should be heading. Don’t just carry them though, ensure you know how to read both of them.
See also the recommendations for choosing the right cat hiking backpack.
Be aware of outdoor threats
The hiking trail you are headed for may have some threats to cats such as dogs, mountain lions, and parasites such as fleas, ticks, and worms. Keep your eyes open for any dangers and ensure your cat is vaccinated.
Let your cat get used to the idea of walking on a leash before taking it out in the open. You may want to let them walk around the house or your yard on-leash or take them to a nearby park. Once they get used to the idea of a harness and leash, you can comfortably take them outdoors.
Also, train your cat to communicate with you. Let your pet know they should come to you when you call them. Ensure your cat will come to you when they hear your voice in case something happens out in the woods.
How old is your cat?
Your cat’s age is important when taking them out hiking. Keep older cats and those with medical conditions on easy terrain and for short distances. Get your cat used to adventuring when they are still young so that they enjoy it and they also learn faster when at this stage. Remember not to let kittens climb too high or walk too far since their bodies are still developing.
Ensure your cat has a collar with a visible identification card, a microchip or bright colored clothes with your details somewhere. Your details should include your name, address and phone number just in case something happens to your cat when you are out hiking.
Know your trail
Know the guidelines of the hiking trail beforehand. Some trails allow cats off-leash, others on-leash, while others don’t at all. Watch out for regulations for dogs as they will apply to your cat too. Also, knowing what kind of track you will be on helps you plan accordingly. You will know where you have large obstacles and water crossings that could be an issue for your cat.
How is the weather?
There is no fun in getting rained on when out in the woods. Neither you nor your cat needs this. Avoid hiking if there is some signs or prediction of rain.
On the trail
Now that you know what you need before hiking, let’s look at some things you should do while on the trail;
Keep them on leash and harness
Your cat is prone to a lot of dangers when out hiking. Have your cat on a leash and harness to keep them from poisonous plants, and predators such as eagles and hawks, among other threats.
Pick your cat up
You will have to carry your cat a lot so be prepared. In as much as your feline friend could be fit and love hiking, they will often get tired when hiking. Also, when you notice a threat coming, pick them up since they will feel safer that way. You can get a cat pack to help you carry them when they are too tired to walk on their own.
Take snacks and water breaks
Bring along enough water for you and your cat. Do not let them drink from water sources you may come across when hiking.
Also, take breaks and treat both you and your cat to some snacks to keep both of you energetic.
Stay on the trail
Both you and your cat should stay on the marked track. Avoiding going off-trail keeps you from toxic plants, getting lost and threatening nature. Also, do not let your cat loose, as they will disturb the wildlife.
Leave no trace
It is not only courteous but also environment-friendly not to leave any trace behind when you are out hiking. Ensure you pack all your trash before leaving and carry a litter box for your cat.
You are not the only person using the track, so make room for other hikers. Be kind and pull your cat to the side to allow other hikers to pass by whether they have pets or not. It is also important not to let your cat wander off and approach other cats on the trail. Some pet owners do not want your cat playing around them, and this is safe for your cat too.
Let your cat have fun, see places and explore nature. Getting them off of the cozy couch will not be easy, but once they start enjoying adventuring, hiking will be nothing short of fun for the both of you. So, are you ready to take your cat outdoors for their first hike?