People hike for many reasons, including physical fitness, returning to nature, and finding inner peace. If you’re an avid hiker, you might prefer hiking with a buddy or going solo. But, when you’re a pet parent, your number one hiking partner could be your cat.
Hiking with your cat can be a gratifying experience for you and your feline friend if you do it properly. Safety needs to be a top priority, which means using the right equipment, like a cat harness, backpack, and leash. It’s also necessary to ensure you have enough food and water for your kitty and that they're up to date on all vaccinations.
Don’t expect to jump right into an intense hike with your cat. Instead, take it slow and ease into it, with practice walks before the hike and starting on an easy, gentle trail. Check out these helpful tips to ensure you and your cat have the best hiking experience.
Can I Bring My Cat Hiking With Me?
People always bring their dogs hiking, but taking your cat hiking doesn’t seem quite as common. However, you can hike with your cat and discover an incredible bonding experience. As long as you follow precautions and put your cat first, you’ll be able to enjoy some quality time together on the trails.
But, it’s essential to make sure your cat is the outdoorsy type. If they detest being outside or going on adventures, hiking isn’t for them. You might want to find some other ways to bond with your kitty that are more their speed.
What Cat Breeds Make Good Hiking Buddies?
Although every cat is unique, some breeds are more likely to enjoy hiking than others. It’s not an exhaustive list, but here are some of the top cat breeds for taking on adventures. These cats typically love to be outside, adore spending time with their human companions, and are fast learners.
- Maine Coon
- American Bobtail
- American Shorthair
- Turkish Van
- Certain mixed breeds and shelter cats
10 Tips for Hiking with Your Cat
If you’re ready to make your cat your official hiking partner, here are some things you need to know before setting out on your adventure.
1. Know Your Cat
As previously mentioned, don’t take your cat hiking if they don’t like being outside. Knowing and understanding your cat is essential, so you don’t force them to do anything they don’t want.
Obviously, this sentiment doesn’t apply to critical things like going to the vet. But hiking is a want, not a need (no matter how into the activity you are). So, if your feline friend can’t handle a hike or would rather stay indoors, respect your cat.
2. Take Things Slow
If your cat seems game for a hike, take things slow. Before you set out into the woods, start in your backyard. You must take time getting your cat used to a leash, tagging along in a cat backpack, and going on walks.
When leash training your cat, start with a few minutes around the yard, then extend the time little by little. Once your cat gets comfortable, take things to the front yard and up and down your street. As you do this, your cat will become more at ease with the process and be better prepared for your hike.
3. Get the Right Gear
You might already have everything you need for the perfect hike. But when bringing your kitty along, you need to add to your prep list. Make sure to get high-quality, durable gear for your cat.
When hiking with your cat, you should include the following items on your packing list.
- A comfortable and strong cat backpack (your precious pet isn’t going to walk the whole time)
- A cat harness and leash (6-foot leash for beginner felines)
- A collapsible food and water dish
- An adequate amount of food and treats
- A pet first aid kit
- Pet waste bags or a portable litter box and scoop
- Your cat’s current ID tags (on their collar)
- A recent photo of your cat
- Portable cat cage
- Sun protection for your cat (especially if they have light fur)
- An extra harness and leash, just in case
4. Visit the Vet
Before your adventure, ensure your cat is up-to-date on all their vaccinations and proper flea and tick prevention. Also, talk with your vet about your plans to ensure your cat is in good physical condition and can handle your planned hike.
5. Carry Your Cat Out the Door
As a general rule, carry your cat whenever you head out of the house with them on a leash. This is a simple step to establish with your cat that they don't get to walk out the door when it opens. Taking this precaution can help limit the likelihood of your cat dashing out the door in the future.
6. Choose a Quiet, Gentle Trail
At least, while your cat is a beginner, choose a quiet, easy trail. You want to keep the chances low that you'll encounter a lot of others (especially hikers with dogs) along the way. Also, find a short trail to start with too.
If your cat loves the experience, you can choose a longer trail for next time. Then you can start to branch out to different trails. But keeping things as calm as possible is always wise, regardless of your cat's experience level.
7. Go at Your Cat’s Pace
Let your cat set the pace when you are on your hike. If they want to stop and sniff a spot for a while, let them do so. If they want to rest for a moment, sit with them and enjoy each other's company. Don't rush the experience, and let your cat be your guide.
8. Get Your Cat Comfortable with the Car
Unless the hiking trail you plan to use is within walking distance from your home, your cat needs to get used to a car ride. You likely already bring them to the vet in a car, but if that's the case, they may associate the car with negative things.
Make sure to have a proper car harness for your cat. Start with short rides, maybe just around the block. Give your cat lots of treats and praise, so they associate the car with something positive.
9. Stay Aware of Your Cat’s Behavior
During your hiking adventure, monitor your cat’s behavior and attitude. Stay alert to changes in mood or physical activity. Be on the lookout for potential issues or signs of heat exhaustion and other potential problems.
If your cat seems tired, stop and rest. If they are thirsty or hot, give them fresh, cool water and time to refresh.
10. Is Your Cat Chipped?
If your cat doesn’t already have a microchip, now would be a great time to get one. Chipping your pet can make all the difference in finding them should the unthinkable happen, and you get separated from each other. Make sure you’ve registered your pet’s microchip number before you go on your trip.
You can find other helpful tips like these throughout the rest of our blog. Spending quality time with your pets is a must when you’re a pet parent. And we’re here to make sure you have the info you need to make the most of your time together.