Are you ever envious of your friends who take their dogs on hikes, walks, and other fun outdoor activities? You may think that that dogs get all the fun, well, that couldn't be further from the truth! Your cat is just as capable of being your partner in exploring the world as any dog. Whether it be a brisk walk or an adventurous hike, there are a number of ways that your cat can safely join in on the fun.
Harness and Leash
One of the most traditional ways to get your cat involved in outdoor adventures is by leash and harness training them. This way, your cat can be one with nature, without letting their curiosity get the best of them. We must emphasize using a harness rather than a collar, since cats are wriggly little critters that can easily slip out of a collar.
Begin leash and harness training your cat indoors. Introduce the harness first by allowing them to wear it for extended periods of time. Use positive reinforcement by giving your cat treats and praise whenever they wear their harness. Once they become comfortable with their harness, then you can introduce them to the leash. Don't be surprised if your cat goes full "limp noodle" on you when first leashed, this is totally normal. Again, build them up with consistent positive reinforcement in the form of treats anytime the leash is on. Continue daily short walks inside until your cat is comfortable, and then you are ready to conquer the great outdoors with your adventure cat!
If your cat never quite gets past the "limp noodle" stage of harness training, then a cat backpack may be a better fit. Backpacks are also great for harness-trained cats who get tired during a long walk, or for when the trail becomes a little too treacherous for your cat to continue walking comfortably on the leash.
There are plenty of backpacks on the market that are designed specifically for cats and other small animals. Cat backpacks will have large holes to allow for ample airflow, and normally have a large window or are totally clear so your cat can take in all the sights.
Just as with leash and harness training, you must get your cat acclimated with the backpack before they can start accompanying you on adventures. Begin by leaving the backpack out for your cat to explore. Anytime your cat interacts with the backpack, give them treats. You can even put some of kitty's favorite snacks inside the backpack to entice them to check it out. Once they are comfortable with the backpack, you can start with short walks inside or around your yard for a couple of minutes at a time. Gradually, increase the time as you go, and your cat will be equipped to take on the trails in no time!
If your cat enjoys the backpack, then they will LOVE the stroller! Cat strollers are great for cats who don't do well with the leash and harness and want a little more space than they would get in the backpack. Strollers are perfect for terrain that is more predictable than your typical nature trail. Walks around the neighborhood (preferably, on sidewalk) are much more ideal for this ride.
As with our two previous options, slow introductions with consistent positive reinforcement in the form of treats are ideal to get your cat accustomed to their new digs. However, it is likely that they will be much more comfortable with the stroller and at a quicker pace than with the two previous options. You will be taking the term "cat mom" new a whole new extreme with this one, but we won't judge!
With some practice and a little bit of trial and error, any of these options can take your cat from homebody to Indiana Jones in no time! Just always be mindful of your cat's boundaries and overall comfortability. If they seem at all distressed with any of these contraptions or their environment, then we suggest sticking to indoor enrichment activities. Kitty Kasas provide ample enrichment, as well as a great hideaway for when your cat needs some "me time".
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