Adventure Cats: Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Adventure cats is one of the latest crazes not only in the feline world but the Internet too! We’ve probably all seen the scenic Instagram photos and thought to ourselves “How do you get your cat to do that?!” While it’s not for every cat, it can be a fun bonding experience for you both. In this blog, we’ll go over some tips to keep your cat safe and happy during your adventure.
There are 2 main types of adventuring – in a carrier and freely on a harness. Each have their pros and cons, but you’ll have to decide which one works best for your cat. You may see some of the more famous adventure cats on the Internet not wearing a harness – we do NOT recommend letting your cat off leash. For your cat’s safety, we recommend keeping them either harnessed in a carrier or keeping them on a harness and leash.
First and foremost, never attach a leash to their collar – pulling on their neck can be painful and the collar can break away or slip off. You’ll need to get a harness that fits snugly and comfortably and start training your cat to get used to it. Start slow by laying the harness next to them – let them smell it, smack it – whatever they want to do. Be sure to give treats every step of the way to help reinforce positive behavior. The first time you put the harness on, only leave it for a few seconds, take it off and give treats. Repeat this until your cat seems comfortable and slowly increase the time they wear it. This can help avoid the association of the harness with being grabbed. When your cat moves freely in the room with the harness, try attaching the leash and walking around your house. The leash changes the feel and weight so some cats struggle with being attached. Remember to give treats and breaks every step of the way.
When you feel like your cat is comfortable, try small walks around your yard or neighborhood first in small doses. Your cat might feel overwhelmed by the ambush of smells and sounds if they aren’t used to being outside. Take treats with you and give them as you go along.
If you decide the harness isn’t for your cat, you can also try adventuring in a cat backpack. This can offer your cat a chance to get out in the world, but from the safety of a backpack. Some packs even open at the top so if you cat is feeling particularly adventurous, you can take the top off and clip their harness in for the ride. Just like with the leash and harness, you’ll need to train your cat to get used to the pack and the sights, smells, and sounds that come with the world outside.
When you’re ready to pick an adventure – start small. Try a local scenic park that’s less likely to have children screaming, big dogs barking, etc. Even the most trained cat can become startled so do your best to pick a place seated in nature with lots of birds and interesting plants.
Just like with anything new for your cat, always watch for signs of stress including:
- Change in litter box habits
- Overgrooming and/or excessive scratching
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Change in behavior
- Change in appetite
- Sudden aggression towards people or other pets
If you notice any of these symptoms or anything usual, stop the training and call your vet.
With a little hard work and determination, you and your cat could be hiking and adventuring in the great outdoors! If you try adventuring with your cat, send us a picture or tag us on Facebook – we’d love to see it!
All photos featured are of our very own adventure cats – Ollie and Lillian who own our office manager, Genevieve and her husband, Chris.