Can You Hike With A Cat?

hiking with a cat

I have to admit – the first time I saw a cat on a leash, I laughed out loud. I thought it was a bit silly! But as it turns out, hiking with a cat can be a lot of fun – for both you and your feline friend.

Since you’ve landed on this page, I assume you already enjoy hiking. But you’ve been itching to bring your little kitty on the next trail. The big question is, can you hike with a cat? 

Hiking with a cat is possible, and believe it or not, many do it. However, before you throw on a harness and start hiking with your cat, there are a lot of considerations. Is your cat comfortable outdoors? What about the risks? How would you protect your cat against other wildlife?

Continue reading if you want to learn more about hiking with a cat, how to plan for this adventure, and safety tips to follow to ensure a successful hike for you and your cat. 

Can You Hike with A Cat?

Yes, you can hike with a cat. Hiking or even going on brisk walks can be beneficial to cats as it helps keep them healthy. It is a great exercise that can help overweight cats burn off fat and healthier cats stay in shape.

However, just because hiking can be beneficial to cats does not mean all cats (or your cat) will love the outdoors. If your cat loves looking out the window or dashing to the door, they might like hiking. However, if your cat’s favorite pastime is sleeping on the couch, it might take a long time for it to adapt to the outdoors. 

Please note that, for hiking with your feline friend to be successful, a lot of training has to occur. You’re going to have to learn to be patient and take gradual steps in the training process to ensure your cat starts enjoying hiking the way you do. 

Is It Safe To Hike With A Cat?

Hiking with your cat can be safe, but there are a lot of precautions first to understand. There are risks involved if you haven’t done it before, and the primary one among them is your cat running away. The presence of people, dogs, and even water can frighten your cat and cause them to run away during the hike. However, you reduce this particular risk by using a harness. A harness keeps your feline friend close to you at all times. We’ll cover how to find the best cat harness a little below, or you can click here to jump down to that section.

Another risk associated with hiking with your cat is exposure to parasites. Microorganisms like ticks could attach themselves to your cat and cause significant discomfort and ill health. 

Lastly, please consider the weather. Rainy weather is not ideal for animals with fur, including your cat. This kind of weather exposes them to hypothermia and illness. On the other hand, temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit could prove fatal for your cat. So if you’re in a warmer state, wait until the cooler months before you start.

Best Harness For Your Cat

The best harness for your cat should be snug. It should not be too tight to ensure there is no restriction in movement. However, it should be tight enough to prevent the cat from wriggling out of it. Putting a finger or two under the harness would tell you if it’s the right fit for your cat. A well-fitted harness prevents them from running free while ensuring your cat remains comfortable within it. 

But, how do you choose a harness for your cat? Measure your cat’s neck and girth using a cloth measuring tape, then add two or three inches to whatever value you got. This additional measurement ensures maximum comfort for your cat while on a leash.

Here’s a great cat harness if you decide this is something you want to try out.

Training begins after selecting the right harness and fitting it to your cat. You can have fun with your cat within your home or environment until your cat is comfortable enough to walk around with the harness. Also, ensure to give your feline friend treats during this learning process, as it serves as a form of positive reinforcement for them. 

Advantages Of Hiking With Your Cat

Now that you have an idea of how to hike with your cat, let’s look at some of the many advantages of hiking with them:

1. To enjoy nature: When you hike with your cat, you can enjoy nature, fresh air, and beautiful scenery. Cats are very inquisitive animals, and once they take a liking to the outdoors, they’re going to love going on more adventures with you. 

2. Keeps your cat fit: Hiking helps keep you and your feline friend fit, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease while improving blood pressure. Hiking as an exercise also helps cats suffering from obesity, as it helps them lose weight naturally.

3. Helps you sleep better: When you hike with your cat during the day, you sleep better at night. Why is this so? After a long day’s hike, your cat would need to rest as much as you, reducing their nocturnal tendencies.

4. Increase your cat’s strength: Hiking with your cat helps build the strength of their legs, making them stronger and ensuring they get to stay on the trail for longer. As a bonus, they’ll soon be able to jump on top of your highest cabinet with ease. 🙂

5. Grow closer:  Hiking with your cat helps you and your cat develop a stronger bond. Hiking gives you and your cat quality time together, which can help foster better communication between you two.

Disadvantages Of Hiking With Your Cat

1. Wildlife & Nature: Hiking often exposes your cat to dangers such as other wild animals, bad weather conditions, and even new sounds. While these things wouldn’t bother us so much, most cats are used to the comfort of home. These factors could become too overwhelming for the cat, causing them to grow fearful, or worse, try to run away.

2. Exposed to microorganisms: Another disadvantage of hiking is exposing your cat to attack from fleas, ticks, and other parasites. If your cat vaccination is not up-to-date, an attack from these parasites could prove fatal to your cat. 

best gear for hiking with your cat
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Top 5 Tips For Hiking With Your Cat

While it is true that not all cats will turn out to be professional hikers, below are my top 5 tips for successfully hiking with your cat and making it an enjoyable experience for the both of you:

1. Choose The Right Hiking Gear

Cat hiking gear includes a harness and leash, backpack, and GPS tracker. Although cats prefer to roam free, a harness and leash would keep them safe while hiking. These tools help keep the cat close while allowing her to set the hiking pace. When selecting a harness, ensure it has wide padded straps as they tend to be more comfortable for your cat.

Another piece of gear to consider is a cat backpack. Cats have small legs and might get tired along the way if the hike gets too long. A cat backpack allows the cat to continue the hike with you while safely nestled in the backpack behind you. I recommend this cat backpack by Beikott.

Pro Tip: Even when your cat is in the backpack, ensure you still have a firm grip on the leash. This will prevent your cat from trying to play superman and leaping out of the backpack.

Also, consider getting a GPS cat tracker. The GPS tracker helps you pinpoint your cat’s exact location using a phone app.

2. Take All The Necessary Vaccines

The outdoors can be a scary place for an unvaccinated cat. Without proper vaccination, you expose the cat to attack from parasites like fleas and ticks. Before setting out, ensure all flea and tick medications are up to date and heartworm preventive.

3. Start Hiking From Home

Before heading out into the wild, walk your cat at home or in a quiet park. While doing this, watch your cat’s behavior. If your cat becomes skittish during this walk, take it inside. Ensure you make any experience the cat has outside memorable by offering treats and praises. 

4. Choose A Quiet Trail

Once your cat passes the yard walk test, you can try hiking with her on a quiet park or trail. Since trails are often busy and hardly quiet, you should hike in the early mornings and late evenings. 

Also, make sure the park you plan on visiting allows pets since not all of them do.

5. Keep To Narrow Paths

Hiking a narrow part would help your cat learn how to move forward in one direction. Hiking in an open field could end up with your cat meandering endlessly.

Conclusion

So, can you go hiking with a cat? Yes! For me, the advantages and benefits outweigh the disadvantages. From improved fitness, to better health, to getting some great bonding time in nature – you can’t beat that. However, make sure to use the right gear, be up to date on vaccines, and start small and slow.  

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