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How to Hike With a Cat – Furry Adventures Abound!

Getting outdoors has so many benefits, and there’s nothing quite like a good hike right? Fresh air, beautiful scenery & a clear head. If you are a feline fanatic as well as an adventurous soul, you might have been wondering: can I take my cat hiking with me? And do cats like hiking?

The answer is, yes! While some kitties may prefer being a couch potato, many cats are curious and adventurous enough to love the trail just as much as you do. 

In fact, hiking can become an incredible bonding experience for you both.  

Not to mention it can provide pawfect mental and physical stimulation for your kitty – which we have seen first hand with our own fluffy Yoda.

However, going on a hike with your cat is not something you can just start straight away. To have the best possible experience for you and your fluffy friend, you’re going to need 3 things: Preparation, planning & patience!

So we are here to help!

The Complete Guide for How to Hike With Your Cat

girl hiking with a cat on leash outside
Yoda and Bri hiking in remote Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

In this guide on how to hike with your cat, we’ll cover all the top tips you need to hit the trail with confidence. Including:

  • Preparation
    • Adventure cat characteristics 
    • How to build your kitty’s confidence
    • The hiking prep plan
  • Planning
    • How to plan the perfect hike 
    • Essential hiking gear for cats
  • Patience
    • Staying present with your kitty
    • Common issues to be prepared for 

Preparing to Hike with a Cat

Before you attempt a hike, you’ll need to lay the foundations for an adventure cat. 

If you are looking for a new feline friend to become your hiking buddy, then it’s worth choosing an adoptee or kitten that will be best suited to outdoor pursuits. 

That means either asking the shelter workers to help match you with a confident and outgoing personality or looking for those traits in your new kitten. 

The ASPCA has a handy color category system to work out your cat’s personality type, with Green being the most likely to have an adventurous streak. You can use their handbook to guide you on what to look out for here. 

If you’d like to try hiking with your current pet cat, use your knowledge of their purr-sonality to determine if they are ready for adventure training.  

  • Are they naturally curious?
  • Do they approach new things with a swagger?
  • Are they always looking outside?
  • Do they investigate new surroundings or do they prefer to hide away?
  • What experience do they have of the outdoors already?

While a naturally more extroverted kitty will likely take well to hiking, many different types of cats can be trained to gain more confidence. The more introverted your cat, however, the longer it may take to build that comfort level with outdoor adventures.  

For example, it might take a more nervous kitty 10x the amount of exposure to get used to something new than a more confident character. 

So be prepared to put in the time to help build that confidence up, if hiking is something you really want to share with your cat. 

How to build that confidence? Here’s a step by step plan:

The Hiking Prep Plan

girl sitting next to cat on leash outdoors

1. Harness Desensitization

A cat harness is going to be key to keeping your kitty safe on the trail, so it’s time to get your cat used to wearing one. If your cat is having trouble getting used to the harness, try going super slowly.

Give them some tasty treats every time you get a little closer to wearing it. Even starting with treats just for sniffing the harness is a good way to build that positive association.

We share our top harness picks (+ all your other essential cat hiking gear) below!  

2. Leash Desensitization

Once the harness has become familiar to your cat, start to introduce the leash. Again, take this slowly, and don’t be phased if your kitty tries to play with it or seems spooked at first.

Offer treats, play, and cuddles – whatever will help them acclimate to this new feeling. 

3. Leash Training

Once that step is accomplished, try going on little walks to get them used to the leash.

First in the house, then perhaps in your lobby or hallway, before finally graduating to a local park. Aim for quiet times with low footfall if you can, to keep these initial walks calm and fun for your kitty. 

Read our full guide to Leash Training your Cat! 

4. Backpack Exposure

If a harness and leash just aren’t right for your cat, or they have mobility issues, then you can try incorporating a backpack into your training plan.

Again, start slowly and build up to walking around in the house first, before taking to the great outdoors.  

Read the 12 Do’s and Don’ts of Backpacking with a Cat

girl and her cat hiking together outside on trail in Canada

5. Car Exposure

Of course, to reach those amazing trails, you’re likely to need to jump in a car with your kitty. So make sure you slowly build that amazing positive association with car travel and be sure your cat can travel comfortably with you. 

Read the How to Travel with a Cat in the Car in 10 Easy Steps

Remember that the key here is plenty of practice and encouraging natural curiosity. 

Once your kitty is confident on a leash, is comfortable traveling to trails, and appears happy in new environments, it’s time to start planning your hiking trips! 

Top T​​ip - It’s a good idea to always carry your cat out of the front door rather than letting them walk out with their harness on. That’s because if your cat feels comfortable walking out the door, they might try to do it every time you need to open it to greet friends or get those grocery bags in!

How to Plan a Hike With Your Cat

When you are learning how to hike with a cat, there are a few things you need to bear in mind to ensure your trips are as fun for your kitty as they are for you.

Choose Your Environment 

The environment is key to encouraging your cat to relax and enjoy the hike. If you can find a quiet trail to start on that’s not heavily populated by dogs and people, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

Who knows – you may be surprised at just how quickly your cat warms up to trotting alongside you! 

Stay On Track

It’s always worth trying to find places with a distinct trail and to keep your cat on a leash. 

While it may be tempting to go off-road or let your kitty run free, there’s nothing more devastating than your kitty getting lost out in the wilderness, or you both getting lost and having an anxious cat on your hands! 

Be Alert 

If you live in a country with large predators, always maintain a sense of alertness.

It’s also wise to be able to sense any perceived dangers your kitty might find distressing, such as unleashed dogs or loud noises, and be ready to help them feel protected or soothed if needed. 

Sometimes having a cat backpack with you as a potentially safe space for your kitty is a great idea!

Essential Hiking Gear for Cats

Hiking is so much more pleasant when you aren’t uncomfortable, right? It’s the same for your kitty too! 

So making sure you’ve packed all the travel essentials, and have appropriate gear for your adventure cat makes all the difference.

Here’s a suggested list of all the essential hiking gear for cats:

girl wearing cat backpack and holding cat on a hike in Canada

1. Cat Hiking Backpack

An appropriate cat hiking bag can help you carry all the essentials, and your cat if they need a helping hand! Check out our guide to the 10 Best Cat Backpacks for Adventurous Felines to find the one that’s right for you and your fur-friend. 

2. Cat Hiking Harness & Leash

We are loving the Supakit harness and leash combo at the moment. Not only are they safe and secure, but they are easy to slip on, durable, lightweight, comfy and eco friendly too. Plus they are seriously stylish…everything we’re after! 

3. Travel Bowls

If you are a frequent hiker, you’ll need something like these super cool Collapsible Silicone Bowls to keep your kitty fed and watered en route. This design can be zipped up into a compact CD-sized carry case – small enough to easily fit in your backpack.

4. Snacks & Treats

To keep both your and your kitty’s energy up, be sure to bring along some high-quality snacks and treats with you. If you need some suggestions, check out our guide to the All-Around Best Cat Treats.

grey cat hiking on dirt trail with owner holding leash

5. Water

Hydration is important for both you and your cat while out and about, especially on those warmer days. So bring along plenty of water.

6. Cat Hiking Boots (Optional)

If you are heading for rocky terrain, it might be a good idea to introduce some protective boots to your cat. These Anti-Slip Cat Boots are waterproof and come with a handy reflective strap too. 

7. Sunscreen

If it’s a warm day, it’s a good idea to protect your cat’s sensitive areas with sunscreen, especially their ears and nose. This Organic Sunscreen for pets provides natural and toxin-free protection against those rays.  

8. Cat Fleece

If it’s a super cold or super wet day, you’d layer up, wouldn’t you? Well, consider doing the same for your kitty too, especially for those adventure cats with thinner coats. This amazing all-rounder Cat Jacket is perfect for keeping your kitty warm and dry in the great outdoors. 

9. First Aid Kit

It’s always great to be prepared, and carrying some essential first aid supplies means you can be ready for any accidents. This Emergency Travel Kit for Cats has all the basics you’ll need in a handy-sized pouch. 

Final Tips for Hiking With Your Cat

woman standing next to her cat wearing jacket while hiking outside

Out there on the trails, be sure to keep your cat comfortable by being patient with their individual quirks, moods and needs. 

It’s all about staying present with your kitty – listening to their signals and following their lead… literally! 

Sometimes they’ll happily trot by you for hours, sometimes they won’t want to leave the car park. Cats are independent creatures and that’s why we love them! 

Be sure to let your cat lead the way. Many find someone walking in front of them will cause them to stop or back away. 

If they are heading in a direction that you don’t want, avoid tugging the leash. Instead, just stop walking. Usually, they will then just sit down and have a look around, before looking to you for their next instruction. 

Be prepared to carry your kitty occasionally if they are tired, the terrain is tough or it’s a particularly hot day. Your cat may love being outside, but they might only want to explore every now and then. So make sure they’re comfortably nestled in a backpack when they need to be. 

Our biggest tip?

Hiking with Cats is Unpredictable!

You can still enjoy the scenery together no matter what. Even if that means watching the sunset together sitting in your car rather than from the end of the trail – either way, that’s time well spent!

We’ve found that our travels with Yoda have allowed us to stop, breathe and appreciate the beauty around us more, rather than always rushing around. Sometimes, a cat’s way of doing things is the best way! 

We hope you enjoyed this guide to hiking pet cats, and we can’t wait to see some of your adventures for ourselves! Do tag us in any ‘advenpurrs’ you get up to!

Are you already hiking with your cat? Do you have any top tips for the Fluffy Kitty Community? We’d love to know 🙂