15 Jul

Getting Your Cat Trail Ready


Getting Your Cat Trail Ready
By: Melissa Merryman
Student Services Manager

Do you suspect your feline friend may be an outdoor adventurer ready to hike the trails with you? If so, you are not alone. Many cat owners have taken their cats to the trails. A quick search on social media shows an increased presence of human and cat explorers sharing outdoors adventures.

Inspired by a combined love of outdoors and her cat, a family member of mine has taken the opportunity to introduce her cat to hiking. Larix is a three year old feline that lives in Bend, Oregon with his cat parents, Melissa N. and Jabus S. Larix has spent the majority of his life exploring the Cascade mountains and high desert landscape. Through the adventures, Larix and his cat parents have learned many lessons from the trail. Larix will not be found social media, however, Melissa and Jabus have allowed me to share their travels and lessons learned through this blog format.

Larix enjoying time in his year during autumn as the leaves drop.

Understand Your Cat

Will your cat like hiking outdoors? Not all cats will. Take your time gauging whether your cat will enjoy being outside and hiking. Start at home and start slow. Introduce your cat to outside spaces around your home. Progress by finding less traveled paths with consideration of activity of wildlife, people, and people with their dogs. Remember the car ride to the trails is just as important to consider. Bring extra supplies like towels and wipes during the first few trips in case the cat has a potty accident or has motion sickness. If the car ride is not a fit, don’t force it. Understand your cat and respect your cat’s limits. If your cat is ready to hop in the car in search of new trials be sure to have the right gear and encouragement ready.

cat harness

Larix enjoying time in his year during autumn as the leaves drop.

Have A Good Harness

The harness should be fitted on the cat’s chest and around the shoulders. A properly fitting harness will keep the cat and cat owners happy. The harness should not be too tight and rub against the cat causing irritation nor too loose to give opportunity for the cat to slip out of the harness.

cat walking

As Larix became more trail confident, his cat parents lengthened his leash.

Decide on the Right Leash

What is the right leash length for your cat? As you are deciding which length works the best, you may begin with a shorter leash as new trails are explored and lengthen the leash as the cat becomes more familiar with hiking and associated trail activity and sounds.

cat food

Food and water break on the trail.

Prepare Your Travel Pack

Be sure to bring essential items for your cat including first aid items, waste bags, a water bowl, food dish, food, and water. Feel free to sneak in a few of your cat’s favorite treats as well. Dedicate a space in your pack to tuck away your cat’s essentials. While out on the trail, take advantage of snack and water breaks.

Trail Etiquette and Encouragement

Cats will want to explore all around the trail to become acquainted with the area and it’s important to give your cat flexibility and time to do so. Be sure to follow posted trail signs including keeping out of closed areas while your cat explores. Keep attention on your cat as the cat may spot a potential threat in the area before you do. Have a game plan to keep your cat safe whether it’s leaving the area or picking up your cat and placing them safely in a cat carrier style backpack.

Make the Most of the Adventure

Trail conditions will directly impact the hiking experience. Check conditions before embarking on an adventure. Will it be too hot or too cold? It’s best to forego a hike if the conditions are not right. Aim to enjoy the hike with your cat and create a bonding experience. Stop and smell the flowers. No really. Your cat is at the perfect level to spot beautiful, unique, and fragrant flowers.