Have you heard of the "adventure cats" phenomenon ? These adventurous cats are a growing community, exploring the world with their masters and sharing images of their escapades on the social network Instagram (#adventurecats). The term first appeared in 2013 with Burma (@burmaadventurecat), the cat of Stephen Simmons, an American veteran of the Iraq war who had become accustomed to hiking with his feline. Since then, many other adventurous cats have joined him: @avocadosquid, @boltandkeel, @bambucat, @adventurecatkev ... Beyond the pretty photographs taken from their walks, they prove that cats are not necessarily apartment animals and can also enjoy the walks in the nature. And you, would you like to try with your kitty ? Here's what you need to know.
Does your cat have an adventurous soul?You like to discover new horizons and take walks outdoors. But is this also the case with your cat? Know that not all felines have an adventurous soul and that for some, finding himself in an unfamiliar environment can be a great source of stress. Do not try to force your cat to do something he does not like: if you decide to go hiking with him, it must be a pleasure for both of you.
To know if your cat is compatible for this exercise, observe him well. If he is curious about everything, he feels comfortable in a new environment and is not afraid to see strangers (human or animal) he has the potential to become an "adventure cat". If, on the other hand, little things frighten him and any change in his habits creates a drama, he will no doubt be happier by remaining at home quietly. Also note that the younger your cat is, the easier it will be to get used to hiking.
A training is necessaryIf you think your cat has the makings of a hiker, know that you will not be able to take him immediately with you on a walk. The first step is to teach him how to walk on a leash, with a harness, because there is no question of letting him venture completely out in the wilderness (something could frighten him and he could escape and get lost). To get used to it, begin to clothe him in its harness and let him get used for a few minutes (but immediately remove the harness if he shows a rejection reaction) and give him a small reward.
Once your cat has accepted the harness (after several sessions spread over several days), you can teach him to walk on a leash. Again, do not push him too much: learning must be progressive and not forced. Finally, it is advisable to teach your cat to return by the call of his name. This provides extra security to be able to find him in case he would escapes your supervision. You can use dressage techniques such as "clicker training" (see our article "Can you train a cat ?").
Be well prepared before the departureYour cat is ready ? Before going on an adventure with him, make sure all his vaccines are up to date as well as his pest control treatments (worms, ticks and fleas). Also, make sure that he can be easily found if he gets lost: with a necklace in his name, a tattoo or (it's best) a microchip.
On the day of departure, take with you a kit for your cat: food, water (with a bowl to serve it) and portable litter (or plastic bags that will serve it). Also have a bag to carry your cat (there are backpacks specially designed for felines). Indeed, your cat will not walk during the whole time of the hike and in any case not at the same pace as you. Finally, plan short walks. They can later be lengthened if your cat has taken a taste for adventure !