3 Essentials Steps To Make Your Cat An Adventure Cat
Whether you've made a resolution to spend more time exploring the great outdoors with your cat in 2019 or you're simply interested in embarking on adventures with your feline companion but unsure of where to begin, you've come to the right place. This step-by-step guide will help you introduce your cat to everything from wearing a harness to hitting the trails.
First and foremost, let's address a fundamental question...
Why do you want to adventure with your cat?
Is it because both of you need the exercise? Or perhaps you think your kitty would enjoy the taste of grass in the backyard or a visit to the local park. Maybe you're motivated by the fact that your fur baby is incredibly photogenic and you're eager to start an Instagram account for them. Whatever your reasons, ensure they are suitable for your cat's well-being.
It's important to understand that not all cats are cut out to be adventure cats, and that's perfectly okay. Therefore, before you purchase a harness or pack up your belongings for a camping trip, assess your kitty's personality to determine if they would genuinely enjoy adventuring or if they're better suited for a catio lifestyle.
1. Choose the perfect harness.
While you may be eager to start training your adventure kitty immediately, acquiring the right equipment is crucial.
Your local pet store might have a limited selection of harnesses, but there are numerous options available in the market. Do some research to find the best harness for your cat, and keep in mind that you may need to order one online, which means you'll have to wait a few days to kick off your adventure-cat journey.
Typically, there are two basic styles of harnesses: leads, which consist of straps attached to a leash, and vests, which are like miniature items of clothing for cats. It's essential to purchase a proper harness instead of simply attaching a leash to your cat's collar, as the latter can potentially harm your cat or allow them to escape easily.
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Regardless of the harness you choose, the fit is of utmost importance. As a general guideline, you should be able to fit a finger or two under the harness, but not more than that.
2. Commence training.
Helping your cat adjust to wearing a harness and engaging in days or weeks of training may not be the picturesque moments you've envisioned, but it's a crucial step towards making your kitty adventure-ready. Just as you needed to learn how to ride a bike before speeding down a steep hill, your cat requires proper preparation to adapt to this new experience.
If your cat is still a kitten, they may readily accept wearing a harness and walking on a leash. However, it might be more challenging if you're working with an older cat. This doesn't mean that older cats can never feel comfortable in a harness or walking on a leash, but it does require patience, a gradual approach, and plenty of enticing treats.
Do not be alarmed if your cat goes limp, lies down, refuses to walk, or walks unusually during the first few attempts at wearing the harness. They are likely not accustomed to the sensation of having something on their back, so give them time to adjust.
Ready to get started?
Training doesn't have to end once your cat is comfortable in a harness. We strongly recommend clicker training your feline friend and teaching them to come when called before venturing into more remote wilderness areas.
3. Embark on the trail.
You're probably eager to hit the dirt with your kitty as soon as possible, but keep in mind that early in the new year, it may be too cold for cats in colder climates. Consult with your veterinarian before taking your cat outside, and while you're there, ensure that your furry companion is up to date on vaccinations, as well as flea, tick, and heartworm treatments.
Whether you embark on a leisurely nature walk or an overnight camping trip, it's important to keep a few basics in mind.
Ensure you're prepared. This means packing the necessary essentials for your outdoor excursion, along with a few additional items, such as a recent photo of your cat in case of separation.
Leash your kitty. While your adventurous feline may always respond to your calls or stay close to you, accidents can occur. To prioritize safety, keep your cat on a leash and hold it securely.
Anticipate the occasional lift. If you encounter a potential threat or something that might frighten your cat, such as a dog, pick your kitty up. Cats feel more secure when they're at a higher vantage point. Additionally, be ready to provide your cat with assistance if they become tired, the terrain becomes challenging, or the weather is particularly hot. Your cat might only want to explore intermittently, so ensure they are comfortably nestled in a backpack or perched on your shoulder.
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Tips for adventuring with your cat from the experts:
- Start slow and limit escape routes initially. For example, take your cat to a small island in a pond where you can guard the bridge to prevent any sudden escapes.
- Instead of letting your cat walk outdoors on their own, carry them when going outside to reduce the tendency for door-dashing without a leash.
- Be patient with leash training and avoid comparing cats to dogs. Manage your expectations and understand that leash walking may not be suitable for every cat.
- Learn to interpret your cat's body language, as it's crucial for understanding their comfort level in new environments.
- If you have a specific destination in mind, be prepared to carry your cat for most of the journey, saving wandering for when you reach your campsite.
- Consider attaching a bell to your cat's collar to keep track of their whereabouts and alert other animals, particularly birds they may attempt to hunt.
- Make outings a regular part of your routine to help your cat become more comfortable with outdoor adventures.
- If you have a negative experience, avoid punishing your cat. Instead, encourage them for their efforts, offer treats once they've calmed down, and try again. Always aim to end the adventure on a positive note.