A Cat on a Leash in the Woods | Taste of the Wild

It’s pretty common to see pet owners taking their dogs to the park, on vacation, or on other adventures. But what about cat owners and their furry companions? Adventure shouldn’t be limited to the canine set. Smokey and Socks deserve an adventure, too!

We will admit, however, that cats take a little more prep work before embarking on a fantastic journey. Unlike a dog, Smokey may need a bit more time to get acclimated to adventuring, and it may be more than a simple, “Let’s jump into the car and go, furry friend!”

Don’t fret, though. We’ll walk you through a variety of potential kitty adventures, along with how to best get your cat ready for each.

Harness Up for a Backyard Adventure

Do you have a backyard for Socks to explore? No matter if it’s a small fenced-in section or a large open space, all your cat will see is, “Adventure!” First, you’ll want to choose the right size harness for your cat. Harnesses are typically sized by weight and length of the body and chest —grab that sewing tape measure to help find the perfect fit.

Next, place the harness on your cat without the leash for a couple of minutes to introduce them to the feeling. They may walk funny or lay down as they get used to this new-to-them item. Give them a treat prior to taking the harness off to let them know they’ve done a great job.

Gradually increase the amount of time your cat wears the harness over the next several days or several weeks (each cat is different). Continue to provide them a treat before taking the harness off.

Once you feel that Socks is ready to see the great outdoors, attach the leash to the harness, and give them ample time to get comfortable with this new attachment. After they walk around comfortably like there is nothing attached to them, open the door and let them lead the way. Stay close to the door in case they get nervous. And be sure to let them know it’s alright. Your furry pal may need time to sniff the air, try the grass and take it all in. However, once they’re ready to go, be prepared to adventure around the backyard farther!

To Grandmother’s House We Go

Take Smokey on an adventure to visit friends or family nearby. If your four-legged friend is used to riding in a car only for vet visits, note that you may get a front-row seat to a cat opera on the first few drives. Over time, Smokey will begin to associate car rides with something other than a vet visit, and the cat opera might not be an encore performance every time.

The first step to a weekend adventure with friends or family is making sure they live in a location that allows pets. Next, pack all the necessities for a night away from home. This includes a water bowl, food bowl, food, litter box and a favorite toy.

After you get everything packed, load up the carrier and buckle Smokey in for their safety, your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road.

When you arrive at your destination, open the carrier and let them ease out on their own to explore. Before they join you all for movies and games, show Smokey where their food, water bowl and litter box are set up.

Take Your Cat on a Hike

Go take a hike — with your cat! If you like to walk or hike nearby trails, consider purchasing a cat backpack for Socks to join you. Make sure you know your cat’s weight and measurements before purchasing a cat backpack. You’ll want to give them enough room to move around comfortably.  Just as with car rides and harnesses, your pet will need to be acclimated to the backpack prior to jetting out to the trails for an hour-long hike. We recommend placing the backpack in a room they frequent and letting them investigate this new-to-them piece. Place a few treats in the backpack for incentive to explore the entire bag. Follow up with, “Good Socks!” when you see them interacting with the backpack. Positive reinforcement will be just as important as the treats.

Once you see Socks is comfortable with the backpack, start to close it in small increments. Reward your cat with a treat every time you close it a little more. When they’re comfortable, zip up the backpack fully and try to walk a small distance in the house with the bag on your back. Work your way up from there, evaluating your cat’s comfort levels throughout the process.

Next, try a hiking short distance around your backyard or while walking out to grab the mail. Continue with positive reinforcement and treats for their efforts. Eventually, you and Socks will be out on the trails ready for adventure!

Additional Thoughts

Before taking your furry friend on an adventure, consider gifting them with a collar and tag, or taking them to the vet to get microchipped. You’ll want someone to be able to reach you in case a furry adventure goes awry and Socks wanders off too far.

Also, you’ll know the difference between your cat adjusting to new adventures and your cat being in extreme distress. If you notice your cat is extremely distressed in the process of taking them on an adventure, do not proceed further.

You can still provide your cat with an adventure from the comfort of your home. Consider building forts of boxes and blankets and getting the laser pointer out as an alternative. “Adventure” means something a little different to everyone, especially to cats. Give your cat theirs!

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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.