Do you love spending time outdoors? Probably you already take your cat outdoors on a leash. If so, hiking with your cat can be a thrilling and rewarding experience. Imagine exploring scenic trails, breathing in the fresh air, and bonding with your cat as you take on new adventures together.
While going to the mountains on our own can be quite straightforward, taking your cat on a hike requires careful planning and preparation to ensure that both you and your cat are safe and comfortable.
In this article you'll learn all there is to know to go hiking with your cat; from training your cat or selecting the right gear to select the right time and places to hike with your furry companion.
So, get ready to pack your bags and hit the trails with your furry companion!
Is it safe to take my cat hiking with me?
Bringing your cat on a hike can be a wonderful experience for both you and your feline friend. There are 3 questions I like asking myself when thinking about taking my cat Mia with me on a hike:
- How is the weather going to be?
- Is the trail generally safe?
- Are there predators in the area?
These 3 questions group most if not all of the dangers that you can face when hiking with your cat.
How is the weather going to be?
This like rain, cold, and heat are important when hiking with your cat as their comfort range is narrower than ours (if you consider that we can put on and off layers as needed).
The maximum temperature that cats can handle varies depending on several factors such as their age, health, breed, and acclimation to the environment. Generally, cats can tolerate temperatures up to around 100°F (38°C) for brief periods. However, prolonged exposure to temperatures above this range can be dangerous for cats and can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. An easy way to know if your cat is too hot is panting. Cats don't pant as dogs, if your cat is panting, take it as an ultimatum.
Cats can tolerate cold temperatures better than hot temperatures, but still, need to be protected from extreme cold. The specific lowest temperature that a cat can handle depends on several factors such as age, health, breed, and coat thickness. Generally, cats can tolerate temperatures down to around 20°F (-6°C) for brief periods, but prolonged exposure to temperatures below this range can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, and other health issues.
The temperatures shared above are extremes that your cat can handle, but you should consider leaving your cat home if the temperatures of the hike are going to oscillate beyond 85°F (30°C) or below 60°F (15°C).
Is the trail generally safe?
Trails can sometimes have bridges, rivers, or points of no return. When hiking with your cat, you want to make sure that the train has no no-return points so that you can head back any time if need to. Also, hikes could pose a problem if your cat decides to jump off your backpack at the right time, which should be avoided as well.
Are there predators in the area?
Cats are vulnerable to predation by several different animals, both wild and domestic. In the wild, larger carnivores such as coyotes, foxes, and bobcats may prey on cats. Birds of prey, such as hawks and owls, may also target cats, especially young or sick individuals. Domestic dogs may also pose a threat to cats, especially if they are allowed to roam freely or are not properly supervised. To protect cats from predation, it's important to keep them within reach and have a safe place for them to hang like your shoulder or a cat backpack if predators came into the picture.
There are many potential hazards that your cat may encounter on a hike, such as wild animals, harsh terrain, and weather conditions. Additionally, it is important to consider your cat's physical fitness and adventure training the demands of the hike before bringing them along. You should also have a plan in case of an emergency, such as a lost or injured cat.
To ensure the safety of your cat on a hike, it is important to research the trail beforehand to assess its difficulty and potential hazards. Consider the physical fitness of your cat and start with short hikes before gradually increasing the length and difficulty. Make sure to bring plenty of water, food, and first aid supplies. Keep your cat on a harness and leash or in a carrier to ensure they are protected at all times.
What should I bring for my cat on a hike?
Proper preparation is key to having a successful and enjoyable hike with your cat. You want to make sure that you have everything your cat needs to be comfortable, hydrated, and well-fed throughout the hike. I have a full article talking about adventure cat gear but let's talk about the specifics of hiking with your cat here.
Find more great products in our article:
When preparing for a hike with your cat, you should consider the length and difficulty of the hike, as well as the weather conditions as they are going to inform you what you need to take with you:
- Food and water: You should bring enough food and water for both yourself and your cat, as well as a water dish and bowls for feeding. I usually feed mia Raw, if you are like me, you'll need to take extra precautions for storing meat without it going bad.
- Safety gear: A cat harness and a leash are the bare minimum you need to take with you. A cat backpack or carrier is also recommended, even if they are just folded and inside your backpack.
- Shelter and clothing: If you are planning a long hike or an overnight, consider bringing warm clothes for your cat as well. It can get chilli at night and as mentioned earlier, cats aren't great at dealing with extreme temperatures.
How to know if my cat is comfortable during a hike?
Your cat's comfort and security are of utmost importance during a hike. This is what's going to allow you to repeat the experience in the future. You want to make sure that your cat is not overexerted, overheated, or exposed to any major discomfort on the trail.
Starting with short hikes and gradually increasing the length and difficulty will help you understand how much your cat wants to take.
Regular breaks and access to water and food and allowing them to hop on and off your shoulder/backpack as they please are also important for maintaining your cat's comfort and energy levels.
Always monitor your cat's behavior and energy levels, and be prepared to cut the hike short if necessary.
Do I need a special carrier for my cat on a hike?
When considering a carrier or backpack for hiking with your cat, there are several things to consider:
- Safety: Make sure that the carrier will keep your cat secured when inside and that it comes with a leash in case you don't have one of your own. Keeping your cat on your shoulder if need to can be key.
- Comfortable for the Cat: make sure that the carrier is comfortable and sturdy, with enough room for them to move around and stretch. A wabbling carrier might make the adventure a lot less comfortable for your cat.
- Comfortable for the Human: While a carrier to go to the vet might be flimsy and uncomfortable, if you are going to hike for a few miles/km with your cat on your shoulder, you want a comfortable backpack. Think also about the storage space you need depending on the length of the hike.
Some carriers even have additional features such as a built-in water dish or a detachable bed for your cat to rest on.
Can I bring my cat on a long hike?
Bringing a cat on a long hike can be a great experience for both you and your furry friend, but it is important to consider your cat's physical ability and overall health before embarking on a long hike. While some cats can handle longer hikes, others may not be able to handle the physical or psychological demands.
- The cat: Consider the age and overall health of your cat before deciding to bring them on a long hike. Kittens, elderly cats, or cats with health issues may not be able to handle a long hike, while a young and healthy cat may be able to handle a longer hike with ease.
- The hike: You should also consider the physical demands of the hike, including the terrain, the altitude, and the length of the hike, before deciding whether or not it is appropriate for your cat.
- Your experience: Also think about how experienced are you on hiking with cats. If you have not done it before, it might be a good idea to start with something easier.
If you decide to bring your cat on a long hike, it is important to be prepared to carry your cat if they become too tired or to provide breaks along the way if they need to rest. Additionally, it is important to keep a close eye on your cat and be able to stop and turn around if you notice any signs of distress.
Is it Legal to Bring a Cat on a Hike in a National Park or Forest?
Taking your cat on a hike in a national park or forest can be a great adventure, but it is important to know the regulations and laws regarding pets in these areas. In the US, most national parks and forests have restrictions on where pets can go and what they can do, such as being limited to designated trails or campgrounds. This is to both keep our pets safe as well as the wildlife.
For instance, in Yellowstone, pets are limited to travel within your car, at a front country campground or within 100 feet of roads and parking lots.
It is important to research the specific policies of the area you plan to hike in before bringing your cat.
To help with this problem we created a map with cat friendly places you can visit with your cat around the globe. You can also help us make the database bigger by submitting your proposals.
Most parks may also require pets to be leashed at all times, while others may have more lenient policies. It is also important to follow any posted signs or rules regarding pets in the area to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and your cat.
If you find a park you can go to, it is important to clean up after your cat and dispose of waste properly to help protect the natural environment and wildlife in the area.
What Do I Do if My Cat Gets Lost While Hiking?
Taking your cat on a hike can be a wonderful experience, but it is important to be prepared in case of an emergency. I used to think that you can have "everything under control" until my cat Mia escaped from a hotel room during a trip to Mexico.
If your cat gets lost while hiking, it is important to act quickly and search the surrounding area thoroughly. I created a lost cat protocole you can follow. If you were not lucky in your search, contact local animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers to report your missing cat and notify veterinarians in the area as well.
Protecting a Cat from Predators While Hiking
Being aware of the potential dangers of predators in the area is an important piece of hiking and going on adventures with your cat. Whether you are hiking in a national or state park, forest, or a more urban environment, it is important to take measures to protect your cat from potential predators.
One of the best ways to protect your cat from predators while hiking is to keep your cat on you, either on your shoulder or on your backpack. Carrying them on a backpack will also make your cat less noticeable to predators. If you choose to carry your cat in a backpack, be sure to select a backpack that is specifically designed for pets and is comfortable and secure for your cat.
Teaching your cat to ride on your shoulder
Keeping your cat on a leash will also allow you to react and protect them from predators as well as getting lost. Additionally, you can supervise your cat closely and be alert for any signs of danger, such as growling or hissing from wild animals.