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Something that has been getting more popular in the last few years is hiking with cats. It seems like something your pet wouldn’t really want to do but the truth is it can be a very enjoyable thing for your feline friend.
But to be able to do such a thing with your cat you most likely will need to train them first otherwise its probably not going to go too well. With a few preparations and a little time your cat will be trailing with you in no time. So lets get into how to hike with your cat.
Before The Hike…
Best Cat Breeds For Hiking
The first thing you need to consider is if your cat will even be fit to live this hiking lifestyle. Most cat breeds will do well hiking if they are trained well enough but there are some that are more likely to be open to doing this type of thing than others.
• Bengal Cat
This cat is a cross breed between leopards and domestic cats so this breed naturally will do well in the outdoors. They are also good candidates because they are very adventurous, curious cats that really like to explore a lot.
• Japanese Bobtail Cat
These types of cats are really social and like to be around other people so these cats would do really well with hiking being that they will be spending time with their owner and maybe other people that will be hiking with you.
• Pixie-Bob Cat
This is another really social cat that would do well with hiking. Its also very calm so it’s a lot less likely that they will freak out if something happens during the hike.
• Russian Blue Cat
If you want another cat breed that is really calm this would be another really good choice to go with.
• Maine Coon Cat
If you want a larger cat to tag along with you in your hiking adventures this is the one to go with. These cats can also handle really harsh weather conditions and would be a really good cat to hike with.
• Abyssinian Cat
Abyssinian’s are one of the most intelligent cat breeds you can own so as a result they would be a really good cat breed to train to hike with you.
• Somali Cat
These cats are essentially the long haired version of the Abyssinian cat so you would want to hike with this breed for the same reason as the Abyssinian.
If you are hiking in colder weather they might be the better choice for you as they have longer fur.
• Savannah Cat
These cats are a hybrid cat breed between a serval and a domestic cat. They are partially a wild cat so they would be the perfect type of cat to hike with as they have really high energy levels. These cats are however very expensive and can cost thousands of dollars to own one.
As I said, the thing about hiking with a cat is almost any breed will work well. As long as they are open to adventure and aren’t really skittish and scared of everything they are most likely a good candidate for your hiking trip.
Cat Hiking Gear
This is the next thing you need to consider. When you go out hiking for the first time you’ll want to be prepared with the right gear especially if something bad happens or if there is bad weather conditions. Here is my guide that I wrote here “Cat Hiking Gear: What You Should Bring“.
After you get all the right gear for your cat you will have to train them to walk. Just like a dog your cat also needs to be on a leash. But the thing with cats is you can’t just go outside and just do it like you would with a dog. They have to get used to it first.
If you want to do this It might take a few days, months or never at all. It all depends on your cat and their personality. I wrote a guide on harness training for both cats and kittens which you can find here “How To Leash Train A Kitten: A Complete Guide“.
It would also be a good idea that they wear a harness or anything in general that is really bright colored so if you happen to loose your cat for whatever reason they will be much easier to find.
If you want some idea on which harness you should get for your cat I made a big list here of some of my favorites to use “Best Cat Harnesses You Can Buy“.
What Is The Weather Like?
You want to know what the weather is going to be like before you go out. It might not be a good idea to hike if its raining or if it too hot or cold. You want to walk in weather that is comfortable to be in for a long time.
Cats can deal with hot and cold weather no better than you can so what ever is comfortable to you will most likely be comfortable for your cat as well. You might also want to bring sunscreen if your cat is a hairless breed or has really short hair.
Vaccinations And Flea Tick And Heartworm Prevention Medicine
Make sure your cat is vaccinated because they could get diseases from other animals that aren’t vaccinated themselves. You want to make sure that you have flea, tick and heartworm prevention treatments as well or your cat could be in for a load of health problems down the line.
What Vaccines Do Cats Need?
There are some things that I would recommend getting done. Some of them include:
This one is highly recommended. If your cat gets bit by an animal in the wild they are at risk of getting this.
This is something you should also get done as it is spread by animals body fluids, feces and even fleas.
• Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
Or the feline influenza, feline coryza, and feline pneumonia. You should get this done if your cat is around other cats a lot.
• Feline Calicivirus
This is also another one that I would suggest getting if your cat is around other cats and you don’t want them getting infected.
• Feline Leukemia
If you are around other cats at the campsite and your pet happens to be exposed to this without a vaccine it could be potentially lethal.
When Should A Cat Get A Vaccine?
You should do this around 6 to 8 months and they should get them every 3 to 4 weeks. An adult cat however only needs shots every 3 years but it really depends on how long the treatment is designed to last.
Its a good idea to have a collar with identification or a micro chip in them just in case they get lost. Make sure their tags have your name, phone number and address on it so it will make it much easier to find them if someone comes across your lost pet.
As for the microchip, its also a good idea to have one of these because if someone steals them you can prove you own the cat if they don’t give them up.
Take It Slow At First
If you have a cat that is new to this type of thing you want to take it slow. Don’t go on a huge hike the first time you go out. Go 2 or 3 miles then gradually build up the length of time you go out. If you have a kitten don’t let them walk too long as they are still growing.
Cat Hiking Backpacks
If you have an older cat or one with medical conditions they may never be able to walk really far. If you want to take them out anyway you might want to get a cat hiking backpack instead so it’s a lot easier on them. They are like a typical backpack but they are designed to put a cat inside of them.
You would think cats wouldn’t like these things but they can actually be quite enjoyable for them.
The “Lemonda Portable Travel Pet Carrier Backpack (click for amazon link)“, or “FurryFido Classic Reversible Dog & Cat Carrier Sling (click here for the chewy.com link) would be good choices.
If you want more ideas on which backpacks to use I have a list of some of my personal favorites at this page here “Best Cat Backpacks That I Recommend“.
Make sure to bring plenty of water while you are on a walk like this. Your cat is going to be walking a lot so naturally they are going to get dehydrated a lot easier. Don’t let them drink from streams, rivers or any other water source as they could get parasites such as Giardia, Cryptosporidiosis or other types of nasty bacteria such as Leptospirosis you want to stay away from.
You also want them to stay away from water with blue/green algae especially in the summer time as this can produce toxins that are not only harmful to humans but cats as well. When you do give them water make sure they drink at least every 2 hours while on the hike.
Food Is Also A Good Idea
If you are going to be walking a long time you should have some food for them while you are on the trail. They are going to be burning a lot of energy so you want to replenish that.
Go When Your Cat Wakes Up
Cats need 20 hours of sleep so if you try to get them to go hiking with you when they are about to sleep they will not like it at all and will be too tired. Make sure they have a lot of energy as hiking is a lot of work to do.
Consider Where You Are Hiking
Some cats don’t like hiking in certain terrains. Some may like going up inclines and others might like flatter terrain. If you are hiking in the snow they may also not like this and won’t walk with you.
How Long Should You Hike With Your Cat?
When you are on a hike with your cat its best to walk about a mile or two. Any more than that they will probably be tired at that point so you’ll want to pick them up and put them in your carrier then let them do some more hiking after they rested for a while. Some cats can walk more than this however.
Now that you have done all of the preparations lets get into the fun part.
Hiking The Appalachian Trail With A Cat
If you are going to hike the Appalachian Trail with a cat keep in mind that cats can’t walk extreme distances so you will have to carry them a lot of the time.
During The Hike…
If you are by the road when starting your hike pick up your cat and put them down after you are a good distance away from the road. The noise of the cars can potentially scare them.
Avoid Dogs And Children
Don’t hike anywhere where you think dogs are going to be around as cats will not be happy about this and they might even get attacked. Children could potentially frighten your cat.
If you get into a situation where you see either of them its a good idea to pick up your cat at that point then put them down when you are far enough.
Watch What They Are Doing
They are going to be on a harness so they shouldn’t get into too much trouble and its something you should be doing anyway but there are a lot of dangers that your cat could run into if you are too careless and don’t watch what they are doing.
There are plants such as Poison Ivy that can rub onto your cat and affect you or other plants that may be toxic if they decide to eat them. Water from streams and rivers could also have bacteria so don’t let them drink out of any of those. You also have the dangers of wildlife possibly harming your pet as well such as eagles, hawks or even snakes.
When Your Cat Gets Tired
There is going to be a point where they can’t walk anymore. You will know this happens when they start getting really sluggish. When this happens just put them in a carrier while your are doing the rest of the walk.
I would go with one of the cat sling carriers when this does happen because you can just wear it on the side and not have to take off your gear. You could also perch them on top of your backpack as well which I’ve seen other hikers do.
If your cat decides to go to the bathroom you always want to clean it up because its harmful to other animal if you leave it there. Bringing poop bags is always a wise thing to do.
If you want a suggestion on what you should bring I would go with “Pogi’s Poop Bags (click here for the chewy.com link)“. These are a really good choice and are leak proof and made out of recyclable materials.
Check For Ticks
This is something that you should get into the habit of doing in my opinion. When you are done with the hike its always wise to check for ticks if your cat happened to get any. This should be quite easy to do if your cat has really short hair but this might be a bit time consuming if your cat has much longer hair.
How To Prevent Ticks On Cats?
Ticks are a real drag to get off of your pet but you can take measures so its a lot less likely to happen and you won’t have to pull them off as often.
If your cat happens to be ok with water or you are willing to go through the trouble of getting them into a bath you can wash them with shampoos with medicated ingredients that will kill ticks on contact.
These really only protect the neck and head areas of your cat but they can add a layer of protection if its something you are willing to do. You should never get collars with the chemical “Amitraz”.
A good collar that you could go with is the “Seresto Flea & Tick Collar for Cats (click here for the chewy.com link)“. This collar will give you 8 months of protection from ticks or fleas and kills existing ones as well.
• Tick Dips
This is a chemical you delude with water that can be applied to your cat with a sponge to prevent ticks from getting on your cat. I don’t recommend doing this if you happen to have a younger cat or kitten.
You can buy medications that your cat can take and it will keep parasites away from your pet for up to a month. I would be very careful with giving your cat these types of medications and I would also ask your vet about doing something like this as well.
What If You Have A Tick Head Stuck In Your Cat?
What if you have a tick head stuck inside of your cat? The truth is it’s not really something to be concerned about at all. Your cats body will just reject the tick head with pus just like any other infection.
You only want to take them to the vet if there is a large sore that wont go away. Otherwise it’s something that isn’t very concerning. Here is a veterinarians opinion about this issue on a page that I found https://www.justanswer.com/veterinary/43bml-not-sure-tick-head-cat-will-happe.html.
If you do everything in this guide you should have yourself a hiking cat.