Skip to main content

Want to hike with your cat? Experts have strong opinions

Hiking is a fabulous activity. It gives you a chance to explore new locations, enjoy nature, and get plenty of fresh air. It also helps to keep you fit. All those benefits of hiking can also apply to your cat too — if he’s up for the adventure. Hiking with cats is an activity that’s becoming more and more popular and with good reason. Hiking not only is fun but can be an entertaining and exciting adventure for your cat too. It can help to prevent boredom, especially for an indoor-only cat. But before you hit the trails, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of hiking, as well as the type of preparation you’ll need. If you do your homework, you and your cat can enjoy many hiking adventures together.

Will my cat enjoy hiking?

Seven Hills Veterinary Hospital notes that preparation is key to a successful hiking trip with your cat, but it’s also important to understand that hiking isn’t for every cat. Cats who are skittish and who don’t tend to enjoy new adventures will probably be happier at home than on the trails. With a gradual introduction to walking on a leash and hiking, your cat may decide she enjoys this new activity.

Cat outdoors wearing a blue harness attached to a leash

How can I prepare for hiking with my cat?

It’s important to do plenty of preparation to keep your cat safe before you go hiking together. If you think that your cat would enjoy hiking, Seven Hills Veterinary Hospital suggests you schedule an appointment with your vet to make sure your cat is healthy and ready for the experience. Your vet can verify that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date and that he is on an appropriate parasite prevention plan. It’s also a great idea to microchip your cat, just in case he should get lost on the trail.

Hiking with your cat can be a fun activity for both of you, but it’s important to gradually get your cat used to the idea of heading out on the trails.

What are the risks when hiking with a cat?

According to Seven Hills Veterinary Hospital, hiking may or may not work for your cat. Some risks are involved, especially when it comes to your cat potentially getting frightened and escaping, and it’s important to be prepared for the challenges you’ll face on the trail, including parasites like ticks, issues like heat, and the possibility of bad weather. With plenty of planning, though, you and your cat should be able to enjoy hiking trails safely.

Cat sitting on a hiker's shoulders outdoors

How do I train my cat to hike?

Adventure Cats explains that you’ll need to do plenty of preparation before you take your cat on her first hike. That preparation starts with teaching your cat to wear a harness and to walk on a leash. You’ll need to start leash training your cat at home, then get her used to walking on a leash in unfamiliar surroundings. It’s also important to teach your cat to come when called, just in case you ever get separated while on a hike.

In addition to a quality harness and leash, your cat should wear an ID tag with your contact information.

Do a little research before your first trip. Make sure you choose a trail that’s appropriate for your fitness level and start with short hikes so your cat has a chance to get used to the experience. Also be sure to check the weather, since neither you nor your cat will appreciate getting caught in the rain.

It’s also important to bring along snacks and water for both you and your cat. Once you’re on the trail, take plenty of snack breaks and make sure your cat is comfortable during the experience. While your cat may walk part of the way, be prepared to pick him up and carry him as needed. Your cat will likely feel more secure and confident from the higher vantage point he’ll enjoy from your arms or shoulders.

Just like any new activity, hiking with your cat will take a bit of time to get used to. You’ll want to start small. Stick to trails you know well, keep your outings brief, and focus on making the hike an enjoyable experience for your cat. Consider connecting with other people who hike with their cats for additional advice. Most important, be patient with your cat, both during the leash-training process and as your cat gets used to being out on the trail. If you take your time and keep things positive, you might have a whole new activity you and your cat can enjoy together.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
This video shows another side to the war in Ukraine: All the cats
These cats are working alongside their humans in service to their country
Kitten peeks out of a military helmet

Pets might not be our first thought when we think about armed conflict, but they're a surprising part of it. In the current war in Ukraine, many refugees fleeing the country are bringing beloved pets with them and, luckily, neighboring countries have been able to take some of them in. Despite nearly impossible circumstances, animals are being saved and even brought to the US and going to loving families. Some, however, are living directly on the front lines with soldiers, including the adorable cats featured in this video.

In it, you see cats of all shapes and sizes hanging out with their buddies dressed in fatigues and often ready for action. The kitties climb up their people or ride along in satchels or assist the war effort by becoming lookouts (or at least pretending to). While they may not be a lot of help in that arena, they can provide friendship and become true assets to their units (some trained military dogs deploy with troops around the world to help with things like finding land mines and search and rescue). Interestingly, animals have always been essential to war, not just as the cavalry but in a companionship role as well.

Read more
These are the 10 most popular cat breeds, as counted by The Cat Fanciers’ Association
Here are the top 10 most popular cat breeds in the world
A Devon Rex cat is held up against a blue sky

The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) recognizes 46 different feline breeds, but not all of them can be the most popular. That's why the CFA took a look into its registries to determine the top 10 most popular cat breeds of 2022. It welcomes registrations from "nonstandard" and "non-pedigreed" cats as well, but those feline friends weren't included in this particular count.

Which types of cats do you think were the most popular in 2022? Whether you can list off every breed or can't even name one, we guarantee there's at least one surprise on this list.

Read more
Can large cats enjoy a cat tree? Here are the ones to get
Cat trees for large cats might be hard to find, but you can get the right one
Large black cat sits in a cat tree

While you probably know that your dog needs a decent amount of exercise, you might not realize that your cat does, too. Experts estimate that most indoor cats don't get enough exercise, and as many as 40% could be overweight or obese. Some big kitties might need a bit more, just as would be true for many dogs. One way to help encourage their heart rate is to gift them a structure. A cat tree for large cats will stimulate both their bodies and their minds.
Why do our felines love cat trees?
In the wild, cats climb trees, every one of those felines, from your escaped house cat to lions and leopards -- they all love to get height. You might also see your indoor pet trying to do the same in your house with mixed success. Many pet parents investigate a sudden noise to find their little jumper now sitting on top of the cabinets or on a bookcase. If you give them a cat tree, that will satisfy much of their need to climb. It also allows the kitty to have space to themselves up high when they want to get out of the way and burn a few of those calories.
What are the benefits of a cat tree?
Cats love to climb whether they live inside, outside, or both. Some owners like to mimic the great outdoors by installing a cat tree indoors. It should be fun for your kitty, but it will also have health benefits. This is a great way to give them a little exercise, a scratching post, and mental stimulation. Make sure to pick the right one, depending on your cat's size, interests, and behaviors.
Which one should I get for my big cat?
A large cat needs a sturdy cat tree! Stick to a few of these bigger and safer ones that will work perfectly for your larger animal.

FEANDREA 67-inch Multi-Level Cat Tree for Large Cats
This tree, aptly billed as "Exclusive Luxury for Cats," will give them plenty to do no matter what mood hits them. With this cat tree, your feline has multiple heights, hidey holes, and balls to bat on. Most importantly, it's incredibly stable and boasts high reviews -- a distinguished 4.8. One top reviewer said their 20-pound beastie even fit on it, so this one works well if you have a big kitty.

Read more