Updated: Mar 10
What you take on an adventure with your cat depends of course first and foremost on what kind of adventure you are going on and the weather. Next, it depends on your cat’s specific needs. For instance, the temperatures at which your cat begins to feel too hot or too cold can be very different to those of another cat. The better you know your cat, the better you can prepare for your adventure. – This gets me to the final point: It also depends on how much can carry. Ideally, you will have another person to accompany you who can carry some of the gear, have a car nearby that you can leave things in, or even both. Most times, Percy and I have neither available, so it’s important to me to have a cat-pack with decent-sized pockets, and in addition, I always wear a waist pack.
Here are my packing lists for my adventures with Percy, divided into the general basics for going outdoors, and add-ons for adventures, as well as cold- and hot-weather specific gear.
Some items have embedded links. Click on those links or scroll down to find out more about these items!
– For our daily little outings in the yards around our apartment building or areas right next to an accommodation that we are staying in (or: any familiar, relatively safe outdoor environment, next to or very close to your home/accommodation)
Collar and ID tag with Percy’s name, my phone number, and the text “please call my mom”
Secure harness (see blog post on HARNESS TIPS & REVIEWS)
Cat-pack (backpack or bag) (see blog post on CAT-PACK REVIEWS)
Small waist pack with a squeeze treat and a few poop bags (also contains my phone and keys if I don’t have other pockets)
ADD-ONS FOR ADVENTURES
– Going hiking or for longer walks beyond the areas right around our home or accommodation (or: going anywhere further than ~5 minutes walk from your home/accommodation, with or without a car)
All the Basics
Potentially a larger waist pack if I can’t fit all I need in the cat-pack pockets.
Collapsible cat bowl
Large microfiber towel or similar (- To use to quickly pick up Percy in emergencies and transfer him to the safety of the cat-pack, especially if I’m wearing something with short sleeves!)
A small whistle (- Cat needs to be whistle-trained before that)
Small spare harness as a back-up just in case
Maybe: small pack of cat wipes
Any essentials that I (the human) might need. (Don’t forget about yourself and your needs!)
ADD-ONS FOR COLD WEATHER
– Note: Cats can get frostbite on their toes and hypothermia if exposed to the cold for too long without any adequate protection!
All the Basics
Add-Ons for Adventures (if applicable)
Small blanket, or anything else that helps insulate the cat-pack, especially if it’s very airy
Maybe: heating pad
Maybe: paw-wax (we just got some but haven’t tried that yet)
Ideally: booties! (- but getting your cat to accept them and keep them on their feet might be a struggle. We haven’t tried it yet)
ADD-ONS FOR HOT WEATHER
– Note: A sign of your cat beginning to get too hot is when they are panting! This is NOT the same as when a dog pants! If you see your cat panting, make sure to take a break, get them into the shade, offer them their squeeze treat if they won't accept water, (maybe even wet their fur and especially their paws), and let them ride in the backpack rather than walk on their own, especially if the ground is hot. Consider cutting your adventure short if none of the above seems to help much.
All the Basics
Add-Ons for Adventures (if applicable)
Small electric fan
Maybe: small umbrella for shade
Maybe: cooling pad to put in a backpack pocket
Maybe: cooling scarf or vest (still not sure about those)
My Leash System:
My favorite go-to leash is the KittyCatGo hands-free Kylo Leash. It’s made out of biothane, which means it’s light, it doesn’t fray or get stuck on thorny twigs, doesn’t get soaked in rain, and it’s easy to clean! You can get it in any length between 9ft and 12ft. This might seem too long, but in fact, a long leash reduces the chances of your cat pulling a lot on the end of their leash, getting jerked, or trying to back out of their harness if they try to get out of the way of something that scares them. I usually just hold any extra length in large loops around my hand so that it doesn’t drag on the floor (see picture). If we are in an unsafe environment (e.g. next to a road) I hold those loops tight, and if we’re in a safe area, I just hold them loosely and let the leash glide through my hand whenever Percy starts to walk or run further away from me.
Prior to the Kylo Leash, I used a retractable leash. A very good one for cats is the SurferCat Leash because it has a very low pull, and a nice small and light handle. But since Percy has a habit of walking through or behind bushes where I can’t easily follow him, I found that the Kylo leash worked better for us most of the time, since I can more easily pull that through and out of the bushes on the other side, or just lift it over the top.
I always wear a belt with a D-ring, to which I attach the leash. (I use this one but without the included leash) In the case of the hands-free Kylo Leash, I can just use the clip at the end of the leash, and with any other leash (even a retractable one), I attach the handle via a large carabiner. I still mostly hold on to the leash itself, to adjust its length, etc., but having it attached to that belt means I don’t ever have to worry about accidentally dropping the leash. At the same time, I can still quickly detach it if, for example, I have to pull it out of the bushes that Percy just walked through.
On Percy’s end of the leash, I always add a short shock-absorbing leash attachment, which minimizes jerking. I still haven’t found one that I consider ideal for cats since most are so long and heavy that they pull the leash down. Short of ideal, I’m currently using this one, which is a little too stiff for my liking, but at least it’s short and light.
Ideal Treat Pouch for Cats:
I’ve been looking for the ideal treat bag for cats for ages, and finally found it! The Waggly Treat Pouch is small, easy and quick to open with one hand, and doesn’t spill treats when you run or bend forward. It even comes with its own little carabiner, with which I attach it to my leash belt. I even have two of these: one for freeze-dried (medium-value) treats for outdoors, and one for (low-value) kibble treats for training at home.
We are using the Jiobit GPS tracker, which is one of the best on the market at the moment. It is also really quite small and light for a GPS tracker and has never bothered Percy.
The only downside of a GPS tracker is that it is rather expensive, and you have to pay a monthly subscription for it, even if you are not using it. (In our case, that’s $8.99/month).
There are much cheaper tracker options, such as the Tile, or AirTag, for which you don’t need a subscription. However, they do have limitations. For example, the AirTag only works if it’s within the Bluetooth range of either your own or someone else’s iPhone, while the also Tile needs to be within range of either your own phone or someone else’s phone that has the Tile app on it. The tracking is also likely to be less accurate and there might be a delay in the signal.
In short, if you are in a populated area, something like the Tile or AirTag might be enough. But especially if you are hiking further afield, a proper GPS tracker would be of course a safer option.
How to Use Water for Hydration and Cooling:
Most cats won’t drink the water while on an adventure, even if they need it. However, you can use the water to help your cat cool down if they get too hot. Cats cool down mostly through the bottom of their paws, so if the cat lets you, you could try to put their paws in the water. Otherwise, you try to put some drops on their noses or mouths, which they can lick off, or just wet their fur anywhere else.
Squeeze Treats (aka "Churus"):
We are usually using squeeze treats from Whole Hearted from Petco (also available via Amazon, at least in the US). They are his high-value treats because he loves them! Other brands that carry very similar treats are Inaba Churu and TikiCat. Petco also carries similar but smaller tubes from a brand called Applaws, which Percy loves equally as much.
These kinds of treats contain a lot of water, which makes them ideal for hydration. If you have a collapsible cat bowl as well, you could even squeeze it into that and mix it with more water.
Pet First-Aid Kits:
There are several specific pet first-aid kits on the market. The one we have is the Alcott Explorer, which is for humans as well as pets. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the contents of it, as well as how to use them in an emergency. [Find link with more info on that!!]
Here are a couple of notes from a Pet First-Aid class that I have taken:
Hydrogen Peroxide: It’s common to find this in a pet first-aid kit. While humans can use this as an antiseptic, you MUST NOT use it in the same way for pets! (Clean wounds with just water instead). Hydrogen Peroxide can be used for animals orally, to induce vomiting in case of poisoning. - Use 1 teaspoon (for a ~10lb cat) and administer it to the side of their mouth with a syringe. - However, unless you have no other option, leave this to the vet!
Add a pack of gel capsules of the antihistamine Benadryl to your kit, which you can administer to your cat if they for example have an allergic reaction to a bee sting. (Make sure the Benadryl you get does NOT contain any extras, such as pain relief ingredients or flavors, since they might be toxic to your cat!) Also, tape a needle to the pack, which you can use to puncture the capsules and then squeeze the liquid into your cat’s mouth. [for bee stings etc]
Don't put ice on an overheated cat (since this could cause them to go into shock), nor ever put ice on wounds, especially not snakebites.
Make sure to check your cat (and yourself!) for ticks after hikes, and regularly use flee and tick preventative treatments on your cat.
Dog Repellant Sprays:
I currently have two different ones. One is “Pet Corrector”, which is only compressed air that might scare a dog, but not hurt them. The other is “Halt! Dog Repellant”, which is something like a mild pepper spray, which would cause a dog discomfort for a short time, but not cause any lasting damage.
So far, I have never used any of them, and I’m hoping that I will never have to. I would hate the idea of hurting a dog and would use them only as a last resort (especially the second one) if it looked like Percy was in immediate danger of getting injured or worse.
Cat Sweaters and Jackets:
Look for sweaters and jackets that have small an opening on the back, through which you can attach the leash to the harness that they will ideally wear underneath the clothing.
Just like with harnesses, your cat is likely to need some time and positive reinforcement to get used to wearing clothing, and different cats will also have different tolerance-levels for what or how much they are willing and comfortable to wear. Whenever I'm trying out a new piece of clothing for Percy, I give him some treats to help create positive associations, and to reward him for going through the often rather awkward process of trying on something new.
These are the sweaters and jackets we use currently are:
Kurgo “K9 Core Dog Sweater” (XS) – Great as a light sweater or base layer. Easy and quick to put on.
TrendyLittlePaws “Shacket” – Very comfortable and light sherpa-lined jacket.
MeggyTrails “Custom Cat Coat” – Great quality, custom-made, warm jacket.
Hurtta “Extreme Warmer V2” – The ultimate jacket for adventures in the snow and freezing temperatures!
Cooling scarfs and vests:
I am still a little unsure about these. Cats cool down best through their paws, rather than their skin/fur. The cat first-aid course I took also taught me not to wrap a cat in a wet towel or so to cool them down since this could produce some kind of dangerous sauna effect! Using a proper cooling vest or even just a scarf made of appropriate material (which is specifically designed to be soaked with water) is of course not quite the same, and some people seem to swear by it.
We do have a cooling scarf from KiloninerPets, which we did use a few times last summer. I honestly can’t tell if it helped or not.
I also purchased a cooling vest at the end of the season from TrendyLittlePaws that we haven’t tried yet. But I think, even if nothing else, it might at least serve as a good sun-blocker when used dry.
Make sure to also check out the adventure-prep posts of my fellow Adventure Cat Collaborative bloggers !
Percy's cat-pack reviews: CAT-PACK REVIEWS
Percy's harness reviews: HARNESS TIPS & REVIEWS
Follow Percy's adventures on Instagram: @percytheexplorercat