Updated: Mar 10
Just a disclaimer: Aries was an outdoor/indoor cat before he became an adventure cat. He lived on a 30-acre ranch with freedom to roam so he was comfortable with grass, fresh air, and dirt.This made our transition from indoor harness training to outdoor adventure a bit easier!
I think the most important thing to remember is to take things at your cat's pace. If your cat doesn't have much exposure to the outdoors, harness them up and just open the door. Let them peak their head out, sniff the air, whatever! Sometimes they're brave and step right out, other times it takes a few tries to coax them to explore outside.
It's tough finding the fine line between encouraging your kitty to explore and making sure they know they are safe and loved. Cats won't always go out on their own so the next step is to go to a quiet location near your home, riding in the backpack. This way, your cat can experience the outdoors without being vulnerable!
Don't be surprised if your feline friend isn't running and jumping around, a lot of times they like to just lay down, roll, observe birds and bugs. The more comfortable they get, the more they'll move around. Once your feline friend is comfortable going out the door, traveling in the backpack to a quiet, safe location you can try a some easy, cat friendly locations. KittyCatGo adventures has a wonderful list of Cat-Friendly Locations. Always double check with the location before visiting to make sure they're okay with a furry feline visiting! As you continue to adventure, you'll add more and more cool places to your list!
Open the front door, let your kitty venture out in their harness.
Travel by backpack to a quiet, safe, location.
Visit a cat-friendly location (start quiet - maybe a thrift store, local bookstore, quiet coffee shop in the early morning)
Try a short walk at the park.
eventually, go on longer walks that turn to hikes!
We were recently asked: "How do I get my cat to be more active when we go out?"
So, there’s a few things to try
- make sure you’re outdoor location is a spot your kitty can be comfortable (quiet, away from a lot of people, usually with some great little hideaway spots like bushes or trees so your kitty is encouraged to walk/climb to those spots and also feels like they’ve got cover in case they need to hide)
- if that’s exactly where you are taking them, try bringing one of their favorite indoor toys outside! (Kinda like playing fetch with a puppy) you can use their favorite ball/plush toy, feather stick, etc to encourage movement and fun!
To start walking on hiking trails I recommend a few additional things for picking the right location. First, take the hike by yourself first, at around the time of day you’d like to take your kitty (we found earlier is better because there’s less people). Looking for these things:
➡️ is the trail clearly marked, not just for you but for your kitty too (wide open spaces are more prone to random exploring but a narrow trail path, like a dry river bed with slight walls on the sides gives very good natural direction to your feline friend)
➡️ is there good shade/cover (we live in Arizona, shade is a serious challenge here 😂)
➡️ is there cell service
➡️ can you easily access your car if your kitty isn’t handling the adventure too well
- All these things are important for prepping an adventure. Once you’ve done your checking and are ready to go out, anticipate very slow walking from your kitty! Aries can usually walk about 2 miles or so before he gets tired but it could easily take us 3 hours to walk that distance, if I let him set the pace. So, we encourage a combination of walking and backpack riding. Usually, we start with the backpack (to get away from the parking lot and people) and after being on the trail a good while, I left Aries out to explore. Sometimes he walks around, sometimes he rolls in the dirt, it really depends. He’s out for a short while and then I’ll put him back in the pack and walk another distance (quarter of a mile or so) and let him back out to explore this spot.
🐾 sometimes he walks really well, especially if it’s an obvious path! Other times, he’s distracted with rolling around, bugs, birds, etc. the important thing is that he’s having a good time, enjoying the big beautiful world! The walking may or may not come with time but providing the experience for them is the first step and it sounds like you’re on the right track!