Take Your Cat on an Excellent Adventure

This story is part of Treehugger's news archive. Learn more about our news archiving process or read our latest news.
You don't have to leave your cat at home when you go exploring. By Grigorita Ko/Shutterstock

Who said dogs should have all the fun?

Plenty of cats aren't content to lie sleepily on a window ledge while the family heads off hiking. With a little (OK, maybe a lot) of preparation, you can take your feline friend on outdoor excursions with you.

"You see cats climbing, hiking and camping and think that's something you totally do with your dog. But it's something you can do with your cat, too. It's just people look at you a lot more strangely."

So says MNN's Laura Moss, who has written about hiking with cats, as well as probably the most famous adventure kitty, Craig Armstrong's rock-climbing cat Millie.

Moss, who has two rescue cats and a dog of her own, decided to combine her love of cats with her love of the great outdoors. But when she went online to look for resources about how she could train her kitties to walk on a harness outdoors and tips for turning them into hiking companions, she didn't find much. That's how she came to create AdventureCats.org. In addition to the website, you can follow the Instagram and Facebook accounts, which are filled with people and their pets fine-tuning their outdoor skills.

"I was overwhelmed. I kind of thought there were a lot of people and cats who did this, but I didn’t realize there were so many," says Moss. "There are people riding bikes or canoeing or kayaking with their cats or taking them camping. I think that's why people are so interested. They also didn’t know you could do all those things with a cat."

Moss hopes that AdventureCats will become a resource for pet owners who want to learn how to safely take their cats with them into the great outdoors. That includes information on everything from basic training and fitting a harness to determining if your cat even has the right personality for these kinds of adventures. There will also be profiles of cats and their owners who have mastered the whole amazing journeys thing. Plus, Moss hopes the site will help break down negative stereotypes about cats and their owners — and maybe even lead to more adoptions.

Posts show cats lazing about in campsite hammocks, drinking from mountain streams, riding in backpacks, and having fun in canoes and kayaks.

"While cats have a reputation as being lazy and aloof, there are actually plenty of badass cats out there that will join you on the trail, scale mountains, and even go for a dip," says Moss. "These are the kitties we want to spotlight."

Getting started on cat-friendly adventures

Before Moss ever took her cats outside, she taught them some simple commands. Most importantly, she taught them to come when she called their names.

"More people have ideas on how to train a dog, but not how to train a cat. But it's not all that different," she says. "I was wary of taking them outdoors the first time. I wanted to train them to come in case they got out of the harness or got spooked and got away."

When she was ready to take her cat, Sirius, outside, Moss says he was excited but cautious. He stayed low to the ground with wide-eyed excitement and was a big fan of checking out the grass. When they went back inside, he scratched the door to go back out. She's doing the same with her other cat, Fiver.

fiver the cat on a harness
Laura Moss's cat, Fiver, explores the neighborhood. Cody Wellons/flickr

If you don't see similar innate curiosity in your cat, he or she may not be cut out for a great outside adventure.

"It's completely normal for your cat to be timid and scared for the first time, but if he's absolutely terrified, then don't force it," Moss suggests.

Some cats, she admits, might be content to watch the world go by from a perch at the window.

Even if you do convince your feline companion to become an outdoor lover, you never know what kind of adventurer you're going to get, says Moss.

"Not all cats will walk like a dog. Some cats just meander around for a little bit and then want to call it a day."