How To Train Your Cat To Be Adventurous Outdoor

Are you ready to hit the road with your feline friend? The term “adventure cat” is booming, and traveling with a cat is becoming almost as popular as with a dog. Cats, however, need more training and preparation than dogs to be comfortable in the outdoors and in unfamiliar environments.

But with enough training and patience, it’s totally possible to train a cat to love being outdoors.

In this post, I’ll share some of the basic training steps we use to teach our cat, Maya, to be comfortable and happy being outdoors. 

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Introducing a Cat Backpack to Your Cat

This is the simplest and fastest way to introduce your cat to the outside world. If your cat feels safe staying inside a backpack, your cat would feel comfortable pretty much anywhere.

Cat in cat backpack, going for a walk
One of Maya’s first days in her cat backpack

To do so, you will need to follow the steps below. Each step might take a few days (or less, hopefully) to a few weeks (or more, unfortunately), depending on the cats, so just be patient, and you’ll get there someday!

Travel Cat Navigator Carrier Bag
$159.95 ($159.95 / Count)

We've used five different backpacks, and we prefer the Travel Cat Navigator the most. Comfortably sits on your back and is made from high-quality materials. And large enough to fit most regular-sized cats.

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04/08/2024 04:01 pm GMT

1. Place the Backpack With Favorite Toys & Blanket Inside

In general, cats are always curious about new things but never let their guard down.

The first thing you can do is place the backpack near your cat’s favorite toy or blanket. The goal is for the cat to feel that the backpack’s presence is no longer intimidating and simply a part of his or her daily routine.

2. Reward Your Cat When It Interacts With the Backpack

If your cat starts to do anything with the backpack, such as sniff around or play & sleep inside, reward your cat with treats EVERY SINGLE TIME. You want your cat to associate being in the backpack with a pleasant experience.

3. Walk Your Cat in the Backpack Inside the House

Once your cat is comfortable enough being inside the backpack, it’s finally time to start walking! Walk around inside the house for a few minutes to start with, increase the time, and change the location daily. Then, you can do the same practice in the backyard or outside your house. Repeat this routine total for a week at least, and don’t forget to give him or her a treat after each walk!

Tip: If your cat is uncomfortable with you walking, you can start practicing by holding a backpack in front but not on your back without walking, giving a treat, and then putting the backpack down. Repeat this exercise a couple of times every day before mealtime until your cat is comfortable with the movement of the backpack.

4. Walk Your Cat Outside in the Backpack

Once your cat gets used to being in a backpack while walking in the house, it’s time to go outside!

Cats are very sensitive to sound, so pick a place in the neighborhood where it’s quiet. Go to the same place to walk daily until your cat is comfortable enough.  After that, you can pick a different location and then do the walk for another few days. You can pick a few places and mix up the location to walk, just like you practiced inside of your house.

Remember to bring your treats!

Note: At any point, if your cat is scared or stressed, just end the practice and try the next day. The last thing you want is for your cat to think that being in the backpack and walking is a negative thing.

Socializing a Cat With Other Humans & Dogs

Training an adventure cat is difficult if your cat is scared of other humans and dogs. When you backpack walk your cat, add a spot where humans and dogs are around.

I recommend a pet-friendly cafe, preferably with outdoor seating, and avoid rush hour. Cafes are a great place to start getting your cat comfortable with other humans and dogs because people and dogs are usually seated and relaxed.

There isn’t much opportunity for confrontation in a cafe.

Cat and dog playing alone under an RV
Maya playing with a new friend

Harness & Leash Training

Once your cat is comfortable with a backpack, it’s time to introduce a harness & leash. Although it is more tricky to train than a backpack, being actually able to walk on their feet outside is a great way for cats to get physical exercise and mental stimulation without being in danger outdoors.

Cat walking with harness and leash
Harness & leash training Maya

1. Introduce Harness and Leash Without Putting Them On

Practice the exact same training as a backpack. The first goal is to make your cat comfortable with these items being around always. Place the items near their favorite place, and put them close to the food bowl at meal time. Every time your cat shows any curiosity or reactions around these items, give them a treat.

2. Show the Harness and Leash in Your Hand Without Putting Them On the Cat

Introduce the harness & leash in your hand; every time your cat shows any positive reaction, like sniffs or touches them, reward them with treats. Do this exercise between meal times for a few days to a week when your cat is hungry.

3. Put the Harness on Your Cat

Try putting the harness on your cat without buckling or tightening it. I recommend doing this just before mealtime so that your cat associates wearing a harness with yummy food.

If your kitty seems happy and doesn’t mind wearing the harness, slowly fasten and adjust the harness. It should not be too tight on the body; you should be able to put two fingers inside. Once it perfectly fits, reward them with their favorite treat immediately.

Repeat this exercise for at least a week; make them wear it a little longer each day.

4. Walking on the Leash Indoors

Once your cat walks comfortably with the harness on, it’s time to move on to leash training. Attach the leash slowly and walk behind your cat with loose tension. Never pull or try to drag your cat towards the way you want to walk. If the cat starts walking toward somewhere that is very hard for humans to walk into, just drop the leash and let it drag behind your cat. (Ensure the leash doesn’t tangle!)

Walk on a leash with loose tension, then drop, and let your cat walk themselves. Repeat this exercise for at least a few days before mealtime so that your cat gets used to the feeling of the leash having loose and tight tension. Don’t forget to reward them after each practice!

5. Leash training outdoors

With the harness and leash on, let your cat observe outside with the door open for a while. Then, carry your cat and put him or her down on the ground outside.

Start exploring the outside perimeter of your house so your cat can get familiar with the territory just outside. Your cat probably won’t walk straight like a dog, but be patient and never force your cat to walk more than he or she wants to because you don’t want your cat to think walking is a negative experience. Reward during and after the walk, and increase the walking time a little bit more each day.

Note: For your cat’s safety, do not throw the treat when you open the door because it encourages them to dash through the door independently. Always carry them when going outside and putting your cat down.

Things To Consider When Leash Walking Your Cat

Cat that is on a leash looking up a tree
Leash training Maya in a Guatemala hostel

1. Pick a Quiet Place and Time

Cats are very sensitive to noise and fast movement. Especially at the beginning of training, you should avoid the place with busy traffic of cars, people, and dogs. The early stage is crucial to the leash & harness training; the negative experience in the stage would affect further training, and it may cause your cat to be traumatized by walking outdoors.

2. Leash Train Your Cat Before Mealtime

To train your cat, your cat needs to be food-motivated. If your cat doesn’t walk straight towards you (cats usually want to zigzag walk to observe and explore the surroundings), you can guide him or her with a treat. It also encourages cats to have a more positive experience with frequent snacks given; they can associate walking with yummy treats = a positive experience.

3. Bring a Cat Backpack With You

No matter how short the distance or time of your leash walk would be, make sure to bring a backpack with you. Cats only do what they want to do; they can boycott walking more in the middle of the way. It is important always to have an easy solution to transport your cat with you, in case your cat doesn’t like to be held in your arms for long.

4. Keep Up to Date on Vaccinations and Flea/Tick Medication

Going outside means your cat is more likely to be exposed to other animals, fleas, and ticks. Ensure your cat has an up-to-date rabies vaccination, and ask your doctor for a prescription for high-quality flea medications.

5. Use A Collar With An ID Tag

If your cat gets away from you, ensure it has a collar with your contact number on it.

Essential Items for Adventure Cats

Cat laying on a picnic bench under an umbrella
Maya hanging out off-leash in Panama

The Best Overall Cat Backpack

There are so many choices of cat backs on the market today, and each has their pros and cons in each backpack, but the Travel Cat Navigator Carrier is the best choice.

  • Suitable for regular-sized cats to sit and lay down
  • Multiple windows: More visibility for cats to see outside
  • Comfortable to wear with a waist buckle
  • Sturdy / no collapsing
  • Foldable for easy storage
Travel Cat Navigator Carrier Bag
$159.95 ($159.95 / Count)

We've used five different backpacks, and we prefer the Travel Cat Navigator the most. Comfortably sits on your back and is made from high-quality materials. And large enough to fit most regular-sized cats.

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04/08/2024 04:01 pm GMT

One of the most irritating things about most backpacks is that because most of them are foldable, they have a weak, unstable bottom that makes them collapse and disrupt the shape of the backpack. Backpacks with unstable bases are very uncomfortable for cats and owners to carry.

The Best Overall Cat Harness

Our best cat harness choice is the Rabbitgoo Cat Harness & Leash. Covers all the important features of a cat harness: easy to put on, comfortable to wear, and safe.

  • Escape proof: Four adjusting straps allow a just-right fit for your flexible cat. Both sides have a sturdy safety buckle for a more secure closure
  • Soft Mesh Material: Lightweight, breathable, and comfortable for your cat
  • Bright Reflective Strap: Makes it visible in the dark
Recommended Pick
Cat Harness and Leash for Walking (Escape-Proof)

When leash training, you want a harness that the cat cannot escape. Several of the cheaper options we've used, our cat could easily 'back out' of her harness and run off. We like this design better, which is also more comfortable.

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04/21/2024 07:28 pm GMT

Best Expandable Cat Leash

If you have young and active cats, using an expandable cat leash is a good option. It stretches much longer than the regular leashes that come with the harness.

Perfect For Cats
Fida Retractable Pet Leash

Cat's don't walk like dogs and a retractible leash is what you need to give your cat the freedom it demands when walking outside. In case things get out of control, there is a useful 'brake' button to ensure the leash doesn't extend.

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  • Easy to use: Tangle-free, quick Lock, pause, and unlock button- easy Roll-On and Roll-Off with your thumb only.
  • Great Lenth: Small size is 16ft long, suitable for adult cats who love to roam around
  • Durable: It contains an anti-twist inlet with strong reflective tape and a rustproof hook.

Final Thoughts About Training A Cat To Be Adventurous

Cat laying in a tree
Maya keeping cool in the shade of a tree

All cats are different and unique in their own ways, just like humans. Your cat might enjoy the outdoors just watching outside from a safe place or running and climbing up the trees by themselves. It’s essential to find the best solution for your cats to enjoy the outdoors with proper items and training. We all want our cats to be healthy and happy and to experience the outdoors in any way, either in a backpack or on a leash, to help them become more stimulated and active and to eat and sleep better.

Please let us know in the comments section below if you have any questions about traveling with your cat in a camper van.

Happy traveling!

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