Monday, December 22, 2014

How to take your cat on a day hike (Yes, you read right)

Yes, a cat can go day hiking, too. Photo courtesy of Photoree.
Okay, you’re a cat lover. And you’re tired of always reading tips for taking dogs on the trail. It’s long past due for some equal time, isn’t it?

Though some may laugh, the reality is a leashed cat can go day hiking with you. Cats can be trained to do many of the things that dogs are capable of, such as play fetch. Because of a cat’s size, though, we usually don’t do that (Ever see a cat try to catch a Frisbee? Doesn’t work. But a crumpled scrap of paper? She’ll love the game.).

To get your cat to be a great day hiking companion, follow these basic guidelines:
g Start young – A friendly kitten that travels a lot will be more willing to go on a hike. Not so with an older cat that finds new situations uncomfortable.
g Train ‘em like a dog – Use the same principles of reward and association to get a cat to stay in a leash and to follow you commands.
g Keep Max and Chloe safe – Your cat should remain on a leash and in sight at all times. Eagles and coyotes will have no problem making lunch out of your cat should it scamper off.
g Slow down – Unlike a dog, a cat can’t make the long steps to keep up with a human. That means a slower pace and shorter distances. If you want to get quickly to a specific point, you’ll need to get a cat carrier that you place atop your backpack.
g Don’t forget the kitty treats – Just like a dog, your cat will need water and a snack for the trail. Be sure to bring some. Just don’t mix up the treats with your trail mix.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.