Adventures with cats are still quite rare, so people have a lot of questions. Get expert answers to the most common inquiries about cat tourism.
It is unusual to see cats walking down a path or riding in a backpack, so we get a lot of questions when we are on adventures with our cats, fish and chips. People are curious and we are happy to share our experience. Below we answer some of the most common questions we have received about cat tourism.
Tips for hiking with cats
How old were Pisces and Chips when you started taking them on adventures?
We started taking Fish and Chips with us when they were kittens. The day we adopted Fish, we put him in a small harness as soon as we drove him to the car. He was on his first hike at nine weeks, even though he was half asleep in his backpack! And at three months we took him on his first multi-day trip to California.
When we received Chips, he started in the harness of Fish’s kitten and went out on the trails the next day. Kittens adapt better than older cats, so exposing fish and chips to as many things as possible while they are young makes learning easier.
READ MORE ⇒ Choosing the right belt for your cat
What is tourism with your cats?
This is a question we get a lot of. People see our photos on Instagram and think we carry cats to beautiful places just to make them. This is not so. When we walk, cats spend a lot of time walking and running on the aisle and move on our backpacks only when their feet have problems with endurance.
How did you train your cats to walk on a leash? And how to make them follow you?
Training a cat to walk on a leash requires time and a lot of patience. People suggest that the process will be similar to training a puppy on a leash, which is far from the truth.
When we first started, our “walks” were to let the cats wander around or carry them in a backpack. They did not know how to follow the path, nor were they interested in us. The outside world was far more interesting, and they wanted to explore it on their own schedule.
Getting them used to being outdoors and feeling comfortable with the sights and sounds was the first step. Once they were calmer outside, we could give them a little more freedom.
We used retractable leashes, which were essential in training cats to follow us. The longer straps allowed them to move 20 feet away, so they felt independent. But when they reached the end of the leash, a gentle tug let them know it was time to catch up. When they reached us, the treat provided a positive boost and let them know that staying close means more snacks!
After years of hiking together, we have reached a point of trust. We now use regular leashes and often let them go, leaving the cats to drag them behind. This allows us to step on the leashes if we need to get the cats out quickly (if there is a dog on the trail), but it also gives them a real sense of freedom.
What harnesses and straps do you use?
Fish wear the harness in a vest and Chips wear the H-style harness. For more information on our harness selection, see our post on Choosing the Right Harness for Your Cat.
We started with bungee straps for training backpacks because they were safer when cats jumped out of packages. We then moved on retractable straps to help with strap training. Since then, we have become ordinary 6-foot leashes because they are easy to pack and make it easier for kittens to roam when possible.
How do you deal with the dangers your cats may encounter when traveling?
People tend to be afraid to let their cats out, which is understandable. They are just like any other member of the family and we feel a responsibility to protect them. What we’re trying to change is the way people look at cats. They need exercise and stimulation, just like dogs.
There are many dangers that traveling cats can encounter, including wild animals, unfriendly dogs, parasites, toxic panties and more. But, just like humans and dogs, the positive results of tourism certainly outweigh the negatives!
You definitely need to be careful and take action, but that doesn’t mean your cat should never leave the house. Some of the steps we take to ensure the safety of fish and chips is to always keep them in sight, make sure they are harnessed at all times with identification labels on the harnesses, microchip them and keep them out of the way. strap until we were 100% sure they would come on call.
How do you deal with them who need a waste bin? Will they go out?
We always carry a waste box with us. In fact, we have one that stays in the car permanently. With that in mind, we once embarked on a multi-day backpack adventure with Fish and he went outside. Although he didn’t seem too pleased.
What do you pack for a day with cats?
The main things we take together for a day trip with the cats include: a trash can, water bottles, folding containers, treats and leashes. Depending on the weather, we can also pack cat jackets if we are worried about them being cold.
What advice do you have for meeting other people or dogs on the trail?
We have never had major problems with dogs. We avoid dog areas outside the leash out of respect for dogs and their people, and we take fish and chips whenever we see a dog approaching. Often the dog does not even notice the cats.
Our meetings with people on the trails mostly involve asking for pictures or saying “there’s something you don’t see every day.” We appreciate the opportunity to educate people about the joys of meeting their cats.
READ MORE ⇒ Management of cat tourism greetings
How did you teach your cats to ride on their backpacks?
When Fish was little, we put him in the backpack when he got tired during the hike, and he looked quite pleased. As he grew, he learned to balance on the pack or ride on our shoulders. This was essential to us, so we taught Chips the same thing when he showed up.
It took Fish some time to figure out how to fit comfortably in the package, as he wanted to inspect everything that passed. The chips, on the other hand, were naturally calm in the backpack and required very little practice.
Something that can help train older cats is to start in an environment that is comfortable for them, such as in the house or backyard.
What complications does tourism with two cats add?
Adding chips to our family definitely came with some challenges, but it was worth it. Fish and chips are very different, so it can be difficult to find activities that they both enjoy. For example, Pisces prefers warm, dry weather and loves the desert. Chips, on the other hand, prefer lower temperatures and lots of trees.
Also, if you want to explore with two cats at the same time, it’s best to have two people. Taking a cat out on its own can be difficult enough. Trying to take two is almost impossible and will give you a new assessment of the phrase “it’s like grazing cats.”
Having two cats also means that we can no longer take turns carrying one on our backpacks, as we did when it was just Pisces. Now we both have a kitten to deal with, so we need to be fit enough to carry our pack and cat.
Do you need special vaccinations or flea / tick medications for cats?
When traveling, it is important that your cat keeps up with their vaccines. We have crossed the Canadian / American border with our cats several times and only a copy of their rabies certificates is required.
As for flea and tick medications, we have never given them to any cat and they have never had fleas. Once the chips really had a check mark and we removed it. If you are going to explore areas where ticks are very common, we recommend that you consult your veterinarian.
What is your favorite hiking trail on Vancouver Island?
Vancouver Island is so beautiful and there are tons of hiking trails to explore! We live in Parksville and enjoy the local trails along the Anglisman River and the Little Qualicum Falls. However, our favorite will be the Juan De Fuca trail on the west bank between the Jordan River and Port Renfrew.
Is traveling with cats complicated?
Like taking any other pet, traveling with your cat in the car requires a little extra planning. You need to think about what you will do with the cats when you go somewhere they can’t – like in a grocery store. Will they be too hot in the car? Do you have room in the car for a trash can? What about spending the night outside the home? Do you do more tents or hotel accommodation?
READ MORE ⇒ Tips and tricks for traveling on the road with cats
When we take Fish and Chips on longer trips, we camp in the car for the most part. But we usually book a few nights at a hotel to have a safe place to stay while exploring a city or doing an activity they can’t.
If we have to stop and pick up groceries when the weather is warm, one of us gets in while the other waits in the car. If the weather is mild enough to leave them in the car, we make sure there is food, water, a trash can and a little fan.
Like everything else, traveling with cats presents some new challenges, but a little planning and a willingness to adapt make it enjoyable for you and your feline friend!
If you have questions about the adventure cat trip that we have not answered, leave a note in the comments below!
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