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Purr-sonality Traits of Adventure Cats: Does Your Cat Have What It Takes?

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Personality Traits of Adventure Cats | GoPetFriendly.com

There’s this relatively new and exciting term being thrown around the Internet … “adventure cats.” There are blogs, websites and Instagram pages dedicated to these funny felines, but what exactly is an adventure cat?

You won’t find a definition in the dictionary. But, as a human with two cats, Fish and Chips, who love hiking, camping, and snowshoeing, I can tell you my impression is any cat taught to live a life outside the realm of normalcy for a house cat is an adventure cat. This ranges from cats who are leash-trained to explore their backyards, to cats who go on backpacking expeditions, kayak tours, or long road trips.

As the adventure cat community grows, more and more cats and kittens are getting the opportunity to explore the world. You may see these people enjoying outdoor activities with their feline friends and think to yourself, “I want to do that!” The question is where do you start? What personality traits make a cat or kitten more likely to enjoy adventures?

Fish and Chips watching from the car on a road trip in Yellowstone.

One of the first times Chips was out in his harness.

First, you don’t need a special breed of cat in order to train him to be an adventure cat. Fish is half Bengal, half unknown, and Chips is some perfect combination of rescue kitten. That being said, there are certain innate personality traits that can be helpful when teaching a cat or kitten new behaviors.

To begin, how old is the cat? A kitten will be easier to train, but remember he’s not a dog, so “easy” is a relative term!

Next, look for a cat or kitten who is outgoing. Most kittens are adaptable and embrace new experiences, but if you have a litter to pick from, choose the craziest, boldest kitten. Basically, do the exact opposite of what most people would do!

When we adopted our first kitten, Fish, he was a tiny ball of energy. His sisters were curled up sleeping on a blanket and he was climbing our legs and getting into mischief. We knew from the first moment we saw him he’d make an ideal adventure cat, because he was filled with curiosity and a desire to explore. He was, and still is, pretty much fearless.

Fish’s first hike to Christie Falls in Kelowna, BC.

On the other hand, our second kitten, Chips, was very shy when we adopted him. He liked to play, but was generally nervous. Despite his introverted tendencies he followed in Fish’s pawprints and quickly embraced our lifestyle. The difference in Fish and Chips’ personalities really shows that nearly any cat, if introduced in a way that works for them, can become a great adventure companion.

Chips at 8 weeks old.

And look at Chips now!

Whether you already have a cat, or are thinking of adopting an adult cat, there are also some things to look for in determining whether they’re cut out to be an adventure cat. First, does your cat long to be outdoors? If your cat sits in the window all day or tries to sneak out every time you open the door, it may be easier to persuade him to go out on a leash.

The second thing to think about is how bonded is your cat to you? This is huge. To feel comfortable outdoors on a leash, your cat must trust you, and an affectionate cat is more likely to have confidence in you than one who’s more aloof.  We’ve worked on forming a strong bond with Fish and Chips, to the point that we now feel comfortable letting go of their leashes for short periods of time, because we know if they’re frightened they’ll run towards us rather than running away.

Another thing to consider is, how does your cat react to other people and animals? Whether you take your cat out for a walk around town, or hit the trails together, you’re going to meet a lot of folks who want to pet him, and you’re likely to see some dogs. Fish and Chips have spent time around dogs, but we always pick them up when we see a pup approaching – just in case. And not everyone sees a cat on a leash everyday, so it’s great if your cat is good with people. Having said all of this, if your cat is nervous around dogs or people, or if you’re worried about him taking off, you can always start out in a backpack style carrier or pet stroller. This will allow him to get accustomed to new surroundings and faces while in a safe place.

Fish going for a walk with his golden retriever pal, Dublin.

Exploring around a backcountry campsite.

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to training an adventure cat, and we’d never deny that it can be difficult and frustrating at times. However, with the right cat and an open mind it can be exceptionally rewarding for both you and your feline friend!

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  • Kylie O’Brien YAY!! I’m excited for you both. I’ll look forward to hearing how it goes – good luck!

  • GoPetFriendly.com Thank you! I’ve been thinking about it all week, and I’ve been researching all the different backpack styles to get… after much debate I just placed an order for one :) Decided you were right and if it doesn’t work out we could easily sell it, especially as the choice is limited to buy here in Sweden so shouldn’t be much trouble to find a buyer :) Hopefully she’ll love it though! Will let you know how we go!

  • Thanks for sharing your experience, Kylie! Perhaps you could look for a used kitty backpack to try with your cat. It sounds like she does have an adventerous spirit and may really enjoy getting out with you! Alternately, if you did buy the backpack and it didn’t work out, I’m sure you’d be able to sell it and reciver some of your money. My feeling is that your cat seems pretty adaptable and will catch onto the fact that the backpack means getting out for fun outings quickly! I wish you two many years of happy adventures.

  • My cat, Shadow, is 13. We found her as a playful lost kitten who loved seeking attention and playing. Our older cat who was 4 at the time – hated her and refused to play, always hissing every time she walked past. As Shadow grew older, she remained affectionate with us and sometimes with visitors, but would run and hide every time we had all the family together (especially when my baby nephews and niece came along). After 12 years, the two cats still hated each other and I made the decision to move her with me (at 12!) from Australia to Sweden (One – because I couldn’t bear to leave her and Two – so the other 16yo cat can live out her retirement in peace with my Mum). Quite the climate change. I was terrified of her getting on the plane (she’d never been away from home from a night at a vet or cattery let alone a trip on 3 planes) but she made it through. For the next 10 months we lived in a room in a basement with small vinyl-covered windows she couldn’t look out of unless we put her up there and opened it. She had limited roam of the rest of the house due to an allergic person. We got her tolerating a leash in the backyard the first few months we were there (scared to let her loose in new backyard which was next to a road with no fence) and even took her to a small forest down the end of the street a few times, but was difficult to say whether she liked it or not as we weren’t consistent and only went 4 or 5 times with her – a cat that’s never seen a forest before and while we never encountered any, it did get a few dog-walkers which I was equally afraid of. Also had a cow paddock next to it, though she never saw the cows I think she smelt them! But then winter and snow came (yet another new experience) and she hated the snow as much as I tried to get her into little woolen socks and stick her outside she’d always run straight back to her window. Then the snow melted, and we allowed her in the backyard without a leash and she acted as if she’d never seen grass before. She loved it and went in and out all the time the way she used to in Australia … for two months. Now we’ve moved into a first floor apartment (not ground level) in a big city and for the first time in her life she’s completely confined indoors. Although she was also confined indoors for basically four months in the winter when she refused to go out, but now we’ve got summer sun streaming through big open windows and view of a canal and I really feel like she’s depressed and sleeping more. That and we can’t have the windows open too much because of the noise and fear of her jumping out (we’ve got doorstops on the windows but I’ve caught her trying to push the window open more). We’ve got a tiny courtyard we’ve taken her down to once on the harness with a bit of a garden but no grass which she did seem to enjoy. But I’d really love to take her out in a backpack so she could see everything and smell the fresh air and feel the cool breeze, maybe even go biking with us. She’s always been a stickybeak for windows. But I also don’t know if I can justify spending $80 on a backpack she might hate (not much option here, I’ve got to buy from overseas). I don’t know if she’s too old to train, but she’s got no health issues and her life has already changed so much in the last year, I feel like she’d enjoy it in the safety of a backpack over the leash if we could find a quiet area for her because she clearly misses the outdoors… but like I said… big town, we’re next to a railway overpass, lots of noise, no car to drive her further away, just bikes… eh. I just don’t know how she’d take to it. :/ We don’t want to stay here in city forever and hope to move out in 6-9 months, but then it’ll be winter again! But there’s so much adventure she could be doing! :P Fish and Chips are adorable and if we ever get a new kitten, I definitely want it to be an adventure cat from the start! :P

  • That’s so fantastic, Pamela! We wish Norman and his family lots of fun adventures.

  • I think my cat “nephew” Norman would be a good adventure cat. Thrilled that my sister and brother-in-law have started using a harness for taking him outside in the yard.You can bet I’ll be forwarding this post to them.

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