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?
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.
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.
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.
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!