Take your cat outside - Part 1: do they want to?

Not all cats want to go for a walk! And that’s ok


Just like humans, all cats are different and enjoy different things, so yours might be a kitty who prefers to stay indoors. That being said, many cats do actually enjoy being taken outdoors with their humans and it can be greatly beneficial to their physical and mental health.


Before you decide on the adventure cat lifestyle, first consider why you want to take your cat outdoors. Is it for their benefit or yours?


“You can’t force a cat to be an adventure cat, It’s definitely not something you want to throw your skittish adult cat into. If you want a furry, purring adventure buddy, my advice would be to start when they are young and open to exploration being a part of their lives.
Adventuring with your kitty is a great way to keep them healthy, active and engaged. It’s an awesome tool for letting your kitty express and utilize her full, wild potential.”

-Erin Verplaetse (taken from adventurecats.org)


Types of adventures


Deciding what type of adventure might best suit your cat and starting small is important for their long term enjoyment. Your cat might love a small trip to the park over hiking Table Mountain. Once you’ve leash trained your cat indoors (more of this in part 2), you can start small by taking them to a quiet garden or park and work your way up to a hike. Getting them used to trips in the car is also very important at first.


If your cat isn’t keen on leash training, then a carrier might be the ideal way for them to engage with the outdoors at first while feeling safe near their human.


How do I know if my cat will enjoy it?


If your cat isn’t used to the outdoors, it may take some time to get them used to it so don’t throw them in the deep end, baby steps! There are four factors that determine whether your fur baby might enjoy a stroll:


  • Age

Generally if you start leash training from a young age, your kitty will grow up used to walks and being taken out and about. The older cats get, the more resistant they will be to change. If your cat is a little bit older you can still train them but it may require a bit more patience.


  • Breed

There are some breeds that enjoy walking on a leash or being taken outside more than others. If you dream of having the next Suki cat then a Bengal is the cat to go for. Bengal cats are still closely related to their wild ancestors and are often very dog-like in personality. Other breeds of cats that enjoy walks are:


Ragdoll, Abyssinian, Burmese, Maine coon, Siamese, Turkish van, Savannah cats


BUT, just because your cat is one of these breeds doesn’t guarantee that they’ll enjoy it either. Buying a purebred in South Africa can also be very expensive. Many rescue cats will love a walk too if trained in the right way, so if ‘adopt don’t shop’ is your motto, then you can find out from the adoption homes which kitten’s personality they think is best suited to an outdoors lifestyle.


  • Personality

When adopting, it’s important to first figure out what kind of cat will best fit your personality, lifestyle and needs. If you’re looking for an adventure buddy, you should be asking breeders/shelters for kittens that are quite outgoing, naughty or already expressing an interest in going outside.


If you already have a cat at home, you can evaluate their level of friendliness, energy levels, interest in the outdoors and feistiness. If your cat tends to have more energy than you know how to handle, watches birds outside with keen fascination or constantly requires a lot of attention from you then they might be the purrrfect outdoor buddy!


  • Lifestyle

If your kitty has already spent their life indoors, getting them used to walks might take a bit longer. Whereas cats who already have a small garden or backyard are more acclimated to outside sounds and smells.

Benefits


Taking your cat for a walk might seem like a recent trend, but it can be EXTREMELY beneficial to their overall health. Cats are incredibly sensitive intelligent beings and most indoor cats don’t get nearly enough stimulation or exercise.


If your cat has ever struggled from obesity, behavioural issues or destructive behaviour this could be a sign that they’re bored or depressed. Cats need to feel a sense of freedom and purpose just like humans do, and taking your cats for adventures can be a great way for you to form a deeper bond.


Taking them out in nature can help them form a relationship with the natural world and engage in exciting new smells, sounds and sights. The adventures might end up being mutually beneficial for both of you. See how they react and where they take you, you might find that their whole personality changes for the better or they shed some of that unhealthy weight the vet warns you about.


Over time you will find your cat to be more at peace when home and they might even start initiating a walk outside!



Join us for the next parts in the take your cat outside series:


Part 1: Do they want to?

Part 2: Getting them ready

Part 3: Baby steps

Part 4: Along the trail

Part 5: Cat friendly outings