Apart from a high-quality diet, a happy cat also needs a level of exploration and stimulation that engages his mind and hunter instincts. Think about it, dog owners take them out at least twice a day. They get to explore the outside world, see sights beyond the four walls of a tiny apartment, meet other dogs, and engage in play. Felines live a comparably lonely and banal existence.
Conventional wisdom says that cats prefer to lounge or sleep most of the day, and stay at home. Not true! We’ve seen Planet Earth. We’ve seen those gorgeous snow leopards and pumas prancing about in the wild. Most domestic felines also love to go outside if given the chance. If you normalize adventuring and outdoor time as they grow up, they'll love exploring their ‘hood and meeting other cool cats. So, it’s time to jazz things up a bit for your sad apartment kitty!
6 Ways to take your cat on an adventure (in order of ascending difficulty
Leash train your kitty by taking for short walks
Start by gathering some tasty treats and a harness that fits kitty (i.e he can’t make like Houdini and wriggle his way out of it). Let your feline get comfortable around the harness so that they don't associate it with fear. Once they get used to the idea of a harness, put it on your kitty and give him or her lots of praise and treats. Don't go outside right away or introduce a leash yet, just let him or her get used to wearing it around the house. Try small increments of time at first; for instance 5 to 10 minutes. Your kitty WILL fall on his or her side, crawl along the floor like you’re testing some sort of new muscle-relaxant, and generally put up a big fuss.
Keep in mind that it may take about a week of doing this for about 10 mins every day for your kitty to truly show if he or she is never going to take to it or not. Once your pet takes to the harness, you can introduce them to a leash and take them slowly for short walks in a very QUIET area. Look out for dogs before letting your timid feline roam. For more information detailed instruction, see this cat walk by NYT:
Take your kitty with you to visit friends
Going for dinner to your bestie’s house? Try taking your cat with you. Ask permission first! (Uh, from your bestie, not your furry friend). Let him play and explore a new environment. Chances are he will love it!
Set up kitty play dates
You can try taking your kitty to meet other cats for a much-needed play date. If they don’t get along, they don’t get along. Just like you don’t want to spend hours on end with your most boring friend, kitties don't want to spend time with cats they don't think they are compatible with. Just like us humans, we shouldn't expect our pets to like everyone they meet! Don't get discouraged. Take your time and try a different kitty friend next time.
Go out for coffee & bring your crated cat
Going outside for a coffee? Try taking your feline in a crate. Most cafes don’t allow dogs, but have no policy against cats in a crate. How nice would it be to sip coffee with your kitty sitting beside you <3
Image Courtesy of Vanessa Song
Traveling, camping, hiking & kayaking
This is self explanatory, but it can definitely be difficult getting your cat into some of these activities. Proceed with caution and see adventurecats.com for more info. See awe-inspiring adventures of Canadian travel cat @sukiicat below
Next Level Adventures
Only for the seasoned travellers, veteran adventure kitties, and not-so-faint hearted...
Before you do any of this, keep safety and common-sense in mind. Spay/Neuter your cat to avoid him running off with an exotic lady-cat while you’re out exploring some Haitian waterfall, keep an indoor kitty on-leash at all times when out in the open, don’t take her on a bigger adventure than she has indicated she’s up for (i.e don’t take kitty kayaking if she’s definitively told you she loathes the outdoors), respect house rules of wherever you are, and keep kitty safe and warm at all times. Happy adventuring!!