We decided to include a series of posts on how to gently train your cat into becoming an “Adventure Cat”. Given that we weren’t planning any extreme hiking or wilderness trips with our cats, perhaps a better description might be how to create your own backyard feline adventurer.
Needing a seasoned expert for advice, we thought who better to ask than Laura Moss (Editor-in-chief and Co-founder of AdventureCats.org). It’s one of our favorite cat blogs and it is the ‘go to’ resource for people looking for safe ways to explore the great outdoors with their feline friends.
Photo: courtesy of Adventure Cats
For our first piece Laura offered us her tips for “backyard adventures.” In the New Year she’ll be adding a section on tips for “urban” adventures — trips around the neighborhood or the block for cats in more urban environments.
Without further adieu, here’s what Laura shared with us:
Many cats may love to get outside, explore the natural world and feel the wind in their whiskers. However, while some cats may want to accompany their owners on day hikes and camping trips, most will prefer to keep their outdoor excursions a bit closer to home.
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But just because you’re keeping your trips within the confines of your yard or neighborhood doesn’t mean you can’t have a big adventure. The world just beyond your doorstep may not be exciting to you, but to your cat, it’s an unexplored wilderness.
4 Tips for backyard adventures
1. Keep your cat on a leash
You may be in the safety of your own backyard, but it’s best to keep your cat on a harness and leash — even if your yard is fenced in. If your cat spots a bird she wants to chase, or if she gets spooked and tries to dart away, you’ll be grateful you’ve got a hold on that leash.
2. Be patient
It may take numerous outings for your cat to be comfortable outside, but once she’s used to all those new sights, scents and sounds, your feline friend will be leading you all around the yard. Be patient while your kitty gets accustomed to this new experience, and let her explore at her own pace.
3. Create a cat-friendly yard
When it comes to creating an outdoor playground for your kitty, don’t worry about keeping it neat and manicured — let it grow a little wild just like your cat. Tall grass may look unkempt to you, but it’s a fun place for your cat to explore, as well as an ideal place to hunker down and watch for insects. Plant some kitty-friendly greenery such as catnip, lemongrass, mint, and wheat grass, and if you’re not sure if a flower, shrub, or other plant is nontoxic, check before you plant it. Also, never use pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals that could be harmful to your pet.
4. Provide an area to do ‘business’
Cats that spend most of their time inside may prefer the familiarity of the litter box, but some cats may have no problem at all using the bathroom in the bushes. It’s a good idea to provide a patch of sand, dirt or mulch for this purpose, and if you don’t want your cat using a certain area of your garden, place wire mesh beneath it to discourage kitty from digging.
Great advice! Thank you Laura!
**Spoiler Alert: Laura has a new book on Adventure Cats coming out in the Spring of 2017…stay tuned!
Below are a few photos of one of our cats (a tuxie named Newman) – he loves it outside and we have specific designated areas in our yard where he’s safe and contained and we can keep an eye on him at all times. We haven’t leash trained him yet (that’s the next step)…we’ll be following Laura’s expert guidance. >^..^<
Here’s Newman in the tall grassy area…no shortage of chewables!
And this was Newman’s first snow adventure…his reaction (below left) when we told him he could go out and play in the snow.
His attempt at snow flying was pretty successful! If you like tuxies, be sure to check out our in-depth post on Tuxedo Cats.