Adventure Cats Hit the Trails and Attractions of WNC
There is a new trend hitting the outdoor recreation scene, and as usual, Western North Carolina is at the forefront of this new adventure innovation. But no need to grab your mountain bike or snowboard, all you need is a fearless feline with a harness and leash. From the trails to the river, to your favorite nearby sight to see, adventure cats are taking over Asheville.
While it may seem like an obscure hobby, adventuring and exploring with a cat is becoming much more common and accepted. In fact, the local Facebook group WNC Adventure Cats boasts over 500 members. And not only is adventuring with cats a fun and active hobby for people, it is excellent enrichment for cats who otherwise may never see much outside the four walls of their home. So, you’ll be seeing more cats where only canines had gone before!
If you are interested in starting to adventure with your cat, here are a few tips to get you started:
First assess whether your cat has the right personality to be an Adventure Cat. If your cat has a timid or nervous personality, adventuring is probably not the best form of enrichment for them. Instead focus on indoor adventures such as building a box fort from your leftover holiday present boxes. However, if you have an outgoing and personable feline, adventuring may be the perfect activity with which to spend some quality time together.
Take your time to fully harness train your cat indoors before trying to move outside. A good harness training guide can be found here: adventurecats.org/backcountry-basics/train-your-cat-to-walk-on-a-leash
Make sure you have a well-fitting harness that fits snugly enough that your cat cannot escape but is comfortable for them to walk around in. There are several different types of harnesses and each cat has their own opinion about which is the most comfortable. You may need to try a few before finding the right one for your cat.
Take it slow. It is very inspiring to see other Adventure Cats hitting the river in a canoe or summiting mountains, but remember that as prey animals, cats are naturally afraid of change. Start out exploring your own backyard. Once your cat is becoming more confident, you can slowly start to increase the distance and difficulty of each adventure.
Just remember, the goal is to enjoy being outside with your cat while providing them some excitement and entertainment. If they become nervous or scared, take a step back to where they were comfortable and slow down your progression. Taking your time getting them started with positive adventure experiences will ensure that you and your cat have years of adventures together!
Dr.Annie King is the owner of the Cat Clinic of Asheville and the human slave of Emmylou AdventureCat