Updated: Apr 21, 2021
*Traffic noises, honking, chattering* OMG that sounds scary and terrifying! There are always so many cars, bicycles, people, and unknown noises.
The term urban exploration may sound daunting for some cat adventurers. In fact, it was my cat, Archer’s, biggest nemesis when we first started exploring the world together. So if you have a cat who is not comfortable with the city, it’s quite natural that their biggest fear would stem from loud and unfamiliar sounds, especially in busy areas.
Before you decide to expand your cat adventuring horizon, I would recommend that they master the basics to ensure they have a certain level of comfort outside.
If you are just starting out to train your cat, check out the my blogs below!
Now, let’s talk about some training tips for your kitty to prepare them for a fun and exciting urban adventure!
Tip #1: Prepare your cat for unfamiliar urban noises
It is inevitable for a cat to encounter cars driving by on the street, and that could definitely be a scary experience for them at first!
I remember in the beginning of our cat adventuring, Archer would pancake on the ground every time a car passed by! I could tell that he was afraid of the monstrous machine coming towards him as he did not know what to expect.
Therefore, the first thing to prepare your cat for the city is to get them comfortable with the cars on the street.
Consider bringing them to a quieter environment in the neighbourhood to start the exposure of cars, and observe their body language as they fight through the uncertainties and fear of an unfamiliar sound.
Also, bring their cat backpack as a safe space so they are able to retreat if their surrounding is too overwhelming. Finally, don’t forget to bring lots of treats to provide a positive interaction!
One training technique I have tried with Archer, is to place him inside the cat backpack, sit on a sidewalk bench with him, and let him observe and listen to the cars passing by. It definitely took some time before he was comfortable enough to slowly crawl out of his backpack for a direct view of the street.
After confirming his confidence level with the surrounding, I, then, elevated his training to a slightly busier street with some people passing by. Eventually, he got more desensitized, and we were able to frequently visit a regular street with some traffic, people, and stores.
This process will be different depending on the cat and their personalities. Hence, do not expect them to be comfortable right away, and do not set a benchmark against another cat on their progress.
Tip#2: Provide a safe space to retreat
As I mentioned before, cat backpack or carrier is the MOST important necessity for cat adventuring. It provides a safe space for your cat, at the same time, allows them to retreat and recollect themselves if they feel overwhelmed with their surroundings.
While you are out and about with your cat, allow them to stay inside the backpack if you notice that they are feeling anxious or startled by certain objects or sound on the street. This will reassure them that they are safe where they are, without trying to find a place to hide.
Often times there will be unexpected situations when you are exploring on the streets of city; such as, automatic doors of stores, person zooming by, or large store signs. Any of those sounds or sights could possibly spook them. So having the backpack with you would allow your cat to feel that they could be part of the environment without directly experiencing it.
As time passes, your kitty would eventually feel more confident with these noises, and be more willing to explore the streets.
Tip #3: Research the location prior to visiting
The most important thing to avoid any unexpected events during cat adventuring is to do a quick research before you head out.
Some areas may be busier than others during specific times of the day or occasions; therefore, find out the most optimal time to visit a place when it has the least traffic, people, or noises. This would help you to integrate your cat more easily on their urban exploration, and help you to stay proactive during your adventure.
In addition, you could look out for any pet friendly places as a location to stop by, if your cat feels more comfortable with an indoor environment. It could also be a fun place to discover in the future when the weather is not cooperating for an outdoor adventure!
Some of my favourite pet-friendly places that Archer has visited are pet stores, Home Depot, and Canadian Tire.
Tip #4: Take precautionary actions to reinstate confidence
Cats can react very differently depending on their comfort level in a busy area, so our goal is to ensure your cat is NOT traumatized by the experience. Consequently, it is important to take any precautionary actions to reinstate confidence in your cat if they feel anxious at any moment.
Think about bringing down their fear of the urban areas, and minimizing any traumatic experiences that will be imprinted in their minds, as this could hinder the progress of their training.
If you notice any of the signs below, immediately take actions to provide comfort to your cat.
Shivering or shaking
Arched back and fluffy fur on spine
Tail fluffing up
Enlarged pupil and sights of fear
Dashing away or retreating
Try to stroke their back with a soft tone of encouraging voice, shorten the leash to slowly bring them closer to you. Once you have noticed that they have calmed down a little, pick them up gently and place them inside their backpack.
Keep them inside the backpack until they are completely calm, and then give some treats to reward their bravery.
For a detailed step-by-step guide, check out my blog 5 Steps to Guide Your Adventure Cat in Stressful Situations.
Urban exploration is a FUN and EXCITING experience! It is vastly different than visiting nature hiking trails and parks. As a result, you may expect different reactions depending on your cat’s prior exposure to busy areas.
If you are struggling to explore normal streets with your cat, stay patient and spend more time to help them build up the confidence. Then, make sure you consistently provide them with the opportunity to visit similar locations to desensitize them to the city noises.
The last thing I want to share is that every milestone matters, and at the end of the day, it is all about the journey you two have shared together!