One of the biggest skepticisms I received while exploring outside with my cat, Archer, is “Really? An adventure cat? Does he actually enjoys going outside on a leash?”
Taking cats outdoor with a leash and harness is a fairly new concept; it is understandable and inevitable that adventure cat owners could receive some comments from bystanders who were never exposed to this idea.
Since many people may not have had prior experience with cat adventuring, or they may have been influenced by societal expectations or prejudgment, there have been many misconceptions about the idea of taking cats out for adventures.
BUT, there is SO much more to cats than what society portrays them! As a result, I hope to address some of these misconceptions which do not reflect the truth about our interactions with our feline companions.
Below are 6 misconceptions people may have on adventure cats.
#1: Walking on leash is for dogs only, and cats cannot be trained to walk on a leash.
One of the biggest misconceptions about cats is that people believe only dogs should be walking with a leash, and cats cannot be trained to do so.
Since the most common pet we see outside exploring are dogs, people automatically assume that other pets cannot be trained to be on a harness and leash. Some may even ridicule at the idea of training a cat to be on a leash as it is perceived as an unordinary activity.
Of course, this is definitely incorrect because cats can also be trained to walk on a leash, and join outdoor activities with their pet owners. In fact, many cats have proven to be able to perform tricks and listen to human instructions.
In addition, outdoor activities adds enrichment to a cat's life by providing them with diversity of sound, scent, and sight; which they would not be able to experience inside their homes.
If you are looking for tips to train your cat, check out my blog on How to Harness and Leash Train a Cat.
#2: Cats do not need to go outside because they are bred to be indoor only.
Some people have expressed that cats are indoor pets only, and it is unnecessary for them to go outside.
However, it is important to reinstate the purpose of cat adventuring which is to enrich a cat’s life by providing them with more active stimulation for their senses.
Even though cats do not require to exert an extensive amount of energy, they still enjoy a variety of activities with their owners, once they are properly trained and prepared to be in an outer environment beyond their house.
Based on my observations of Archer, he LOVES to be part of a fun experience outside. Either walking within our neighbourhood, hiking on trails, or even visiting some of the shops in the city.
Whenever we visit new places, I could tell that his eyes are filled with curiosity, and he would indicate his happiness by raising his tail.
#3: Cats will behave exactly like dogs when they walk and explore outside.
One expectation I often hear from others who meet Archer outside is that they assume he would be behaving and exploring just like a dog.
Now, to address this misconception, we have to look at the history of how humans were interacting with cats and dogs as their pets.
Dogs have been domesticated over 14000-29000 years ago. In general, they have been bred to perform tactical tasks, such as sledding, herding, guarding, or hunting. They were raised to learn commands, so they could walk, behave and respond promptly to their pet owner's instructions.
On the other hand, cats were never domesticated by people. In fact, they actually domesticated themselves 9000 years ago. Historically, humans kept cats as pets to keep the rodents, such as, mice or birds, away from their homes or farms.
So, cats cannot walk at the same pace or speed as dogs because they were never bred or trained to perform such tasks.
Therefore, if you are exploring with your cat outside, do not expect them to behave exactly like a dog.
Cats will take their time to enjoy the moment and slowly take everything in; they could have a mind of their own on which direction they hope to go. Of course, if you’re struggling with walking your cat on a leash, there are many ways to guide them to walk in a certain direction.
Therefore, be patient with your cat, and work with them as they slowly discover their surroundings.
#4: Cats easily get spooked, so they won’t like to be outside.
One of the labels society have put on cats is the term “scaredy cat.” Yes, there may be some truth to the term, in the sense that cats do feel more alarmed with their surroundings and could express extreme reactions.
However, depending on the training and preparation the cat has to the outer environment, they could be exposed to new noises outside, and eventually be desensitized of the unfamiliar sound, scent, and sight.
If a cat is spooked by certain things outside, it is not an indication that they do not enjoy their surroundings. Most of the time, they may not be at the stage to be fully comfortable with their outer environment, and would require more time to adapt to the changes around them.
As a result, if you are still training your cat to explore outside, do not rush the process and provide them with positive encouragements.
Once your cat is confident with their environment outside, they will appreciate every moment of it.
#5: It is too dangerous to go outside with a cat.
One of the biggest concerns people may have with their cats is that it is too dangerous for a cat to be outside.
The truth is, it is MUCH safer for a cat to be on a supervised adventure in a harness and leash compared to an outdoor cat wandering outside on their own.
The risk of illness, injury or death for an outdoor cat is way greater than an adventure cat who is accompanied by their owner at all times. Outdoor cats can catch diseases, fight with other animals, or even be severely injured by cars or predators.
If you are concerned about the danger of being outside, there are many ways to ensure your cat is safe through proper training and veterinary precautions. The adventure cat training will help your cat to feel more comfortable with their outer surroundings, and the vaccinations and medication will prevent common diseases, like ticks, fleas, and heart worms.
If you are training your cat to adapt their surroundings, refer to my blog 5 Steps to Guide Your Adventure Cat in Stressful Situations.
#6: Cats will walk the entire time while being outside on a leash.
An unreasonable expectation of adventure cats is that the cats will walk the entire time when they are outside on a leash.
The truth is, cats do not have the same endurance as dogs, and they will not be able to keep up at the same pace and speed as their owners.
To prevent exhaustion for your cat outside, ensure you bring a cat backpack on your adventures beyond the house.
The backpack will be a safe space for the cat. At the same time, provide them with temporary resting place when they are tired from the walk.
If you are looking for essentials to get started on cat adventuring, check out my article What are the Essentials for a Cat Adventure.
While there are still many prejudgments or unjust expectations of cats, I truly believe that cats are more than what society labels them.
Instead of putting limits on the cats, try to uncover their personalities and interests, and this will help you, as a pet owner, to discover their true potential and abilities.
Cat adventuring has positively contributed to both Archer and my life. I would encourage others to look past their prejudgment of cats and start a new experience with them.
I'm sure that you will both learn and grow through the challenges, and feel the accomplishment of each milestone!