Despite what some people may think, cats can have a wide range of personalities. There are the playful and rambunctious ones, the timid and shy ones, the affectionate and snuggly ones, the curious and inquisitive ones…I could go on and on.
If you are considering harness and leash training your cat, you first need to assess your cat’s personality and decide if he would be well-suited for adventure. It isn’t for everyone. Just like with people, some cats are better suited than others for adventures in the great outdoors*. That’s not to say that a cat can’t learn to love traveling and adventuring, but it will come more
naturally to a cat with certain personality traits.
*This article pertains only to harnessed and leashed adventures with cats. I do not support letting cats roam outdoors freely.
Trait #1: Confident / Not Easily Spooked or Stressed
A cool and calm personality is a must for any adventure cat. If your cat maintains a confident and calm demeanor despite loud noises, lots of people, and sudden movement going on, he will have an easier time getting acclimated to the outdoor, adventure lifestyle.
When you’re outside, especially around other people and animals, there is no way to predict what will happen around you. People may shout, dogs may bark, a plane may fly overhead, you name it. If your cat can’t deal with these things without getting scared and trying to bolt, it will be a stressful experience for both of you. An easily spooked cat out on an adventure is a recipe for disaster.
Trait #2: Sociable
No matter what kind of outings you plan on taking your cat on, you will inevitably run into other people and animals (mostly dogs). If your cat likes making new friends, or at least doesn’t mind encountering new people and/or animals, you will have a much easier time training your cat for adventures.
Trait #3: Inquisitive / Engaged
Is your cat into everything? Is he curious and interested in new things? Is he frequently engaged with you and his surroundings? Is he curious about the outdoors? If so, your kitty will probably enjoy the excitement of going out on a harness and leash! There are so many new sights, smells, and sounds, so if your cat has a curious and inquisitive personality, he will enjoy experiencing everything the outdoors has to offer. You’ll be able to provide a whole new world for him to explore!
Trait #4: Easily Handled
When you’re out on an adventure with you cat, you can expect that you will need to pick him up at some point—either because you need to avoid a dangerous situation, because he is tired and needs a rest, because you are wanting or needing to travel at a quicker pace or in a different direction than he wants to go, or because he becomes restless or uncooperative for some reason. Because of these facts, cats that don’t mind being handled, picked up, or even carried are a lot easier to deal with when you’re out and about.
Trait #5: High-Energy
Do you have a wild and rambunctious cat who never seems to slow down? Cats with a high-energy level need more engagement and enrichment in their lives to keep them from becoming bored or stressed. Providing them with a safe way to explore the great outdoors is an excellent way to give them what they crave while also giving them an outlet to release all that pent-up energy.
There isn’t going to be a completely defined way to tell if your cat has the right personality for adventure, but you can at least use the traits mentioned above as a guideline. I’m not saying your cat must possess ALL of the personality traits mentioned either. These five traits are just what I would consider to be the most common ones. Again, it really boils down to you assessing your cat’s personality. I can’t stress enough that you should not force your cat into something if they aren’t interested.
For example, my husband and I have seven cats. Out of those seven, only three of them are leash trained and travel and adventure with us on a regular basis. One of our little adventurers has all five of the personality traits mentioned above. She is a complete natural. Another has 4 out of the 5, and the other only 3. I’ve determined that our other four cats would not enjoy outdoor adventures for one reason another. It would just stress them out too much.
If you’re interested in learning more about whether or not your cat is meant for the adventure lifestyle, we have an interactive quiz on KittyCatGO you can take to find out.
Emily Hall is a pet blogger who writes about all things related to adventure and travel with cats. She also raises awareness for and educates about cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological disorder one of her adventure cats, Sophie, lives with. You can read her articles on cat adventure training, gear, safety, and more on her site KittyCatGO. You can also read about her and her cat’s adventures on Kitty Cat Chronicles.