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As Cat Parents, we know our feline friends love adventure and new experiences. This is evidenced by the way cats explore their houses, poking their noses into wastebaskets and paws into fish tanks, or sit in windows, endlessly watching birds and animals flit about the yard. It’s clear they want to get out there!
Kitty backpacks were invented to safely carry cats to new adventures. Some cats can be a bit nervous being confined in carriers or backpacks, and it may take several days or weeks to help them be less fearful. But once you get them comfortable exploring in the backpack, they’ll have the time of their life outside the front door with you!
Teaching anything to a cat is typically a lengthy process that requires patience, persistence and consistency. Almost any cat can be taught to climb into a backpack and let themselves be carried around. With this training, you can get your cat comfortable in a backpack so you can bring them along on your next adventure.
Kittens are usually easier to train than adult cats, so consider starting early if you’ve got a young feline. Get them used to being around backpacks right away, and they’ll eventually begin to investigate them on their own.
Adopting an older feline or shelter cat can be one of the most satisfying things you can do. A story you may never know accompanies each cat, which could include a lack of training or traumatic experience. The process for getting these cats accustomed to backpacks may take a bit longer. If, after a long period of time, older or stray cats don’t take to the pack, be prepared to accept that not all cats may be backpack adventurers.
It’s critical that when you’re ready to start backpack training, the cat is relaxed and comfy in a place they feel is safe. Treats are just as important as encouraging words, so have plenty of both on hand as motivators. If they balk at training just then, start over another time.
Some cats are indifferent to treats. For these furries, up the value of the treats you offer. Try small pieces of cooked chicken or eggs, or put some cheese bits in the backpack. Small pieces of tuna in water can be a great lure, too.
It’s important to be sure you have the ideal backpack for your purr-buddy. Some cats do well in a soft-sided backpack, while others prefer a hard-side model with a plastic bubble enclosure. Search the web and hunt pet stores to find the pawfect one for you and your cat.
Adding a blanket or towel with the cat’s scent on it can help your kitty feel at home inside the pack. Before you put it in, leave it in areas where your cat can lie on it and make it theirs. A soft t-shirt worn by one of the Pet Parents provides a purrfect bed that’s familiar, with both their scent and yours.
The Universal Method
Step 1 Introduce the backpack
Choose a spot in the house where your cat is comfortable and relaxed to place the open backpack. Allow your cat to investigate it on their own. If they don’t seem interested, you can bring the cat to the spot by carrying them, or by spreading some treats on the floor nearby. You can also place the scented blanket, towel or t-shirt inside.
Step 2 Invite them in
Scatter a few treats inside the backpack to encourage them to poke their head inside. While they’re exploring, try to reduce loud noises that may startle them. Don’t run the dryer or dishwasher, turn your phone off or put it on silent, turn any music or tv down low, and put a sign on the door asking that visitors refrain from ringing the doorbell.
Step 3 Let them get comfy
Plan to leave the backpack out for a week or so until they’re comfortable with it, luring them inside with treats. Once they get fully inside, you can start to close the flap or door for a few seconds. Each time they get in, keep the door closed for a little longer until they can sit in there for several minutes without getting anxious. Then, practice securing them with their harness inside the pack.
Step 4 Get moving
Now, slowly and gently pick up the backpack with your kitty secured inside, and take some practice walks around the house. Start with a minute, and increase the time each trip to up to 10 minutes, while offering treats and reassuring sounds. If your cat starts scratching to get out or meowing in distress, let them out of the backpack immediately and try again another day.
Step 5 Go for an adventure!
Once your furry friend is relaxed inside the pack when it’s moving, try walking outdoors. Chances are good that they will instantly become fascinated with their environment. They may even go to sleep with the rhythm of your steps. Make the first few forays short and quiet around the yard, or through a park or a meadow with bunches of birds, increasing the time each trip. Doing this several times a week should get your feline pal comfortable enough to enjoy the sights and sounds outside with their furvorite human bestie!
By Leslie Ingraham
Published: 08/20/2021, edited: 06/06/2022