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… the list goes on. In fact, many cats have a wide range of personality characteristics!
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 traits.
Trait #1: Sociable / Friendly
No matter what kind of outings you plan on taking your cat on, you will inevitably run into a fair share of people and plenty of dogs (some even off-leash). If your cat likes making new friends, or at least doesn’t mind encountering new people or animals just in passing, you will have a much easier time.
Trait #2: 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 #3: Confident / Not Easily Spooked or Stressed
Does your cat spook or become stressed easily? If so, he may have a difficult time getting acclimated to outdoor adventures. If he maintains a confident and calm demeanor despite loud noises, crowds of people, and sudden movements, it will be a much easier process.
When you’re outside, especially around other people and animals, there is no way to predict what will happen around you. People may shout, someone may start mowing their lawn, dogs may bark, a plane may fly overhead, you name it. If your cat can’t handle these things without getting scared and trying to bolt, you’ll both have a stressful time. An easily spooked cat out on an adventure is a recipe for disaster.
Trait #4: 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 #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.
Trait #6: Food Motivated
If your cat will do anything for a treat, he will be a lot easier to train. Whether your training your cat to wear a harness, walk on a leash, or acclimate to the outside, your cat will need some sort of reward or incentive. Food and treats are the easiest things to motivate with.
There isn’t going to be a completely defined way to tell if your cat has the right personality for adventure. You can at least use the list above as a guideline though. Your cat doesn’t have to possess ALL the personality traits mentioned either. These six 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 or if they are becoming stressed.
Curious to know if your cat is meant for a life of adventure? Take the interactive quiz to find out!
About the Author
Emily Hall, ABCCT is a certified cat trainer and cat adventure enthusiast. As a “mom” to seven cats, one dog, and two sugar gliders, she has been writing in the pet industry for 10 years, with a focus on traveling and adventuring with cats. Emily and her husband enjoy hiking, road-tripping, camping, and canoeing with their three cat adventurers. Read more about her here.