Any advice for cat backpacks for moderate hike?
September 12, 2022 7:29 AM   Subscribe

The only previously I found was posted over 10 years ago and the MeFite was looking for advice on transporting their cat to the vet.

I'm seeing cat backpacks for taking your cat on hikes, just wondering if anyone can speak to their experience with this arrangement. When I leave to take my dog on a walk, the cat is suddenly insistent on joining us. From the time we leave the yard there's a couple of blocks of street, 10 minutes on a trail, then we'll be in the bush. I'm tempted to bring the cat along, and I think a cat backpack might be worth a try? This might also be a terrible idea.

He never used to want to get involved in walks, just over the past year or two. He has walked the couple of blocks and we end up at a schoolyard and just walk the perimeter, but I don't always have my partner with me to keep an eye on him and I'm not comfortable with him on the street like that, he's approaching his 12th year.. I won't venture into the bush with him 'free walking' either.

Interested in your feedback, thanks.
posted by elkevelvet to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Our indoor cat loves her backpack. When we take it out she immediately jumps in.

There are two things I'd consider:

1, when the cat is on your back, you can't see them. We've found it helpful to go out with two people, so one can watch the cat while the other carries her. If it's possible for you to do that, at least initially, it will help you understand how the cat is feeling about the hike.

2, how long do you plan on staying out? You might want to start out with a shorter walk, just to test the waters. Our cat maxes out after about 30 minutes. At that point she's ready to be home.

Some cat backpacks expand into little tents that you can put on the ground. They have mesh sides, so the cat can smell the surrounding grass, etc. That's another point of interest for the cat.

Oh, and people you pass by love it. Everyone is excited to see a cat going around in a backpack.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:43 AM on September 12, 2022 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: thank you WtP.. I expect to get stares, that's for sure. The cat has free range, he arrived as a stray over 10 years ago and even after having the bits decommissioned he tended to be out a whole lot.. over covid and after he crossed the 10 year threshold he really wanted to stick around the house and rarely ventures off the property. However, anytime I head out with the dog he is determined to accompany us. Our walks can go well past an hour so the comment on duration is appreciated.
posted by elkevelvet at 8:02 AM on September 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

How's your cat with a harness or leash? I might not walk a leashed cat on the street bits, at least not to start, but might he like to walk along with you on the quieter parts of the hike?

My two have Kitty Holsters and tolerate them well, if a harness is a no-go for your cat. There's a D-ring on the Kitty Holster for a leash.
posted by humbug at 8:20 AM on September 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: humbug, this may be an option if two of us are accompanying the dog and cat. The reason for the backpack is for the not infrequent solo walks: I don't think I could manage the medium-large (and strong) dog on a leash while walking the cat simultaneously. I haven't thought this through entirely, the idea of a cat backpack struck me as ridiculous up until recently. Now I see a cat who is probably in the latter 5-8 years of his life, and I hate to corral him back into the house when we go on walks. I don't know what precipitated the change in the cat, he really did not have interest up until a year ago.
posted by elkevelvet at 8:50 AM on September 12, 2022

Best answer: Oof, totally understandable.

I have this Jespet for vet visits, and can report good things. It's sturdy, has a waist strap to help brace against side-to-side cat motion, and doesn't kill my shoulders. It also handles Ms. Chonky Floof (13-14 pounds) just fine.
posted by humbug at 9:43 AM on September 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ^ that is the sort of thing I had in mind, humbug

and I appreciate the details re: your experience, there are so many products out there and when you mention e.g. sturdiness, stability, comfort on the shoulders, that is exactly why I posted to AskMeFi.

many thanks!!
posted by elkevelvet at 6:50 AM on September 13, 2022

Best answer: This is the one we have and are quite happy with.. When the cat moves around, Mrs. Proust says it feels like being pregnant, except on your back.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:32 AM on September 13, 2022

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