7 Crag Cat Do's and Don'ts: Bringing Your Cat Rock Climbing

July 26, 2023 5 min read

7 Crag Cat Do's and Don'ts: Bringing Your Cat Rock Climbing - Dynamite Starfish

Love to climb rocks and pet cats? We do too!

Whether you've got a seasoned adventure cat or just starting to think about bringing your cat outdoors, there's no reason why cats can't make great climbing companions. 

But there are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure your feline friend enjoys being a crag cat.

Today we'll dive into some do's and don'ts of bringing your cat rock climbing!

(Cover photo from @yeticragcat and @kiki_dmason)

Do consider your cat's personality

It's no secret that cats have unique personalities — some are naturally curious and are born to be crag cats, whereas others tend to be shy or skittish and prefer staying indoors. 

Before venturing outdoors, ask yourself why you want a crag cat in the first place. Do you want to build an intimate relationship with your feline friend or does the idea of having an adventure cat feel trendy? 

Spending time in nature should be a positive experience for both you and your cat. It's important to value your cat's personality and know when to reel it back in. Some cats aren't meant to be adventure cats...and that's totally OK!

But even if your cat is of the timid type, there's still a good chance they can make a great crag cat with the correct approach.

Don't skip out on proper adventure cat gear

Investing in the right gear is key to making sure your crag cat is safe and comfortable on your climbing trips. 

Not all cats will be enthusiastic about wearing a harness (more on that later), so do your research and take time to find one that your cat won't be able to wiggle out of. Our cat parents recommend using a locking retractable leash to control the amount of freedom your cat has depending on the situation.

There are also tons of different packs for adventure cats on the market, but climbers have the added caveat of needing to haul a bunch of gear. Before making a selection, think about everything you need to carry for a day of rock climbing. A proper 'catpack' should be a safe space for your cat and comfortable for you to carry.

Along with the basic food, water, updated tags, and medicines, our crag cat owners said that a GPS tracking device and cold weather clothing come in handy. These are completely up to you!

Do invest time in training

Just as you wouldn't hop on the Dawn Wall without proper training, taking your cat rock climbing involves preparation. 

Ideally, you can begin working with your hopeful crag cat while they are still a kitten; however, older cats can still learn with a gentle approach filled with positive reinforcement. 

The first step is getting your cat used to wearing a harness which should start in the safety of your home. Introduce the harness by letting your cat sniff and play with it. If your cat is calm and willing, gently put the harness on for a few minutes. Then remove the harness and immediately praise and reward their behavior with treats. Slowly increase the amount of time until your cat can walk around for a few hours without getting stressed or trying to wiggle out of their harness. Most cats are able to get used to a harness with some patience and love, so remember not to rush this process! 

Once your cat can tolerate wearing their harness, attach a leash for short walks around the house. Work your way up in length and move outdoors as your cat begins to accept the idea of going on adventures.

Pro Tip: Short, frequent training sessions go a long way. Be consistent!

(@yeticragcat going rock climbing with @kiki_dmason)

Don't forget about the car ride

Yay! Your cat is finally able to walk on leash and strolls near home have been a success. Now there's only one thing separating you from bringing your cat rock climbing — the dreaded car ride.

Car rides can also be a huge source of stress for cats, but this can be practiced too!

In the beginning, it's a good bet your cat will prefer a short trip close to home versus an hours-long trek to your favorite rock climbing area. Just like you did with leash and harness training, start slow and gradually work your way up.

Many of our crag cat parents also suggest having your adventure cat travel while wearing their harness and leash to avoid an accidental escape on the other end.

Do be aware of dogs and other animals

While many outdoor climbing areas have a leash policy, don't expect everyone to follow those rules once you get away from the parking lot. 

Scoping out the local crag before bringing your adventure cat is never a bad idea, but you should always plan on encountering other furry friends in heavy foot-traffic areas.  

Dogs tend to be high-energy, and a harmless attempt to play can quickly turn into an unwanted scuffle. Our advice here is to be vigilant. Keep a close eye if you tie them to a tree in case your crag cat feels trapped or tries to run away. 

In a perfect world, your crag cat will know it's time to come or jump into your arms when called by name. But since harm doesn't wait for you to stop climbing, make sure to create a safe space like a backpack where your cat feels comfortable hiding from danger.

(Dogs just want in on the fun! @qiaoyu1991)

Don't dive all in on your first trip

For your first few trips outside, pick a crag or hiking trail close to home with easy access. Narrow trails are a good place to start because they give your cat a clear direction to walk and help them get used to being on a leash. 

Even if your adventure cat is a people person, it's still a good idea to visit a low-traffic area until you have an idea of how your cat will react to being in nature.

Once again, be conscious of your cat's personality and body language. Some cats might not use the bathroom or drink water when stressed which may put a time limit on how far you can venture. As you become more in tune with their cues, you can increase the length and complexity of your trips.

Pro TipPack a few lickable or wet treats in case your cat isn't keen to drink water during your adventure.

Do go slow and have fun with your crag cat!

Remind yourself that this is your crag cat's adventure. If they want to smell stuff, be carried when the trail gets tough, or just sit...let them! Your cat will enjoy the experience so much more if it feels calm, relaxed, and unrushed.

And most importantly, have fun! 

(Photo courtesy of @supercassss)

Having a crag cat is a rewarding experience, and we hope these do's and don'ts will get you on your way to bringing your cat rock climbing.

    If you have questions or ideas you'd like to share about how to prepare your adventure cat to go outdoors, leave us a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.

    Psst…Our Climb Rocks & Pet Cats tee is a pawsome conversation starter!

    This comfy top lets the world know what you think climbing is all about. With so many styles, we know you’ll be the cat parent having the most fun at the crag.


    Alex Tighe
    Alex Tighe

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