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Walking and hiking with cats growing trend in Kamloops

Phoebe is a cat who goes walking and hiking in Kamloops with her human, Kendra Garrett.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Kendra Garrett
September 26, 2021 - 8:30 AM

A Kamloops resident who loves to take her cat for walks on a leash has been noticing a growing interest in the activity lately.

Kendra Garrett taught her cat Phoebe how to be comfortable wearing a harness and leash since she was a kitten and the pair were living in an apartment complex, even mastering stairs and riding in an elevator.

“Starting cats off very young is the best way to get them comfortable with a harness and leash,” Garrett said. “You’re supposed to let them wear the harness at home for a few hours a day, then eventually attach the leash to it for a little bit of time every day. That gets them used to that, so when you’re outside, they’re more focused on everything around them rather than the harness.”

Garrett has been expanding Phoebe’s horizons by taking her for walks and on hikes, carrying her in a portable hard shell pet carrier.

“I like to wear the pack on my chest rather than my back, so she can see where we’re going,” Garrett said. “When I’m in a quiet area with no foot traffic, I’ll let her out on a harness and leash. She is free to explore and sniff everything. If I see anyone approaching, or dogs, I put her back in the pack.”

Kamloops resident Kendra Garrett's friend carrying cat Phoebe in a hard shell carrier on the Pederson Creek trails.
Kamloops resident Kendra Garrett's friend carrying cat Phoebe in a hard shell carrier on the Pederson Creek trails.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Kendra Garrett

Garrett said she has noticed a lot more people buying the packs and taking their cats out in them.

Shauna Gesy is the small animal and bird manager at Petland in Kamloops.

“More people are coming in to get their cats properly fitted with harnesses,” Gesy said. “People seem to be spending more time with their pets in general, and cat owners are wanting to take their cats outdoors with them. Cats can spook easily, so owners should make sure the harness is fitted correctly, something we can help with in store. We recommend trying harnesses on inside at first, gradually increasing time worn and associating it with treats.”

Gesy suggested owners protect their cat’s feet from sharp objects when out on the trails and to be aware of their cat’s body temperature as the weather changes.

Garrett warns there are hazards to be aware of when taking your cat in a carrier or on a leash.

“I think a lot of people don’t take the time to ensure that their cat actually wants to be outside for one, and to properly ease them into it without overwhelming them,” she said. “If a cat is an indoor cat it is possible it may not want to go outside. Forcing a cat outside can be traumatizing and cause behavioural issues down the line.”

Garrett said that a lot of plants are toxic to cats and suggested to regularly check cats for ticks after walks.

“Phoebe is now nine years old and she still loves to go outside and explore on a leash,” she said.

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