How to Train Your Cat: Leash Training, Car Rides, Hiking, Camping and More!


Traveling with my cat, Charles, has been so joyful! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Charles on our Grand Canyon Trip Where we Hiked With An Elk

Cats can be trained just like dogs, people just choose not to train them for some reason.

To prove it, he’s a video of my kitty cat going pee outside! He digs a little toilet, plops on top of it and then covers it up at the end! Such a good boy.

House Cat Toilet Trained Outside

Cats can be a little more difficult to adjust to new environments and traveling but with some gradual steps you can hopefully get your kitty comfortable living on the go!

It took Charles quite a while to get comfortable in the car and going hiking but after some time he’s a pro now! Here are my recommendations:

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Gradually Adjusting to the Car

As mentioned before, cats aren’t great with change. You need to slowly get them accustomed to the new lifestyle you want them to live.

Follow Charles on Instagram @charlesadventurekitty

Sit in the Car with them Without Driving

This might seem odd, but getting your cat used to being in the car is an important step. Bring some treats and toys out to the car and go play or snuggle with your little chonk in there!

Start Crate Training Them in the House

Check out our trip to New Mexico

Start by getting a crate and making a comfortable environment inside of it. Maybe add a bed/ pillow, some treats and possibly some cat nip! I have a crate with an opening on the top so that I can pet and comfort him when he’s stressed. (the picture above is old, I linked a better and more current crate).

Don’t close it at first, let the cat learn to love it on his or her own. After a few days if the cat seems comfortable, close the door. You can start moving the cat to different places in the house while inside the crate, put it in the yard, and in the car!

Start Going On Short Drives

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Make sure you have a crate that opens some on the top so you can pet them if they get stressed (smaller hole so they can’t get out)! Charles calms down almost instantly when I’m scratching his cute little face through the opening.

Leaving home can be stressful for some little chonks, go on a short drive to the grocery store or around the block. If you don’t have a crate, I would recommend driving somewhere with low traffic, sometimes the kitties go willlld!

Charles used to meow like crazy every time we drove but now he is super relaxed! He has his special spot on the floor of the passenger seat and he usually sleeps the entire time! The hum of the car makes kitties sleepy once they are comfortable.

He also loves going through the drive thru and watching humans through the window.

Kitty goes thru drive thru and loves it!

Bring a Travel Litter Box

I use a plastic container with a lid! Works great. I usually set it on the floor somewhere in the car where it wont slide around, usually on the passenger floor or on the floor of the back seats!

Follow Charles Lickens on Instagram! @charlesadventurekitty

Reward Your Kitty Friend With Lots of Treats

Just like dogs (and humans lol) cats love and learn from positive reinforcement! Giving them treats in new, stressful situations can help them in the long run. If they know they are going to be rewarded, they are more like to get treats.

I get Charles all natural salmon cat treats from Amazon! He loves them, I have to hide them.

When mom gives you your favorite treats!

When mom gives you the good stuff…. Cat Nip!

If you are trying to teach your cat a new skill, like hiking or riding in the car (or car camping with you), only give treats during those times. Don’t do it during normal mundane activities! Do it for every small thing, even if you are just having the cat wear the harness around the House.

You can also give them lots of pets and head scratches! My boy is weird and likes his belly rubbed unlike most cats lol.

Follow us on Instagram to see more of our adventures! @charlesadventurekitty and @maggmountains

Training With Leash and Harness

Just like getting your cat used to the car, you also need to slowly adjust your cat to wearing  harness and being on leash!

You need to find a harness that actually fits them. Get on the scale without your cat, then get on the scale with your cat and that’ll help determine your cats harness size when ordering online. I have a nifty little harness for Charles and it works great!

Cat on a leash

Wear the harness in the house

Cats aren’t but on wearing clothes or harnesses so you have to slowly adjust them. I’ve found Charles can get out of a regular collar easier so I have to use a hardness or a thick strap (sounds weird but it chokes him less).

Slowly let the kitty go outside with the harness on!

Start Leash Training At Home

Again, cats aren’t great with change! Start using the leash in the house. The first few times I had a leash on Charles he would hop around weirdly and acted like he forgot how to walk! He’s a champ now and loves it. He will run to me when I try to put it on.

Go on Walks Around the Yard Or Neighborhood

I wouldn’t recommend going around your neighborhood if you live in a bust area with a lot of people walking or cars. If you live in a suburb or out in the country you will be fine! If you live in a busy area, try taking him to a park or the woods to walk around without others around!

Going on a Hike/ Any Adventure

Now that you have your kitty accustomed to the car, crate, leash and harness, its time to take your fur child on a test drive! This part can be tricky and you need to be patient! It’s a whole new experience for cats. Some might jump right into it and love, others might be terrified at first.

Read Your Cats Behavior

I have found that Charles behavior about hiking changed regularly. He loves to be outside always, but not always on a leash. When he’s like this, I put him in my backpack! He loves looking out of the pack while I’m hiking.

When he is on a leash he usually leads the way and goes pretty fast! It’s super fun to watch him run around on the trails and in the snow.

If your can isn’t feeling it, you might have to bring him back to the car to wait in there while you do the entire hike (if it’s cool outside, please don’t leave your cat in your car on a hot day!… just go home if you don’t have an option).

WHEN IN DOUBT. Get a cat backpack!! Allows them to see out while being more relaxed.

Charles and I at the Grand Canyon
Hiking in the Idaho mountains up to a beautiful hot spring! Charles loves burring his poop in the snow!

Bring Food and Water

Cats get really thirsty. I have a collapsible bowl that I bring so that I can fill it with food or water when needed. I usually just put a small amount of food in a Ziploc just in case he gets hungry!  He usually wants it when we get back to the car.

Charles got tired so I let him ride in my backpack!

Extra Pro Cat-Parent Tips When Traveling

  1. Take your cat to friend and family places for a sleepover with you so that they can get used to staying somewhere else!
  2. Travel with a litter box with a lid to prevent spilling. I use a clear bin with a lid, I got it on amazon for cheap! Words great for bringing to new places.
  3. Use cat nip! It only works on cats 9 months and older but it’s a great way to help your cat relax and to be more playful! I like to put a little in my cats crate or places I want him to spend more time in.

Feel free to comment or email me for any help or questions!

Click here to read my car camping article!

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