tabby and white adventure kitten on a leash exploring rocks

Cats are starting to take their place as sidekicks and friends not just while we are working or watching TV but while we are hiking, biking, or even kayaking. If you don’t believe it just check out the #adventurecat hashtag on Instagram to see what cats are up to these days. When I take Plush or Treeno out the number one comment I get is “how did you get him to do that? My cat would never (whatever we are doing.)”  What is it that makes a cat a good adventure cat?

I think a lot of it has more to do with the bond you build with your cat than just breed or personality. Your cat needs to trust you to keep her safe. You need to be a safe place for him. Kitty will have confidence that you won’t ask more than he can give when you have that kind of bond. He’ll be more comfortable trying unfamiliar things.

What Kind of Cat Makes the Best Adventure Cat?

What should you look for if you are planning on adopting a cat to go adventuring with you? There are no guarantees; not even if you choose a specific breed or a kitten that appears to have the perfect personality. Your kitty’s safety and happiness come first. You can enrich his life in other ways should your furbaby decide life on the open road is absolutely not for him.

Having said that though, there are certain personality traits that may increase the chances that your kitty will enjoy life out in the world with you.

Personality Traits of a Good Adventure Cat


Look for the boldest, most outgoing, nutty cat. The shelter cat that is at the front of the cage begging for your attention. The curtain-climber kitten.


Sure, it is easier if you start with a young kitten.  We can socialize kittens between 2 and 12 weeks old to be more open to unknown people and experiences. Socializing them to the leash and harness, going out in public, and being handled by others from a young age makes it normal to them.

Cats beyond this age can still be socialized, but it may be more difficult and require more time. But I started showing and traveling with Plush at age 4, and Treeno started his adventure cat career at 13.

An older cat can take to the adventure cat life. It just might take them more time to get there. An older cat will also need more consideration in the difficulty and frequency of the adventures he takes part in.


A food motivated feline is easier to train. Special treats make an adventure worth doing for him. A trip out naturally rewards a cat like Treeno. He loves all the attention he gets from the public, so he’s eager to try again. A toy motivated cat can learn to walk on a leash with the help of favored lure toys.


The curious cat that is the first to explore something new in their room or meet a new person without stress. Does he enjoy fresh experiences? Seem interested in the outdoors? A curious cat or kitten will take more easily to their life as an adventure cat than one that is more indifferent.


How comfortable is the cat around other animals and people? Consider the fact that you are likely to encounter dogs and other cats as you go on your adventures. The cat with the habit of hissing at every other cat that walks by him in the shelter room is likely not the best candidate for adventuring in public.


The adventure cat lifestyle might stress a territorial cat. The smells and sights of other animals will be more concerning to him than his more laid back litter mate.

silver tabby cat walking on a blue leash adventure cat graphic
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Best Breeds for Adventure Cats?

Any breed can be an adventure cat. The right personality traits count more than the breed.  But these breeds are more likely to be adaptable to the adventure cat lifestyle.

  • Abyssinian/Somali
  • Bengal
  • American Bobtail
  • Manx
  • Turkish Van
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Chantilly
  • Ragdoll
  • Bombay
  • Maine Coon
  • American Shorthair
  • Ocicat

If you are interested in water sports, consider a Turkish Van or a Maine Coon. Ocicats and Japanese Bobtails take to the agility ring.

Adopting an Adventure Cat

The ASPCA categorizes cats into 9 classes, grouped into three color groupings,  based on purr-sonality. They grade cat on their playfulness, adaptability to new people and situations, and enjoyment of cuddles and petted. They describe green cats as “savvy, unflappable and adventurous,” they classify orange kitties as “good company,” and purple felines “seek affection, are pretty quiet and tend to stay out of trouble,” according to the ASPCA.

“Green” cats, and to a lesser extent orange cats, are more likely to have the personality traits necessary for the adventure cat lifestyle. So if your rescue or shelter uses the Feline-alities classifications, ask to visit with a “party animal” or “leader of the band” and see if you find your new adventure cat buddy.

How Do You Make a Cat an Adventure Cat?

How do you train your kitty to be an adventure cat? Start slow. Allow him to get used to the experience and be patient with him with each step along the way.

Train him to use his harness

We have a detailed post on harness training here. Be willing to try several harness styles. Plush is happier walking with a regular H-harness than a walking jacket, even though I’d prefer him to wear a walking jacket.

Don’t decide after one less than perfect experience that adventuring out on a leash won’t work for your kitty. Most cats flop over or forget how their paws work the first time you put a harness on them. But if she doesn’t become more comfortable over time, don’t enforce your will on her. It should be fun for both of you.

Give her a safe space

Teach her to feel safe in her pack, carrier, and stroller. The carrier provides a safe place for your cat to escape and hide if something startles her. Even if she’s like my Plush and stays in her pack the whole time, she’s still experiencing unfamiliar sights and smells. As long as it does not terrify her, outdoor adventuring is a positive enriching experience.

Make it routine

Cats love routine, so make adventuring part of the routine of Kitty’s life. Establish routines around putting on his harness, taking him out the door, going for a ride. Take him out every week for a trip to the pet store or a walk around the park at least. Making the experience a routine part of his life is more important that having a major adventure every time.

Make it Easy to Travel with Your Cat with Our Free Guide

You will also get access to our exclusive, subscriber-only, Resource Library full of free and paid ebooks, guides and printables; as well as our “mews”-letter with current posts, cat-related news, and a monthly calendar of activities and adventures for you to share with your special feline friend.

Make it a bonding experience

Never force your cat into a situation that scares her. Start small and work up to more extensive adventures when she’s ready. Always make it positive with lots of treats and fun.

Outdoor adventures can provide an outlet for a kitty’s energy, keep cats mentally and physically sharp, reduce obesity and associated diseases, and build the bonds between cats and their people. Annie King, DVM, a Fear Free certified veterinarian, and guardian of adventure cat EmmyLou, thinks experiencing the outdoors in a controlled way can help with the boredom and stress in many cats who stay indoors at home.

Remember, you are playing out with a cat, not walking a dog. This is about giving your cat a chance to experience the world. Have fun and enjoy the experience of seeing the world through his eyes.

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8 thoughts on “How to Make an Adventure Cat: Purr-sonality, Breed, and Bonding”

  1. The picture at the top with the cat in the black harness that has a handle on the back with a pink leash. Yeah, what harness is that I’d love it for my cat.

  2. 30 years ago my oldest sister was a trendsetter and used to take her two cats on walks. She got tons of double takes and comments. Our cat was a stray, and he became an inside (only) cat. However, if we ever get another cat, I would love to have an adventure cat!

    1. It’s a pet sport dog harness. It’s actually not my favorite harness for a cat. The handle is a nice feature but it’s not escape proof enough for me for cats (but it’s a great harness for dogs.)

      Currently my favorite harnesses for cats are the Mynwood cat walking jacket and the sleepypod martingale style harness.

  3. I love seeing all the pictures of adventure cats out there enjoying the world! While I don’t think that either of our cats would be onboard with something bigger like kayaking, my girl Pippen LOVES spending time in the hammock with me, bird watching. She could curl up that way with me for hours.

  4. I am seeing more and more cats in cat carriers with windows out and about lately, not on leash because of all the dogs in our area on leashes but it amazes me that people are doing it

  5. Our cats watch their American cousins going adventuring with amazement and fascination. This is an amazing concept that we love.

    I wish one of ours would go in a harness but they just run out into the garden and hide * sigh * It’s fabulous to see cats in the most astonishing places.

  6. Rarely you see somebody outside walking their cat. But I have seen it a few times. It ought to be way better for the cat too, getting outside on adventures.

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