The Best Gear For Hiking & Traveling With Cats

December 6, 2020

traveling with cats

We’ve been traveling with our two cats for nearly three years and have learned some pretty important lessons along the way. Recently we visited South Dakota, their 20th state. One of the biggest questions I receive about traveling/hiking with cats is gear + supplies. Whether you need to travel cross country with your cat or are aiming to train your new kitten as a hiking companion, here’s everything you’ll need to get them ready for the open road.


1. Cat Backpack - Giantext Astronaut Backpack

traveling with catstraveling with cats

We bought our first cat backpack when the cats were six months old and just starting to explore outside. The backpack garners some strange looks on the trails but is useful for several reasons, even if you don’t plan to hike with your cat.

  • It’s a safe space for your cat. If you are in an unfamiliar environment, your cat will use the backpack as a shield to feel more secure.
  • If you need to transfer your cat from the car to, let’s say, a hotel room, it’s the easiest and most convenient option.
  • Hiking trails + cats + unleashed dogs do not mix. When hiking trails get too crowded or have too many dogs, we put the cat in the backpack to prevent unwanted encounters. The hard shell protects them more than a typical cloth backpack.
  • They will also get tired faster than you. When Maverick gets tired on long hikes, he walks slower than a three-year-old child picking rocks. We bring the backpack on all hikes to give him breaks along the way.

The first cat backpack we ever used was the Giantext Astronaut Cat Backpack. Three years later, it’s still holding firm. It even protected Maverick when he flung himself down a hill in it #parentingfail.

Giantext Astronaut Cat Backpack 

However, we are upgrading to the expandable backpack this month. I’m interested in seeing if the shell is as durable as our current backpack, but we like the design to expand the backpack when it’s off to give the cat more room to spread out. I’m hoping this will also eliminate the risk of any future encounters with hills and round backpacks.

Halinfer Expandable Cat Backpack



2. Large Carrier - AmazonBasics Soft + Collapsible Pet Carrier 

One of the biggest questions we receive about traveling with cats is the logistics of bathroom + long road trips. Both of our cats occasionally use the bathroom outdoors, but we still travel with litter in the car on longer excursions. We bought this large animal carrier (buy the 30 inch), which is big enough to fit both cats + a litter box if needed. The cats also love to sleep on top of the carrier, both in the car and at home. It’s lightweight and easy to vacuum out at the end of long road trips. When car camping, we usually leave the cats in the car overnight with the carrier holding the litter, food, and water to minimize the mess in the rest of the car.


traveling with cats traveling with cats


3. Treats - Feline Greenies 

On most hikes, we bring along treats instead of cat food. Both cats prefer to eat small amounts when hiking, and treats are a great way to stuff them with needed calories and reward them. They also know the sound of a treat bag. If we are camping with the cats and need them to come, we crinkle the treat bag (or crack a can of food) and they come running.



4. Tracking Collar - Loc8ter Pet Tracker 

Taking your cat out of its comfort zone always poses a risk. A tracking collar is one of the best investments to help your peace of mind when traveling with your cat. If something does happen where he/she gets lost, these trackers can help narrow down the location where they are.


traveling with cats


5. Long Leashes - Fida Retractable Leash 

Alright, here’s the truth. “Cat Leashes” on Amazon are an absolute joke. They usually come with a harness and a three-foot-long leash that gives your cat no space to roam on its own. Get a cat harness, and then invest in a dog leash with a more extended range. Cats don’t like feeling restricted, and keeping them on a tight leash doesn’t do much but piss them off.

The longer leashes allow them to explore independently at a safe distance while still being attached to you. They are also more durable and tend to last longer than cat leashes.


6. Collapsible food + Water Dishes

Overall, these are just really convenient. Most collapsible food + water dishes come with a mini carabiner, making it easy to clip on to backpacks when going on hikes. They are made of silicone, which also makes it easy to clean at the end of trips.


traveling with cats traveling with cats


7. Litter - Fresh Step Multi-Cat or Extreme 

Here’s an important lesson – do not skimp on litter when traveling with cats. Cheap litter = disgusting car rides. We like Fresh Step Multi-Cat Extra Strength litter. It’s powerful enough to keep the car as fresh as it can be when you have two cats in it.


8. Collar + Tags 

Similar to the GPS collar tracker, giving your cat a collar + tags with contact information is simply a way to ease nerves just in case something happens while traveling with your cat. We also recommend getting them microchipped.


9. Handheld Vacuum - Black + Decker Dustbuster

Traveling with pets always gets a bit messy. We always bring along a hand vacuum and a small broom/dustpan to clean up any messes. A Hand Vacuum makes it easy to clean up any spilled food, litter, and other crumbs throughout the trip. You’ll thank us for this one halfway through your first road trip.


traveling with cats traveling with cats


10. Pet Hair Remover - ChomChom Cat Hair Remover

Most people think of dogs when it comes to shedding, but cats create hairballs and messes, too. Especially during the spring, hair fills the car almost instantly. Instead of buying lint rollers that create a lot of waste, we invested in the ChomChom Cat Hair Remover. The simple device doesn’t require batteries or any other added accessory, it simply rolls and picks up pet hair on seats and flooring better than most other hair-removing products.


Outdoor travel blog

At any given moment, Shalee is either lost, hunting for ice cream, or obsessively planning her next adventure.

Born and raised in rural Michigan, she began exploring the shores of Great Lakes as a teen, often sleeping in her car to save money. Eventually, her urge to explore pushed beyond her Midwest borders. Today, Shalee shares her tips and stories to thousands of readers interested in adventure and outdoor tourism. Her pack now includes two spunky hiking cats and her partner, Josh. Learn more about her here.

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1 Comment

  1. Kellen on December 7, 2020 at 5:01 PM

    HIking with cats is truly insane, in a good way. Nice work SHALEE! #shaleewanders

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