A few years ago, I saw an April Fool’s joke – the picture of a kitten fully outfitted with REI backpacking gear. Cat camping has been a fantasy of mine ever afterwards, and since becoming new kitten parents, I’ve come to believe if it is possible to train a cat to do things like walk on a leash and take camping, our kittens are as likely candidates as there are since they adapt easily to change, and most importantly, they love the outdoors – or at least as much of it as they’ve been exposed to so far. Right away, they began to recognize the word ‘Outside’ and run to the door whenever asked if they’d like to go there – into our backyard, which consists of a pool, some outdoor seating, and a handful of shrubs and plants, and one planter full of catnip – for them.
So, in preparation for an upcoming Memorial Day Weekend couples cabin camping trip, I ordered these cat leashes and began trying to leash train the kittens. (The resort we stayed in was pet friendly, but animals were required to be kept on leashes anytime they were outside the cabins – leash training would allow us the opportunity to take them with us beyond just the realm of the cabin.) The first day of training with the leashes is best visually depicted: Latte immediately laid down, as if glued to the floor, and Judah just rolled around on the floor trying to figure out what was on his back – looking like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum.
The trip was a real success and overall, I think the kittens enjoyed their first exposure to camping.
On Day 1 – we loaded up the car and drove to our neighbors’ house, who were also going. But wait, the kittens can tell the rest of the story, since they were there…
(Latte watching Daryl from the car window as we waited in the car at our neighbor’s house) “This is not my favorite… Hey look, there’s my dad!. Hey, hey, heeyyy dad, I’m in here! Wanna hold me?”
(Judah looks back at Latte where she’s standing behind the driver’s seat) “Hey Latte, I think we’re inside a car! I’ve seen ’em on TV. They can run ‘stremely fast…you know, like the time you heard ‘tunder’?”
(After arriving and getting the kittens settled into the room, we left them alone for about an hour and set off for a short hike to explore the area a bit.) “Hey there’s Momma’s phone. I think she talks to it like this: ‘Hello…Jonathan…Joel, it’s mom. I love you. Do you need anything?’ Really tho, it’s Latte…and Judah. We’re in a giant box, called a ‘cabin’. It’s not my favorite… ‘Wanna hold me?’ “
“Uh oh. There is Latte’s soft princess bed that she likes to sleep in, behind me, but where is mine and Momma’s giant bed? This blue car tent box here was barely big enough for me and Latte. Momma will never fit, and (yawn) I think she will need a nap soon.”
“Dis is better. Momma will be happy with me for finding a new giant bed. (Yawn) I will wait here until she gets back, and show her this perfect spot for us to sleep tonite, right here in the middle.”
(Day#2 – The kittens seemed to have adjusted just fine. They’re eating, drinking, using their litter box, and seem to enjoy looking out the windows, and we have plans in town for most of the day…so we just checked back on them every few hours that day.) “Don’t cry Latte. You’re still the princess – even if we are locked in a giant cabin box in the woods. Hey, I know what! ‘Soon as I’m done preening, lets run and jump in the window sill and stare down all the squirrels. You love that!”
(I chilled out for a while in the cabin with the kittens while my husband travelled back into town to pick up some items from a store. While there, he bought the kittens a new toy, which they LOVED.) “Hey, there’s my dad…; he has a crinkly sound plastic bag! I love crinkle sound bags! They’re fun to play with! Hey dad, wanna play with me with the crinkly sound bag? It’ll be fun…”
Ermahgerd!!! It’s a mouse…, it’s a bird…it’s a Mousiebird!!!
(Day# 3 – time to go home; I put the leashes on the kittens once again, and since it had rained the night before and the paths were all still damp, I carried them back to our vehicle. Just before reaching the the parking area, I sat them down on some moss covered rocks, to give them a chance to explore the new outside area we were in for a few minutes before the drive home.) “Momma put the things she calls ‘leeches’ on us and said let’s go ‘Outside’. I love ‘Outside’, so I was excited, but it was a different kind of ‘Outside’, because I didn’t see the giant blue water hole, or our catnip. The new kind of Outside – it’s not my favorite…”
“Latte is right. This is a different kind of ‘Outside’, and the ‘leeches’ on our backs are weird, but I like new ‘Outside’. It’s fun. Hey, I can see our car! I hope I get to help drive this time!”