Dogs are often brought along as camping companions. But what about cats?
While cats may not be the stereotypical pet to bring on a camping trip, they can tag along if you take the correct steps and precautions. You can’t simply pack a cat leash and canned food and expect everything to turn out okay!
Many cats can adapt to the idea of camping if they’re acclimated correctly. However, some skittish felines are not going to have a good time, no matter what you do. Consider your cat’s personality before you hit the trail. You don’t want to deal with a stressed and fearful cat the entire trip.
Camping with cats can be a bit complicated. But it is often straightforward once you have the basics down. In this article, we help you learn everything that you need to know about taking your cat out of the house and into the woods.
The 8 Things to Know When Camping with Cat
1. Consider the Trip
Not all trips are suitable for felines (or even dogs, for that matter). Heading to a campsite for a few days is one thing — doing days of hiking is another.
Cats are easy to take along in ATs and cars. They’re less able to handle long miles of hiking.
It’s true that in the wild, cats would likely walk for miles a day, but your furry domestic friend likely doesn’t have the stamina for that. However, cats also need a suitable amount of exercise and can’t spend all day in the carrier. (Plus, you probably don’t want to spend the whole time carrying the carrier!)
Be sure that the trip you are planning is one that you can realistically take your cat on. Don’t expect your feline to adapt well to weeks out in the brush or miles of hiking trails.
2. Are Cats Allowed?
You may think that bringing your kitten along is a great idea, but the owners of the campground may think otherwise.
Many campgrounds do allow pets, including national parks. However, private campgrounds are a completely different beast. These locations will have their own policies, and some may decline any sort of pets, including cats.
Other places may allow pets but require extra payments. Some are refundable and others aren’t.
3. Stock Up on Gear
If you’re going to be spending most of the time in a camper, taking a cat along may not be a huge issue. However, any tent camping will require extra gear.
4. Ensure That Any Necessary Training Is Complete
There are a few different things that your cat needs to be trained in before they are taken camping.
Walking on a leash is a must. Your cat needs to be leashed anytime that you’re outside, and when you’re camping, you’ll mostly be outside. If your cat isn’t used to the leash, you’re going to have a bad time!
You should also crate-train your cat. You won’t always need to crate your cat while camping, but it is recommended in many situations. If you’re sleeping in a tent, a carrier for your cat is recommended. They’ll also need to ride in a crate on the way to the campsite.
Crate training can prevent unnecessary stress in a situation that is already inherently stressful for your feline.
If your cat has never spent much time outside, you should get them used to it before your camping trip. There are many unusual sights, sounds, and smells outside, and most of them can be a bit scary for your average cat. You don’t want your cat to be terrified the whole time that they’re camping.
You should also get them used to a tent, preferably the one that you’ll be using. Set it up and get them in it. You may want to use a carrier for this, as fighting a cat into a tent can be a handful. We recommend spending a few nights in your tent if possible, especially if your cat will be sleeping in a crate.
6. Always Keep Your Cat on a Leash
You should always keep your cat on a leash at the campsite. Don’t let them roam. You don’t know what sort of wildlife might be around. Plus, your cat may not be able to find their way back. The campground is new and unusual (and a little scary).
7. Never Leave Your Cat
You should never leave your cat alone while camping. Don’t tie them out and leave them, even though this may be a common practice with dogs. Cats are far more susceptible to dangers from wildlife. If they’re tied up, they can’t get away.
You can bring a length of cord for when you’re at your campsite, however. Tie it between two trees and attach your cat’s leash to it. They’ll be able to walk around a bit more.
However, don’t leave your cat there if you aren’t supervising.
8. Supervision Is Key!
Keep a close eye on your cat when you’re camping. Not only are they prone to predator attacks, but there are also dangerous plants and other potentially dangerous pets. Birds of prey can pose a severe risk to cats, especially smaller ones.
Of course, you should let your cat explore. But be sure to keep an eye on them while they do so.
Training your cat camping can be fun and rewarding, but you do need to approach it carefully.
Cats should have basic training down before they are taken on an exciting trip. A cat that can’t walk on a leash can’t be taken camping.
Your bags should be packed carefully. It is easy to remember food and water, but what about a collapsible water bowl or an appropriate harness?
Acclimation is also essential. Don’t expect your indoor cat to suddenly love camping. Felines should be taken outside and inside a tent before it’s time for the trip.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! All the safety information and packing can be overwhelming, but there is little point in taking your cat on a trip if you don’t have fun. Take care of all the logistical stuff before your trip so you can relax while you’re there.
Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock