The Ultimate Guide to Camping with Your Cat
Is it possible to go camping with a cat?
The short answer is: it depends. Some cats may enjoy seeing new places and sleeping in a tent—others will hate it. But with a lot of preparation and training, camping with cats can be fun.
Then again, if your fur baby simply doesn’t want to go on a leash or get in the car, it’s probably because the idea scares her, and if she gets too stressed, she may get sick or run away. In that case, it’s much safer to leave your kitty at home when you go camping.
How to Prepare for a Cat-Friendly Camping Trip
Before camping with a cat, there are a few precautions you can take to make sure the experience is fun for both you and your fur baby.
1. Find out if your campsite is pet-friendly.
Before you plan to take your kitty anywhere, make sure he’s welcome. All U.S. national forests allow pets (usually on leashes), and some national parks do as well, but it’s a good idea to double-check before you go.
Call the campsite to ask if they allow pets and whether or not they charge a fee for bringing your pet along. It goes without saying that if they don’t allow pets, you’ll want to either leave your cat at home or find a different campsite.
2. Check the weather.
Another thing you’ll want to check ahead of time is the weather. Extreme temperatures are not a good match for kitties. Though they may be able to survive in hotter or colder temperatures, 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal climate to take your fur baby camping in.
It also depends on what type of cat you have. A kitty with lots of fur will probably be better equipped for slightly colder climates, but he’ll be much more uncomfortable during a heatwave. If your cat is hairless or has very fine, light hair, you may want to pack sunscreen.
3. Acclimate your cat.
If your kitty has lived indoors her whole life, a sudden camping trip can be a frightening experience. To get her used to sleeping outdoors, you might try walking her around your yard a few times.
Another thing that can scare kitties is being in a tent. Introduce your cat to the tent you’ll be using by setting it up in your yard or home and letting her explore.
4. Pack right.
Be sure to bring enough food and water for the duration of your camping trip. You never know if clean water will be available or not, and you want to be sure your kitty has every comfort so she’s not stressed out and uncomfortable during the trip.
On that note, because your fur baby will have so many new stimuli while out camping, it’s important to bring the food she’s used to eating. If you’re unable to bring enough water, bring a water filter or water-treatment drops so you can sanitize the water available at the campsite.
After making sure you have enough food and water, the next most important thing is safety. Be prepared to keep your kitty safe by bringing a leash, & a cat backpack carrier. If you want to be extra safe, it’s never a bad idea to outfit your kitty’s leash and/or harness with LED lights so you can spot him easily if he runs away.
It goes without saying, but be sure your kitty is vaccinated, microchipped, and wearing a tag with your contact info on it before taking him on any outdoor excursions.
While your feline can do his business in the woods, he may prefer not to. That’s why bringing an outdoor litter box is a good idea as well. If you need to save room, a collapsible litter box makes for a great camping accessory. You can also find plenty of disposable, biodegradable litter boxes if that’s more your speed.
Finally, packing your kitty’s favorite toy and/or blanket can help add some familiarity and comfort to his camping experience.
10 Tips for Camping With Your Cat
Assuming you’ve done all the prep work mentioned above, you’re now ready for a safe camping trip with your kitty. Following these 10 tips will help ensure that the trip remains safe and fun for everyone.
1. Keep your cat on a leash.
A leash—and a harness—are a must-have for camping with cats. Once you get to the campsite, keep your cat tied to a tree or picnic table whenever she’s not in her carrier or in the tent. Otherwise she could end up in a tree or run off after a bird. You can also buy pet enclosures for camping. But since cats are master escape artists, be sure the enclosure is doubly secure.
2. Keep an eye on your kitty at all times.
Even when your kitty is tied up, don’t leave him unattended for more than a few seconds. Whether it’s a bird, an insect, or a tasty-looking plant, there will likely be a lot of stimulation at your campsite, and your kitty will be itching to get his paws on all of it. So keep an eye out for dangerous plants, wildlife, and other pets, and keep one eye on your kitty 24/7.
3. Stick to your cat’s usual schedule as much as possible.
Your cat is a creature of habit, and even on vacation, she’ll be much happier sticking to the schedule she knows and loves. That means feeding her at the same time of day you usually do, cleaning the litter box regularly, and going to bed around the same time you do at home.
4. Avoid crowds.
If you can, find a campsite with plenty of space and not too many people. Having too many people around can traumatize your cat, and that’s the last thing you want to do on his first ever camping trip.
5. Give your cat a safe retreat.
Just like at home, your fur baby needs a safe haven where she can hide when the world gets too loud or too stimulating. A tent may work for this, but if your kitty isn’t used to tents, a better option might be your car. Set up her carrier in your car with a blanket and toy to make things homey.
6. Don’t move the litter box.
We already talked about the importance of bringing your cat’s litter box along. Set it up either in your tent or in the car, and keep it in the same place for the whole trip so your kitty doesn’t get confused and piddle on your sleeping bag.
7. Keep your cat away from the fire.
If you love watching the mesmerizing flames of a campfire, guess what: your kitty probably will too. Unfortunately, unlike you, your kitty may not realize that those flames are hot, and the temptation to bat them with his paws may become too strong to resist. Even if he’s smart enough not to touch the flames, he may get too close in his curiosity. So just keep an eye on your fur baby when that fire is blazing.
8. Prepare for dogs.
If you avoid busy trails and avoid leaving your cat unattended, you can probably steer clear of most other pets at the campsite. All the same, be prepared to encounter other animals. If you cross paths with a dog, it’s usually a good idea to pick your cat up and retreat a safe distance away. While some cats and dogs are friendly, others will become mortal enemies on sight.
9. Give your kitty breaks and exercise.
If it’s a long journey to the campsite, you may want to stop a few times to let your kitty stretch and use the litter box. Once you’re at the campsite, make sure your fur baby is getting enough exercise and isn’t simply tied to a tree the whole time. If you plan to take her on a hike, stop regularly to let her drink and stretch.
10. Keep it short.
We hate to say it, but your kitty doesn’t want to be cooped up in a tent with you for days and days. In fact, if it’s your fur baby’s first camping trip, you might want to limit your stay to one night. On a similar note, don’t take your feline on any long hiking or backpacking trips, as they’ll only stress him out and exhaust him. If your kitty’s first camping trip is a success, then you can work your way up to a few days.
1. Can a kitten sleep in a carrier overnight?
Yes, both kittens and full grown cats can sleep in a carrier overnight. Just make sure your cat is used to the carrier before she spends a night in it, and keep things comfortable with a familiar blanket. Also, be sure to let her out in the morning at the time she usually gets up.
2. Do Cats Enjoy Sleeping In Tents?
Many cats just need the chance to warm up to a tent. Once you get your fur baby used to it, she may actually enjoy sleeping in the tent with you. But of course, no two cats are the same, and not every kitty will enjoy sleeping in a tent, even after you’ve introduced them. The best way to find out is to set up a tent in your house or yard and see if your cat warms up to it.
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