How to Prepare to Travel and Hike with Your Cat from a Canadian Adventure Cat Mom
One of our early catstomers was Nikki Roo & Soysauce (RIP ❤), and now Nikki's new sibling Mau, all wonderful Canadian adventure cats. They use "The Fat Cat" cat backpack to do all sorts of travels, from hiking to camping to hotel visits.
We reached out to their human Marley for tips for aspiring and current adventure cats. Below they share what has worked for them and their kitties, lessons learned, and what they do to make adventuring as safe and fun as possible for everyone involved.
Be sure to follow them on Instagram: @nikki_forest_cat
1. Getting your cat used to car rides is the most important step, and is really a foundation for all other traveling.
If you only ever take your cat in a vehicle to the vet and back, they will associate vehicle rides with the vet so it's a good idea to take them places they will enjoy via vehicle rides, even if that is just to a relative's house for the day where they are showered with treats.
2. Whatever works for your cat to be comfortable in a car is the best thing to use.
For Nikki, that's being in a medium-sized carrier in the backseat, with room to stand, stretch and lay down on long trips. Some people use pet seat belts that clip onto a cat's harness, and some cats prefer the feeling of safety provided by smaller, soft carriers like our cat backpacks!
3. There are pet-friendly hotels in every city, but sometimes they are hard to find.
It is especially important to book well in advance when traveling with a cat since most hotels only have a handful of pet-friendly rooms and will be booked up, day of. Pet-friendly also doesn't always mean cat-friendly. Always call to confirm their pet policy, even when booking through a 3rd party booking site, and make sure to note your need for a pet friendly room in advance, and be prepared to pay a pet fee of $25-100.
4. Disposable litter boxes are our best friend while traveling with cats.
We usually find them - surprisingly - at grocery stores or big box stores for $2, rather than pet stores. They have a paper liner that is ripped off to expose the litter and are intended for overnight, or a day or two's worth of use. We even use them in our tent when camping with Nikki!
We sell "The Porta Pawty" Portable Litter Box, a reusable travel litter box option, so your kitty can go wherever they are & keep waste at a minimum!
5. We bring treats and collapsible food and water dishes for both hotel stays and tent camping.
Dehydrated food is great for hiking trips, as long as you know in advance that your cat likes it, and "sample" food bags with single portions. For hotels, we also bring a toy or two (wands are great for expending some of Nikki's pent up energy after a long car trip) and a cardboard scratcher. A backup harness and leash isn't a bad idea either, just in case, along with gauze and polysporin (also just in case- Nikki's foot pads tore when he slipped walking across a log once, and we learned our lesson).
6. A water/hydration system that works for your cat is a must.
Getting cats to drink enough water is notoriously difficult, but even more so while traveling. Add in a long, exhausting hike (or car ride) and dehydration can be dangerous. Nikki WILL NOT drink from his bowl outside, or in a tent, so I use an empty oral medicine syringe to 'inject' water in to his mouth throughout the day, to make sure he is getting enough water to power his walks. It's a good idea to talk to your vet or find out how many mL of water your cat (depending on size) should be drinking a day, then monitor how much you are giving them by making sure your oral syringe has measurements noted on it. I give him a little more than his daily intake calls for when it's hot, or he is especially active while traveling.
7. Speaking of heat, a cooling system is just as important.
Panting in cats isn't something to be immediately alarmed about - but it does signify that they are HOT and tired (and probably need a drink too), without addressing it, panting can lead to overheating and be dangerous. We use a cooling vest and cooling bandana. Simply soak these in water, put them on your cat, and the evaporation of the water over time helps cool your cat down. But we never hike with Nikki if it's too hot out, and we try to stay out of direct sunlight. We also have a tiny shade "tent" just for him, that we bring if we know it's going to be sunny and hot. In a pinch, we used to just dab water on his head and neck to cool him down. Regardless, if your cat is panting, it is time for a break, shade and water at the very least. But it is best to not let them get so hot as to pant to begin with. With Nikki, this is difficult as he doesn't just walk - but trots everywhere he goes, and has long fur taboot.
8. Have an emergency plan.
Know the numbers and info of vets in the area you are travelling to, have a printed picture of your cat and contact info in case the worst happens and they go missing. There are electronic tracking tags that can be put on your cat's collar - although they can be pricey, it's worth the peace of mind. Carry bear spray or dog spray, have a cat backpack and extra person with you if you are hiking or walking somewhere there are predators - or potentially off leash dogs. Most importantly- make sure you and your cat are having fun! If your cat isn't having a good time, it's time to go home or at least back to the hotel or tent for the day. Each cat is unique and will go at their own pace, be patient and learn to recognize their needs and wants while travelling, so that they start to look forward to trips - like Nikki does!
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