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Article: How to Train Your Cat for Water Sports like Paddleboarding & Kayaking!

How to Train Your Cat for Water Sports like Paddleboarding & Kayaking!

If you can’t get enough of canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and everything water-related, you may be tempted to bring your kitty along for the ride. After all, the only thing that makes a day out on the water even better is being able to share it with your fur baby, right?

That may be true, but taking your kitty kayaking may not be as easy as you think—even if she’s an adventure cat. 

Here are a few things to consider as you decide whether or not your kitty’s up for a water adventure, brought to you by bonafide adventure cat pawrents:

Safety comes first

Water adventures are fun for humans, but for cats, they can be full of dangers. Your kitty could get spooked by a loud noise, accidentally fall in the water, or try to run away. That’s why all the cat pawrents we spoke to emphasized that keeping your little tiger safe is priority number one. 

Of course, there’s plenty you can do to prepare for safe water adventures (we’ll get to that in a minute), but first of all, be sure to ask yourself if you’re absolutely sure you can keep your kitty safe out there.

Never do anything that will break the bond of trust between you and your cat

This advice comes from Bev, owner of adventure cat Wilhelmina George. While you may be tempted to force your kitty to have fun, it’s important to know and respect your cat’s boundaries, and to make sure they’re comfortable at all times.

Nina, cat pawrent of Max, shared that before she took her kitty paddle boarding, she made sure he was OK with going on adventures in general. If your fur baby isn’t used to exploring outside, you may want to start by just taking them on a walk or a hike, and build up to water fun. Make sure they’re comfortable wearing a harness and lifejacket, so they won’t have one more thing to stress about when you take them to the water.

Some cats just aren’t water babies

Zafrina, proud pawrent of Kitty Mojito and Lynx, stresses that not all cats will want to join you in your water adventures. While Lynx is a water-lover, Kitty Mojito gets uncomfortable if the wind or water is too rough, so on those days, she’s happy to stay home. 

Even if you’ve thought of everything to keep your cat safe, they may not appreciate you taking them out of their warm, comfy corner to go play in some cold water. Ask yourself if your cat will enjoy joining you out on the water, or if they’d be happier at home.

Safety tips 

To keep your fur baby safe and comfy on water adventures, our cat pawrent friends suggested bringing along these items:

Here are a few other things you’ll want to do to keep your kitty safe:

  • Keep an eye on them at all times
  • Don’t take them out on water that’s rough or choppy
  • Have a plan in case they get frightened or are in danger
  • Tell your family or friends where you are in case anything happens

There are lots of risks involved in taking your kitty kayaking or paddle boarding, so be sure you’ve thought of everything before you head out.

Tips for water-training your kitty

If you’re confident that your kitty can safely join you, here are some tips to train them for water sports:

Start by introducing them to water in a safe environment

The cat pawrents we talked to emphasized the importance of slowly introducing your cat to the water before you try to take them on any boat trips. You may want to start by filling a tub, bucket, or kiddy pool with water and seeing how your cat reacts.

Get them comfortable with their carrier

Tristan, cat pawrent of Milton and Pascal, shared that the first step for him was getting Milton comfortable with his cat backpack—and that this process started as soon as Milton came home as a kitten. 

“Eventually he understood that if the backpack came out he was in for something fun, and would get the zoomies and jump up on the backpack and wait for us to take him out. Because the backpack became his safe space, it allowed us to introduce new environments to him pretty easily, whether we were taking him in the car, going on a hike, going camping, or taking him out on the kayak.”

Similarly, Nina shared that one reason her paddle boarding kitty Max enjoys the water so much is because he always has his backpack—his safe spot—and that helps him stay calm. In fact, he sometimes falls asleep on the paddle board!

Take their carrier to the water 

Once your fur baby is adjusted to their carrier, and if they seem comfortable around water, you can try bringing them outside. Set their carrier up at a safe distance from the lake, river, or pool and let them just look at the water for a while. You may want to sit with them, both to help them feel safe and so you can see how they react to noises, wind, other boats, and other people.

Try bringing them on the boat (safely!)

The next step is to bring your kitty out on the boat with you. The cat pawrents we spoke to recommended bringing the carrier again and just leaving the door open, so your kitty can come out if they want to. Again, remember that your kitty should always wear a lifejacket along with their license and/or GPS tracker. 

Reward your kitty for good behavior

Don’t forget to bring treats! This way, you can reward your kitty when she pokes her head out of the carrier and distract her when she gets nervous. After the trip, be sure to give her lots of pats and kisses for being such a good adventure cat.

A safe kitty is a happy kitty

Our final piece of advice comes from Zafrina, owner of Lynx and Kitty Mojito:

“It’s hard to know if your cat will enjoy being out on the water unless you try it. But only try it if your cat is fairly used to being outside and can handle the unexpected.”

While some cats will enjoy being out on the water with their favorite humans, you should only bring your kitty along if they can handle it, and after you’ve prepared for every possible thing that could go wrong. (Don’t forget Murphy’s Law!)

Remember, keeping your adventure cat safe should be the number one goal of every cat lover!

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