When you want to take a camping trip but you’re worried about your cat, some consider bringing them along. It’s not quite as simple as that, though. Bringing cats camping requires some special preparation to keep your kitty safe and happy. To help make your trip smoother, we’ve detailed some invaluable tips. Check them out below and start prepping for your next outing.
The 8 Tips & Tricks for Camping With Cats
1. Figure Out if Your Cat Is a Camper or Not
Sadly, not all cats are suitable camping companions for one reason or another. Some cats don’t do well on leashes, while others are too skittish outside their safe home and carefully structured routine. More adventurous cats do very well camping, but you know your furry friend better than us.
Another big one is stress. Cats who stress out easily are poor candidates for a camping trip. If your cat freaks out about little things at home, reconsider taking them into the wilderness. The great outdoors isn’t always great for every housecat.
2. Check Out Pet-Friendly Campsites
Many campsites won’t allow pets, so you’ll have to do some research before packing. Because pet-friendly campgrounds are few and far between, you should expect other pets to be present. That means dogs and perhaps a few other cats will be around, although cat camping is definitely more unusual than Fido tagging along.
Ask if cats are welcome at the site and ask if they have any tips. For example, ask if there are any particularly aggressive dogs at the site; the workers may be able to point you toward a site far away from them to prevent any issues.
3. Pack Everything You Could Possibly Need
You won’t be able to pack light when towing a cat along with you. Your pet needs all the same stuff they use at home, and bringing familiar items will make them more comfortable with the new experience too. A small litter box is advisable as well because many cats have a problem going potty outdoors.
Take a look at our recommended checklist of items to bring along on your cat camping trip. You can adapt this to your cat’s unique needs and the situation at hand.
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4. Prepare Your Feline Friend for Camping
It goes without saying that your cat needs to be well-trained and well-behaved before you can even think about bringing them outside, much less camping.
Before camping, take your cat outside on a leash for short stints of training. Leash training cats is an adventure all on its own and should definitely be mastered before you move on to camping or hiking.
If possible, take your cat to the campsite well ahead of time for very short periods of time—think 10 minutes or less. This will gradually expose your cat to the area where you’ll be spending a long period of time, reducing their chances of stressing out when the day finally comes.
5. Create a Safe Space
Just like at home, your cat will need their own safe space to retreat to when the world gets to be too much. A trusted cat carrier or crate would be the optimal choice, but for RVs, you could reserve a room for your cat or whatever the most practical space would be for cat-proofing. This is a place your cat can chill out and go to if they get too crowded or stressed out in general, so bear that in mind when choosing a location and setting it up.
This place should have all your cat’s belongings, like their litter box and food/water bowls. It’s a good idea to bring their favorite toy or blanket, too, just to make things cozier. If you have the space, a favored cat tower would be a fantastic addition.
6. Start With a Short Test Trip
Once you’re prepared with all your camping/cat gear and your cat is accustomed to the idea of camping, it’s time to do a test run. Overnight is the perfect amount of time to have your cat figure out, “Hey, we’re here for a while, and it’s fine.” More chipper cats will even enjoy the change of scenery, while sociable kitties might get to make friends with other camp-going pets.
If you notice any of the following signs in your cat while camping, it might be time to cut the trip short. These are signs of extreme stress, so pay careful attention to them.
7. Maintain Routine
To make the camping trip successful for you and your cat, you should adhere to a routine as close to your home life as possible. This means keeping the same mealtimes, play times, and so on. If possible, get your cat used to their specific area beforehand so they know things are okay.
8. Know Your Limits (And Your Cat’s)
No, your cat probably won’t be doing long treks across mountainous landscapes, but they can withstand a few days of camping with proper prep work. Even if you’re a seasoned woodsman, your cat isn’t. Domesticated cats aren’t really used to the wilderness, even if some people assume they’ll do fine because “they’re really wild animals at heart.”
Assume you may have to end the trip at any time, depending on how your cat reacts to the situation. You never know when something could trigger a fear response in your furry friend, so stay on the lookout for those stress signs detailed above.
Cats can be great camping companions if you take the time and care to make the situation as comfortable as possible for them. Packing their familiar items and not forcing the situation will go a long way. However, you never know how they will react, so you’ll always have to play it by ear.
Featured Image Credit: Creative Cat Studio, Shutterstock