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Home > Cats > 10 Safety Tips for Boating With Your Cat in 2023: Vet Approved Advice

10 Safety Tips for Boating With Your Cat in 2024: Vet Approved Advice

a cat on a yacht

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’ve ever seen videos of people taking their pets on boat rides, you may be wondering how they make their trips successful. How do you keep them from panicking, and how do they go to the bathroom? It seems dangerous and possibly a bad idea to take a pet out on the open waters, but it also seems like a lot of pet owners are doing it! So, what are these people doing to take care of their furry friends?

Please note that we value your cat’s safety above all and do not recommend taking cats that do not enjoy boating out on the water. Remember to pay attention to your cat’s behavior to ensure his or her safety.

Continue reading to learn 10 safety tips for boating with your cat.

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The 10 Safety Tips for Boating with Your Cat

1. Introduce Them Slowly

The main way to keep your cat calm when you plan to start taking them out on your boat is to introduce them over time to the concept. Start by bringing them in a carrier near or on the boat and maybe keeping it closed for a while. Sit by them and comfort them with calming words so they know it’s a safe environment. Try not to set sail on a day with bad weather so their first experience isn’t a scary one!

a siamese cat on the deck of a boat
Image Credit: ela_elarts, Shutterstock

2. Train Them to Listen

Another important thing to make sure your cat follows is your voice and commands. Whether you need to get them used to respond to you in your home or try clicker training, they need to understand that calling their name or making a distinctive sound means, “Come here!” It’s important to keep your cat safe by ensuring that they don’t explore dangerous areas of the boat or get too close to the edge.

If you don’t see this happening with your stubborn kitty, you may want to make sure they’re well-trained before taking them on any kind of boat ride.


3. Get a Kitty Life Vest

Getting your cat a life vest is a very important part of keeping your cat safe on a boat. They make many different sizes for dogs and cats that are suitable to keep them buoyant and comfortable. Much like a human’s vest, it’s a great way to ensure your pet’s safety if they end up going overboard. It’s a much easier way to rescue your cat, and you can use this as an extra layer of safety when you take them out on your boat.

a tabby cat sitting on a counter while wearing a life vest
Image Credit: Patrick Hatt, Shutterstock

4. Portable Potty

Many cats use a litter box to do their business, so you may be wondering how this works when you take them out on a boat. Well, there are portable litter boxes or potties for cats so they can relieve themselves normally without panicking or having an accident onboard. This will make them more comfortable, make them feel at home, and give them the opportunity to continue to follow their normal kitty potty rules so they don’t get confused.

Just be sure to get your cat used to the new portable potty system before you set sail.


5. Have a Plan to Rescue Them

Hopefully, this doesn’t happen, but you should plan for your cat accidentally going overboard. Have a plan that everyone who’s with you is aware of, keep your needed supplies handy, and try not to panic while attempting to rescue your cat. Remember that they may scratch at you in the process and they might be hard to get a secure hold on, so the best advice would be to have something on them easy to grab.

a cat on a sailing yacht
Image Credit: Nikiforov Alexander, Shutterstock

6. Provide Shade

Another great idea for bringing your cat on your boat is to provide them a space out of the sun. Although humans may love baking in the sun, your cat can get hot quickly and this can lead to a dangerous situation. Cats can become dehydrated or get heat stroke if they overheat, which can lead to a sick kitty. Make sure they have a retreat from the sun and plenty of water to avoid these kinds of situations.


7. Bring a Harness

Another great tip when bringing your cat onboard is to bring a harness. Your cat will move around quickly, especially the first few times, and they don’t take kindly to being chased—a panicked owner can result in a panicked cat! Keep them attached to a harness with a comfortable amount of give so they can still explore without getting out of your sight. Keeping an eye on your cat at all times is important.

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8. Emergency Kit

When you go out on a trip where you need all supplies and necessities onboard, it’s important to have safety tools—and this also applies when taking your cat on your boat. Have an emergency kit on hand in case your cat gets injured. Imagine you’re an hour out and your cat gets a splinter, an injury, or a tummy ache that you can’t immediately rule out as dangerous, you want to have supplies on hand to remedy the situation.


9. Test Their Swimming Ability

This next tip might seem a little tricky when it comes to a pet who isn’t a fan of water but is still an important one. You might want to test your cat’s ability to swim in the water, or at least see how they behave around water. Ways to do this gradually and safely would be filling up your bathtub or a small inflatable pool and seeing how they do. It’s important to see how well (or not well) they can paddle in water. Also, test their ability while wearing a life vest.

a domestic cat swimming in the pool
Image Credit: Marie-Claude Lemay, Shutterstock

10. Keep Your Eye on Them

This last tip goes without saying and is not by any means the least important on the list—but keep an eye on your cat! It wouldn’t be a good idea to take a nap, for example, and let your cat roam around freely—even if you have a boat with an enclosed space. When you’re on deck, have your cat close with a harness and understand their behavior enough that you know you can let them lounge by themselves.

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Conclusion

With these 10 tips, you can safely bring your cat on the next boating trip in a safe and secure environment. Give them a gradual introduction to water and your boat, monitor their behavior around your boat and around water, and have all necessary supplies onboard. In case of an emergency, it’s best to be prepared. Make a list of everything you and your cat will need to ensure a safe trip.


Featured Image Credit: Nikiforov Alexander, Shutterstock

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