Each year, over 40 million Americans enjoy a camping trip of some sort. But very few of these campers bring a cat along with them. But while the practice is not common, having a camping kitty is entirely possible. This article will serve as a guide to help you do just that.
A Guide to Camping With a Cat
Camping, in general, requires a lot of planning. But when camping with a cat, you will need to engage in further preparation and pack some cat camping gear. To help you with that process, we have included 13 tips to get you ready for camping with a cat.
1. Make Sure the Campsite is Pet-Friendly
The first task you will need to complete before you camp with a cat is ensuring that the campsite you visit is pet-friendly. If they are not, the other tips on our list will be irrelevant as your cat will not be welcome at the campgrounds.
Your best bet is to contact campsites in your area and inquire about their pet policies. The representative from the campsite may even have a few tips to help your cat camping experience go off without a hitch.
Finding a pet-friendly camping area is imperative. However, this can come with a potential downside that may be unavoidable. If a campsite is pet-friendly, that means there will likely be other cats and dogs present while you and your cat are there.
If your cat is not used to interacting with other pets, they may become stressed out. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do here other than helping your cat acclimate to camping and spending time with other animals.
2. Help Your Cat Adjust Slowly
In our last list item, we mentioned the importance of acclimating your cat to the camping environment. This stage is so vital that it bears repeating in greater depth.
If you have a cat that has lived indoors for its entire life, you should not suddenly force them into a camping trip. This can easily lead to your cat becoming overwhelmed and somewhat traumatized by the experience.
For an indoor cat, you should take some time to help them adjust to the outdoors. Begin by bringing them outside and walking them around your yard. This will give them a feel for the outdoors well before you embark on an epic cat camping trip.
Gradually increase your cat’s exposure to the outdoors until you are confident that they will feel comfortable spending multiple days on a camping trip. Even for cats that have spent time outdoors, you should give them ample time to adjust to the camping setting.
To help your cat get used to camping, you should also introduce them to a tent. This will give your cat some familiarity and make the transition into camping much easier.
3. Plan a Short Camping Trip
When camping with a cat, the shorter the trip is, the better. While you may be well-prepared to take on a multi-day backpacking trip, odds are your cat is not.
Begin by camping with your cat for a single night at a safe campground. Keeping your camping trip short will be safer and easier for you and your cat.
You should also not attempt to bring your cat on any long hiking trips while you’re camping. Those long treks are not only exhausting. They also expose your cat to dangers that they are not used to.
Limiting the length and intensity of your camping adventure is a smart way to ensure that your cat enjoys the experience as well. After your cat can handle a single night with no issues, you can consider some longer trips that span multiple nights.
4. Anticipate the Weather
Before you camp with your cat, you need to check the weather. You should never camp with a cat in extreme temperatures. Both excessively cold and extremely hot temperatures can be extremely dangerous for your pet.
The ideal air temperature for a cat is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 degrees Celsius). Your cat will survive in settings that are both warmer and cooler than that. However, you should not go too far outside of that range.
You should also consider the type of cat you have. For example, a cat with long fur will be better able to handle the cold. But they will suffer more during a heatwave.
To avoid any temperature-related complications, only camp when the weather is ideal. Picking a fair-weather weekend for your cat camping will help them remain safe and comfortable.
5. Avoid Large Crowds
When camping with a cat, crowds are something you will want to avoid, at least at first. The presence of many people and other pets may be worrisome to your cat, especially if they are not used to camping.
Do your best to find a campground that is either sparsely populated or has campsites that are somewhat remote from one another. This will give your cat plenty of space to explore without needing to worry about other people around.
With this tip, the temperament of your cat matters a lot. Perhaps you have an extremely extroverted cat that enjoys the company of strangers. If that is the case, then your cat will have a better chance of dealing with crowds.
But even if your cat is generally friendly, it remains a good idea to start out with a quiet campsite. The lack of people will eliminate one of the many potential stressors that exist for cats on camping trips.
6. Prepare a Space for Your Cat
When you go camping with a cat, you should do your best to create a space that is theirs. This space should be an area where your cat can feel safe and retreat if they become overwhelmed.
At times, a tent will work well for this purpose. However, some cats may not feel comfortable spending time in a tent. If that is the case for your cat, it is a good idea to allow them to use your car as a safe space.
For this reason, it is a good idea to choose a camping location that allows you to drive up to your campsite. That way, your car will always be nearby if your cat needs it.
The designated space you set aside for your cat plays two important roles. First, it is where your cat can hide if they ever become scared. Second, it is a place where your cat can go to sleep and feel secure despite its new, unpredictable environment.
7. Bring Plenty of Water and Food
The food and water needs of your cat won’t change too much when camping. That is why it is so important that you stock up on plenty of items for your cat to eat and drink during the trip.
This is one of the main limitations of camping with a cat. It is challenging enough to pack enough food and water for yourself on a camping trip. Considering your cat’s food and drink needs will only add to the weight of your gear.
However, food and water are not something you can compromise on since there may be contaminated groundwater. You must provide enough dry and wet food to keep your cat satiated and enough water to keep them hydrated. Find a way to allow your cat access to food and water whenever they need it.
Bring the food that your cat is used to eating. There will already be enough new stimuli for your cat on a camping trip. So, bringing food they are used to will help build some sense of normalcy.
8. Select a Litter Spot
Food and water are both essential needs for a cat. The same is true regarding the area where your cat goes to the bathroom. As such, your campsite should include a designated litter box spot.
You might be surprised to find that your cat is completely comfortable going to the bathroom on the ground or behind a tree. But there is no way to know ahead of time if that will be the case.
To stay prepared, you should bring a litter box and enough litter to get you through the trip. This will provide a comfortable place for your cat to use the restroom.
You should also keep the litter box in a single location during the trip. This can be inside your tent or in your car. Either way, keeping the litter box in one place will make it easy for your cat to know where to go when they need a potty break.
9. Buy a Leash
A leash with a harness is an excellent item to have if you are camping with a cat. Many of us associate leashes with dogs. But despite that notion, cats can use them as well.
One of the main dangers of camping with a cat is having them wander off while you are unaware. Once they are out of sight, your cat could get into all sorts of danger. They might come across some wild animals or get stuck in a tree.
To avoid that, you need to restrict the area that your cat has access to. The most reliable way to do that is by hooking your cat up to a leash. Try tying the leash to a tree or picnic table.
Using a leash will keep your cat in one place while you carry out your other camping objectives. A leash can also be extremely helpful if you take your cat on any short hikes or walks in unfamiliar areas.
10. Consider a Cat Backpack
We just mentioned the fact that a leash can allow you to take your cat on a walk or hike. While that is a good option, there may be a better one out there.
Even if your cat is on a leash, the hike you select may be too strenuous for them. Rocky terrain, exposure to the elements, and long distances are all a detriment when hiking with your cat. But in some cases, those factors are unavoidable.
In response, you should consider getting a cat backpack. These backpacks give your cat a space to rest while you hike. They also keep them protected from any dangers on the trail.
A cat backpack is ideal for this use because you can wear it like a normal backpack, meaning you won’t need to use your hands to support your cat. But if you can’t find one of these backpacks, a cat carrier should work well too.
11. Practice Fire Safety
Whether we are discussing camping with a cat or camping rules in general, fire safety is of the utmost concern. Negligence in this area can cause injury to you, your cat, and the surrounding environment.
Those dangers are not a reason to avoid campfires entirely, as they are one of the most enjoyable aspects of camping. What it does mean is that you will need to use extreme vigilance while tending your fire.
Fire may be new to your cat. And in response, they may become extremely curious. Monitor your cat’s behavior near a fire with a close eye. In some cases, they may feel the temptation to touch the fire out of curiosity.
The best approach is to keep your cat away from the fire entirely. This will dramatically reduce the risk of your cat getting a serious burn.
12. Keep an Eye on Your Cat
This point will seem obvious to most responsible cat owners. But we feel the need to emphasize this directive. Always keep an eye on your cat while camping.
Camping presents many dangers to you and your cat. And while you do your best to anticipate those dangers, some may remain unforeseen to you.
For this reason, you should always keep your cat in sight while you are camping. If you must leave your campsite for any reason, you should either take your cat with you or put them in their safe spot.
Keeping an eye on your cat will also make it less likely that they will get lost. With so many inherent dangers in the wild, a lost cat is the last thing you want to deal with. To prevent that unfortunate outcome, supervise your cat at all times during a camping trip.
13. Be Ready to Search if Your Cat Gets Lost
Even if you keep an eye on your cat, there is still a chance that they may get lost. If that happens to you, you need to be prepared to search for your cat.
As you might imagine, finding a cat in the wilderness can be a difficult task. Especially in the woods, there will be countless places where your pet could hide. If it is nighttime, that task becomes even more difficult.
Begin by searching some obvious areas such as holes in trees or rock crevices where your cat might try to hide. If your cat gets lost at night, using a flashlight can be a reliable way to illuminate your cat’s eyes.
Losing a cat is one of the primary dangers of camping. That is why you should always watch your cat while camping and be prepared to spring into action if your cat becomes lost.
Frequently Asked Questions
Even though we’ve covered most of the details surrounding the topic of camping with cats, you may have a few more questions. To help you find some quick answers, we have included responses to the most frequently asked questions below.
Can Cats Live in a Camper?
If you have considered whether your cat can live in a camper, the answer is yes. However, there are a few caveats to that response.
Campers can come in many different shapes and sizes. That means that some campers will be more suitable for cats than others.
There is an easy way to tell if the camper you have will suffice. If you can provide warmth, food, water, a place to sleep, and a place to go to the bathroom, your cat should have no issue surviving in your camper.
Can You Go Camping With a Cat?
It is possible to go camping with a cat. However, you will need to make several special considerations before you do.
Camping adds danger that a cat would not normally face. That is why it is so important that you follow the advice in this article any time you want to camp with your cat. Doing so will ensure that your cat remains safe and calm.
Do Cats Like Tents?
If you are wondering if cats like tents, the answer will vary depending on the cat in question. As you might expect, a cat that has had little to no exposure to the outdoors will have a hard time adjusting to sleeping in a tent.
However, if you are strategic in how you introduce your cat to a tent, it may come to enjoy that setting. As always, you should cater to the unique needs of your pet to make sure that they are happy and relaxed in their sleeping environment.