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Ever thought about camping with your cat? It seems kind of weird but it’s actually something that a lot of people do! It’s apparently a popular thing to do in France.
If your cat is the adventure type of cat it could be a very great opportunity to get your kitty out of the house and have them do something fun with you. But even if you think your they would enjoy doing something like this there are some things that you really should know before you go on a big trip like this especially if you plan to be out camping for a really long time.
Before You Start Camping…
Does Your Cat Have The Right Personality?
This is really important. Most cats really hate traveling and doing new things. They like to stay within their ritual. You will have the easiest time with kittens when adjusting them to camping. Older cats will have a harder time adjusting to this type of thing but it is definitely possible.
It stresses them out and they wont enjoy the experience and they will make sure you don’t either. If you have a cat that is really laid back and doesn’t freak out a lot then your cat will probably do well on a trip like this and will probably enjoy it a lot.
Other cats that hide and get scared a lot won’t really do good as camping companions and I would not advise bringing them along. If you force a cat like this to camp with you they could potentially become hurt or lost so I would not try to do this.
Get Your Cat Used To Being Outside First
If you have never done anything like this with your cat before your really want them to get used to it first otherwise the camping trip will be very stressful and confusing to them. Harness training them is a must and if you are not aware, cats tend to not like harnesses unless you train them to walk in one first.
This can also take a lot of time to do especially if they are an older cat – sometimes months. Maybe never at all. “How To Leash Train A Cat: A Complete Guide” is an article you can read on how to leash train your cat. You might want to start camping in your backyard at first and sleeping inside of a tent overnight with them. That way they are used to the concept of sleeping inside of a tent.
This Goes For Travel As Well
Whether you have an RV or car you should apply this same concept as well. You really want them to adjust to driving in the RV or car. It will make the camping experience much easier on them. You want to start driving short distances then work your way up to more lengthy rides. By this time they should be OK with traveling in a vehicle.
This may not apply to you as not all people camp with RV’s but if you are driving, a lot of people with RV’s like to keep their cats inside of the bedroom or the bathroom so they are safer while on the move.
Some will just put them inside of their cat carrier. This is important because your cats could interfere with your driving and cause you to crash.
Something else you should consider getting is a pet temperature monitor. This is a really useful tool if you want to leave your cat in the RV while you are gone but you want to make sure the RV doesn’t over heat. The temperature monitor I would go with is the “Temp Stick Wireless Temperature Sensor (click for the amazon link)“.
Another thing that I recommend doing is getting an air conditioning unit in your RV if you don’t have one already so your RV stays cool while you are away doing things and you cat is alone in the RV. The one I suggest getting is the “Dometic Polar White (click here for amazon link)“. Its probably the best unit you can get at the moment.
Consider The Temperature
Don’t go camping in really extreme weather as this will make it uncomfortable for them and probably yourself as well. There type of coat should be something that you should pay attention to as well as the heat can be worse for them if they are a longer hair breed or they might get cold easier if they have shorter hair.
Medication and Vaccination
Do not go on trip like this without getting your cat vaccinated and is on flea, tick and heartworm prevention treatment. Wild animals obviously aren’t vaccinated and could infect your cat with something which would not be good for your kitty.
Mosquitoes could give your cat heart-worms and your cat could get rabies from something that has it. If you don’t take these precautions your cat could end up dealing with a lot of health problems you don’t want them to have.
What Vaccines Do Cats Need?
There are some things that I would recommend getting done. Some of them include:
This one is highly recommended. If your cat gets bit by an animal in the wild they are at risk of getting this.
This is something you should also get done as it is spread by animals body fluids, feces and even fleas.
• Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
Or the feline influenza, feline coryza, and feline pneumonia. You should get this done if your cat is around other cats a lot.
• Feline Calicivirus
This is also another one that I would suggest getting if your cat is around other cats and you don’t want them getting infected.
• Feline Leukemia
If you are around other cats at the campsite and your pet happens to be exposed to this without a vaccine it could be potentially lethal.
When Should A Cat Get A Vaccine?
You should do this around 6 to 8 months and they should get them every 3 to 4 weeks. An adult cat however only needs shots every 3 years but it really depends on how long the treatment is designed to last.
Know Your Cats Limits
If you are just hanging out in a tent or an RV then this is fine but don’t bring your cat on some huge Appalachian Trail kind of hike if you want to go beyond the campsite. They wont enjoy this at all unless you carry them of course. I seen a guy sit his cat on his backpack and just let them hang out there.
They seemed to enjoy the walk even though it was long. If you want an idea on how long you should walk them shoot for about 1 or 2 miles but some cats can handle a lot longer. Anything after that your cat will be really tired and it would be wise to put them in their carrier until they gain their energy back.
Is The Site Pet Friendly?
Wherever you are camping you want to make sure it is pet friendly. All U.S. National forests allow cats but they have to be on leashes and they tend to not allow them to be in streams or rivers. Some camp grounds will also charge you if you bring your cat along so keep this in mind when you are planning your camping trip.
Pack All The Right Gear And Supplies
Make sure to pack all the right stuff because your cat will need them and will make the trip generally easier to manage. I also have an article on this for RV travel “13 Must Have RV Cat Supplies“.
This is one of the most essential things you need to bring with you on this trip. As I said a lot of places require your cat to have one of these on. If you want the best harness you want to get the vest type as its harder for them to get away.
If you are not sure which one to buy I suggested some harnesses you can get in this article here “Best Lead And Vest Cat Harnesses You Can Buy“. Your cat getting lost in the woods is the last thing you want to happen an odds are you probably wont find them if this were to happen.
If they get lost having some identification on their collar will raise your odds of getting your cat back to you if someone happens to find them.
• ID Tags
Just in case if your cat happens to get lost you want them to have an ID tag so if someone finds them they can be returned home to you. Make sure to have your name, address and phone number on it of course.
Your cat is going to be burning a lot of energy on a trip like this so make sure bring more food than usual when camping. Also do not change their diet as this can cause diarrhea which would be bad on a trip like this. Cats also need 250-300 calories a day so keep this in mind for your trip. You should also bring some of your cats favorite treats along with you as well.
It can get really hot when hiking or camping so you want your kitty to be hydrated. Do not let them drink out of the river or other water sources as there are bacteria you don’t want your cat getting.
• First-aid Kit
Its always nice to have one of these because you never know what might happen to your pet. They could get wounded or even get ticks.
Bring a familiar toy of theirs with you on the camp site. This will make the stay at the camping site much more pleasurable for them.
If your cat has a lot of hair you really don’t have to worry about this but do your best to keep them out of the sun as much as you can. The sun can be a good thing but you don’t want them getting too much of it. If you have a hairless or other really short haired breed cat you might need to get some of this stuff.
• Cat Safe Bug Repellent
You also want to bring this type of spray because just like humans cats can be bit by mosquitoes as well. They are also at risk of getting mites, fleas and worst of all ticks so bringing this along will greatly reduce this problem.
• Litter Box/Poop Bag
When you are going to the camp site in your car or RV you really want to have one of these because you never know when they might need to go. Some cats also might feel weird going to the bathroom outside so this would be another reason for having one of these.
Foldable litter boxes work really well for this situation as you can reuse them, wash them and store them when you don’t need them anymore. You can go to my article here for some portable litter boxes that I personally like “Best Portable Cat Litter Boxes For Travel“.
If your cat is ok with going to the bathroom outside make sure to clean their waste up as cat feces contains “Toxoplasma Gondii”. It’s a parasite that is harmful to any warm blooded animal and is dangerous to pregnant women so make sure to clean up their waste!
To clean up your cats waste you can use a poop bag to do this. If you want you cat to go less often and have their waste to be more solid, feed them Science Diet. This is a good tip as you wont be cleaning up waste as often.
Is It Necessary To Have A Cat Carrier?
It really depends. If you’re are going to the camp site in a car its highly recommended to put your cat in a cat carrier. You could also just put them in a harness and use a pet seat belt so they don’t have to be in one which can work just as well.
To decide which cat carrier you should get I wrote an article on the best ones that I have ever come across “Best Cat Carriers For Long Distance Travel“.
If you are RVing you really don’t need a cat carrier in this case (though it can help) but make sure they are on a harness before you open the door as they could escape. If you go out walking or hiking however its a really good idea to have a carrier that you can wear so when your cat gets tired you can slip them in there for a while so they can gain back their energy.
Is This Something That is Even Worth Doing?
The short answer to this is yes but even though it is really nice to have your cat come along with you along your camping trip it can put a lot of restrictions on what you can and cant do. You will always have to be watching them and will have to be doing things for them.
Having an RV can make this a lot easier to deal with as they won’t have to deal with the dangers of the outdoors but If you aren’t spending time with your cat then it probably isn’t worth bringing them along in the first place.
If you can deal with this type of thing you might enjoy bringing your cat along camping and they will probably enjoy it as well.
During The Camping Trip…
Don’t Let Your Cat Get Bored
You probably wont have this problem as this is most likely the reason you are taking them along in the first place but its something to consider. There are many things you can do with your cat while camping so make sure they are enjoying the trip.
You want them to be on a picket line so they can walk around the campsite too. I would not do this unattended either because cats like to get into mischief and they could get attacked by wildlife which I will get into below.
If you are camping with an RV and you can’t get them to walk on a harness you could set up a cat enclosure that attaches to your door or window. With an enclosure like this they can exit the RV any time that they want and they wont get lost or hurt.
It also wouldn’t hurt to bring some of their favorite toys and put them in the enclosure either so they are more comfortable and have something to do while you are at the campsite.
Keep An Eye On Them
Cats can be really dumb at times. For instance, they might burn themselves if they get too close to the fire pit so make sure this doesn’t happen. If you have a cat breed such as a Bengal or any other cat that tends to be really curious this is something you really have to watch out for when you are camping with them.
There harness could also get loose or they might get tangled in it so make sure this doesn’t happen either.
There are also potential dangers of them of eating toxic plants. There are also dangers outside of their control as well. Eagles and hawks or other potentially dangerous wildlife could also be a problem while on the camp site. If you don’t want your cat dying while on the trip It’s always really important to watch what they are doing and what is around them.
Don’t Change Their Ritual
Cats are very ritualistic animals. Always feed them at the same time and change their litter box at the same time you always do. If you feed them different food then you usually do they could end up having digestive issues so treat them as you would at home.
Kayaking Or Canoeing
If you are on a camping trip you could also go kayaking or canoeing with your cat. If you do something like this make sure they are in a life jacket and you need to make sure that when you are on the boat that they don’t jump off into the water because that can be potentially dangerous for them.
It would be wise to tether your cat to the boat so they don’t go very far even if they fall outside of your boat. I would also tie the leash to their life jacket and not their collar because that can be dangerous for their necks.
if you want to know more about life jackets for cats you can read my article about that here “Best Life Jackets For Cats That I Recommend“.
What If My Cat Tears Through the Tent?
You might have the problem with your cat tearing through the nylon with their claws when you are asleep in the tent because they are bored or generally just don’t like being in the tent with you.
If you have this problem you might want to get a hard shelled cat carrier. You can just put them inside of the carrier and they wont escape the tent while you are asleep. It would also be wise to get a bigger carrier so you can fit a litter box inside of it just in case if they have to go in the middle of the night.
I also do not recommend declawing them either as this can cause them permanent pain in their paws.
Sleeping In The RV Or A Van
If your cat doesn’t feel comfortable sleeping in a tent you could always just let them sleep in an RV as it has a more home feel to it. They will probably feel more safe to them as well. Just make sure to be in there with them of course.
You could also have them sleep in the van with you if you happen to come to the campsite in one of those. Just like the RV I would not let them sleep alone in there either especially in extreme weather.
Check For Ticks
This is something that you should get into the habit of doing in my opinion. When you are done camping its always wise to check for ticks if your cat happened to get any.
This should be quite easy to do if your cat has really short hair but this might be a bit time consuming if your cat has much longer hair.
How To Prevent Ticks On Cats?
Ticks are a real drag to get off of your pet but you can take measures so its a lot less likely to happen and you won’t have to pull them off as often.
If your cat happens to be ok with water or you are willing to go through the trouble of getting them into a bath you can wash them with shampoos with medicated ingredients that will kill ticks on contact.
These really only protect the neck and head areas of your cat but they can add a layer of protection if its something you are willing to do. You should never get collars with the chemical “Amitraz”.
• Tick Dips
This is a chemical you delude with water that can be applied to your cat with a sponge to prevent ticks from getting on your cat. I don’t recommend doing this if you happen to have a younger cat or kitten.
You can buy medications that your cat can take and it will keep parasites away from your pet for up to a month. I would be very careful with giving your cat these types of medications and I would also ask your vet about doing something like this as well.
If you take all of these steps and precautions that I listed here you and your cat should have a really good time camping together!