You’ve been thinking about going camping for a while now. You start planning your trip in your head, thinking about exploring the wilderness, sleeping under the stars, tents, bonfire, and s’mores, those delicious s’mores. And then, a little ball of fur interrupts your planning, starts purring and snuggling. It comes to your mind that your feline friend wasn’t included in your camping plans.
You don’t want to leave your kitty, but at the same time, you don’t know what you need to do. How to go camping with your cat? There are some things you will have to prepare before you start the trip, and there are others you will need to take care of when you arrive at the destination.
This article will give you the most essential info that you need to help you plan an unforgettable trip with your little ball of fur.
Before You Go
First things first…What do you know about the place where you want to go?
Prepare, prepare, prepare…
Preparation is crucial for you to enjoy the trip you are taking with your cat, as well as for your kitty’s experience. Ensure you know the exact location where you want to camp. If you plan on moving and camping at different locations, you’ll need to do research on all spots to make sure you and your cat have a safe and amusing adventure.
Where? When? What?
Where do you want to go? Choosing a location that is suitable for your kitty and enjoyable for you may take some time. You need to consider the length of the camping trip as well because you will need to take a sufficient amount of food for you and the cat. Moreover, if you are planning to travel to another country you will need to prepare certain paperwork and get a passport for the kitty.
When are you planning to go? Allow yourself to have enough time to prepare for the trip. It sounds very simple to just get into your car and drive to the nearest campsite. But, without proper preparation you may end up not having enough food, you may face bad weather conditions, or you may forget to pack some essential equipment.
What type of trip is it? Are you traveling by car? Where are you going to sleep? A tent with your car near it would completely doable. Camping in a trailer is another great option for you and your cat. However, not many cats enjoy long car rides and backpacking adventures that last for months.
If you are traveling by car, maybe the safest choice would be to keep your cat in a carrier for as long as it can while you are driving. Whatever your choice of transportation, the most important thing to consider is your and your cat’s safety. Moreover, frequent breaks would make the trip more bearable for both.
Is the destination appropriate for your cat?
Some locations may not be pet-friendly. So, do your research and plan ahead. Maybe a phone call before you start the trip would be a good idea. There are places that allow pets on their trails and camping locations, but there are some that don’t allow them. Some places may allow cats to run freely, some may require a leash.
A pet-friendly location where your cat can run and explore is of utmost importance for the entire camping experience.
Check the weather forecast
Weather conditions will greatly impact the adventure. Extremely high or low temperatures would not be pleasant either for you or your cat. If your kitty doesn’t have any hair, or if it has thin hair that is light-colored, you may want to pack sunscreen for the little one.
When you know more about the adventure destination, you’ll have a clearer idea of what you may need to have the best time possible.
Going camping with your cat will require taking more than the usual, basic outdoor equipment. If you need a hiking backpack, guess what? Your kitty will need one too. Ensure you have enough snacks, treats, and some medical supplies as well. Before you start your journey, check with your cat’s vet about anything you may need. If the little ball of love is taking some medication, you’ll need to bring those too.
Furthermore, in case the little one gets away, it would be easier to spot it if you add lights to the leash and/or the harness. Also, ensure you have a recent photo of your little ball of love in the event it gets lost.
It may be helpful to make a list of everything you’ll need to bring before you start packing.
Prepare your kitty for the adventure ahead
Once you have decided on the location and the date for the trip, you will need to spend some time preparing your cat as well. There are certain training and activities you need to do with your cat (if you haven’t already) that will make the whole journey more enjoyable.
Firstly, you will need to find out if your feline friend is the type of cat that will like travel and adventure. You definitely won’t enjoy the camping trip, if your cat doesn’t.
So, before taking the ball of fur for long rides, hiking, and sleeping under the stars, make sure it has the temperament and personality to get around in the great outdoors.
Training your feline friend
If your cat isn’t used to the outdoors, it may not enjoy camping as much as you would like it to enjoy.
Spend time training your cat walking with a leash. You can start first by walking it around your home, and then move outside in the yard or around the building. Slowly increase the distance of walking and the time you spend outside.
Start going on short hikes, and get the little one used to walking with a leash, and in nature.
In addition, your feline friend may not be a fan of spending a lot of time in a car. There aren’t many cats that enjoy taking long rides. But, you can help your kitty to get used to being in a car by spending some time inside it, letting the little one roam around. Furthermore, you can take your ball of love for a ride around the neighborhood.
Carrier is something that you will definitely need for the trip. Certainly, your feline friend has spent some time in a carrier when going to the vet. However, if the kitty doesn’t like being in the carrier, you may need to conduct some training with it as well.
A couple of weeks before the big adventure, you could leave the carrier around your home, making it very comfortable for your cat. You could put its favorite toy inside, place a blanket and the cat will start checking it out and spending more time in it. In this way, the little one won’t associate the carrier with a negative experience.
Depending on how much time you want your cat to spend in the carrier, if you want to spoil your kitty you could buy a bigger carrier with bowls for food and water, and a small litter box. Whatever you decide, ensure that the carrier is soft, cozy, and adequate for longer trips. The cat should have enough space to get up, stretch and turn around.
If you are planning to let the kitty roam around the tent, it may be beneficial for both of you to set up the tent in your yard or your living room and let the little ball of fu get familiar with it.
Few more things to consider…
Your cat should be vaccinated and treated for fleas/ticks even if there is no camping trip. So, if you haven’t been regular with its necessary vaccination and other treatments, make sure you do this when you prepare your kitty for an unforgettable journey. If you are traveling to an EU member country, you will need to get your cat vaccinated against rabies.
Furthermore, your cat must be microchipped (if it hasn’t been already), especially if you are traveling to Europe.
Collars, tags, tracker, or radio transmitter attached to the leash or the collar, are some of the items that can help with your cat’s safety.
Avoid feeding your furry friend before starting the trip. It may get nauseated and vomit in the car.
You are certain that your kitty is ready for the trip, and now it’s time to get ready. There are few essentials to think about when packing. Making a list of all items you need to pack is something that can help you to make sure you don’t forget anything necessary.
Kitty wants to pack too…
When you start sorting the items and getting them ready for packing, let the kitty be around. This may help your feline friend to get excited about the trip. Pack together and enjoy while doing it.
Food, water, snacks, and treats
If you can adjust to a new eating schedule, it doesn’t mean that your cat should as well. Maintain its meal times and quantity. Use the same food that you give your kitty to eat every day. Keeping the same routine will keep your cat healthy, and it will help you avoid any unnecessary vet visits.
Be vigilant and don’t allow the little one to eat anything weird that is on the ground.
In addition, bring enough fresh water for the both of you. Wet food is no substitute for freshwater. Streams and rivers may seem like a good source of water but they can contain many parasites or bacteria. These can cause infections and make the little ball of fur sick. You wouldn’t drink from that water, why should your cat? If you want, you could bring a water filter in case there is no potable water.
Snacks and treats are a must, especially if your kitty behaves well during a hike or the ride to the destination. Reward your ball of love for every good thing it does on the trip.
Even if it has no problem with using the woods to do its business, bring at least a disposable litter box for yourcat. You could put it in your tent, or some people even have a separate cat tent. If the car ride is long, the litter box could be useful for the cat then as well.
Nevertheless, if your kitty chooses to use the outdoors, clean up after it. Its feces can contain a parasite that can cause health issues in warm-blooded species.
Bring home with you
Besides the essential items, bring your cat’s favorite blanket, toy, or pillow. This will make it feel more comfortable in the tent. The toys will keep your feline friend entertained during the day, and it will be more peaceful at night, giving you time to have a proper rest.
If you know the weather may get cooler, especially at night, bring a sweater for the little one.
At the Campsite
Keep the ball of love close to you
When you go on hikes keep the little on a leash or put it in a carrier. If you let your cat roam around, it may wander off, get into trouble with some wildlife, or eat something dangerous.
At the campsite, if you decide to let your kitty walk around freely, keep a close eye on it. Never leave your cat alone and/or tied to something. If you want to spend time without your cat, let it stay at home with someone.
Cats are curious creatures and yours will want to explore, especially with all those new smells, scents, and sounds. Let it be curious, but supervise the ball of fur at all times.
Fire, fire, fire…
We know camping won’t be the same without at least a small campfire. This may attract your cat’s attention, so watch it closely. It is unlikely that it will run into the fire, but if it has its leash, then the end of the leash may catch fire without your kitty being aware of it.
Earlier we mentioned the importance of maintaining your home routine. The same goes for bedtime, especially if it is used to sleeping at night.
If your kitty sleeps with you in the tent or RV, then it would be good to get your cat as physically active as possible during the day. Let it explore throughout the day so that it can sleep at night. Some people don’t want their cats sleeping in the same place as they do, because they can get active during the night and jump on them. In relation, they provide a separate mini tent for the kitties or a carrier.
Furthermore, cats enjoy playing with zippers, so if you are sleeping in a tent ensure that the zippers are tucked safely and hidden from your feline friend.
Personal and safe space
Open the door of the tent, the RV, or your car. Your cat will have a safe space to run to if it gets scared. A place with a familiar smell will make the kitty feel more relaxed and it will allow it to enjoy the outdoors freely.
Some cats prefer having their own, personal space, whether it is a corner with a blanket in your tent or a separate mini tent. Some people get even outdoor kennels or travel pens.
Don’t forget to have fun
Camping with your cat can be an extraordinary experience. Watching your little ball of love explore and interact with the great outdoors can be quite amazing. You may notice things, you otherwise wouldn’t notice.
But, you also are limited in regards to the activities you can do. You will have to plan according to your cat’s needs.
As long as you prepare well, and your cat is ready for the great adventure, we are certain both of you will have an unforgettable time.