Is your cat an excessively adventurous feline, unafraid of the dangers of the outdoors?
If so, she might make a great camping companion. It’s true, some cats really do enjoy heading into the woods for a weekend of getting back in touch with nature. If you’d like to take your furball out into the wild, here are some tips to help keep her safe.
Assess Her Personality
First, you have to make sure she has the temperament needed to handle the outdoors. It turns out that felines can have one of up to nine different, distinct personality types. Not each of these personalities lends itself to the camping lifestyle, so you’re going to want to make sure she fits into the right mold. Cats that are sociable and confident, as well as used to being outside, are going to be the best match for camping.
Training is essential to ensuring that your little camper is safe. There are plenty of things out there that would eagerly take a swipe at your friend given the opportunity. An adventure cat should be properly socialized from a young age so she knows how to behave in strange environments and around other animals. She must also be able to walk on a leash, follow basic commands, and come to you when called.
It’s important that your cat has a place to rest if she becomes anxious out in the woods. Always bring along a cat carrier and bed, which she can go to and feel at peace. Your cat should never be left outside the tent or camper at night and she certainly should not be running around the woods unleashed—that’s incredibly dangerous!
It’s also important that she’s dressed appropriately for the weather. If it’s hot out you probably don’t want to take your longhaired cat out under the sun, while you wouldn’t want to take a shorthaired feline out in the middle of winter without a comfy sweater. Similarly, make sure that her leash and harness are the proper fit before heading out into the woods.
Avoid Long Hikes
Unlike dogs, cats aren't built for enduring long hikes. While a mile or two won’t do them harm—as long as they’re in good health—anything longer than that should be avoided unless you plan on carrying them most of the way. If you’re going camping with your cat choose a spot with campsites that are just a short walk from the car, or one that you can drive right up to, rather than something that’s going to wear your kitty out.
Maintain Her Diet
Just because you might break your diet on a weekend getaway doesn’t mean your cat should be allowed to do the same. In fact, allowing her to eat new food while on a trip can be pretty disastrous for her wellbeing. Stick to the same food and treats you would give her on a normal day and do your best to feed her at the same times. You’ll lessen the possibility of her getting sick and needing an emergency vet visit. Also, avoid letting her eat anything strange off the ground.
Your cat should have her own hiking pack—that you’re going to carry—just like you. In it, you can keep her treats and food, but you’ll also want to include basic medical supplies that your vet suggests she needs. If she’s on medication don’t forget to take those with you! The Humane Society provides an excellent first aid kit list if you’re unsure of what you need. Sunscreen and lights to attach to her harness in case she escapes are also important additions.
Keeping your cat stimulated around the campsite will go a long way in ensuring a peaceful night. Bring along her favorite toys from home that you can toss around inside the camper or tent to help wear her out. She’ll be calmer throughout the day as long as you keep her exercised and less likely to rustle around the tent while you’re trying to sleep at night.
The outdoors is no substitute for a cat’s litter box. Cat poop can be disruptive to the environment and it’s your responsibility to clean up after her if you’re going to take her into the woods. Bring along a small litter box where she can relieve herself and remember to properly dispose of it when she’s done. That means taking it back out with you when you leave.
Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible.