Camping With Cats: The Ultimate Guide
Are you planning on going on a camping adventure and wondering if you can bring your cat companion? I have good news for you. You can take your cat to camp. However, carrying a leash, harness, and some treats isn't enough; your kitty requires special preparation before going on a trip.
Before we continue, consider taking a look at the below content:
- Harness Training a Cat
- Get a Cat Comfortable Riding by Car
- Teaching a Cat to Come when Called
- Adventure Cat Test
- Adventure Cat Training
Camping is not only going to allow you and your cat to unwind, but it will also provide opportunities to bond and explore nature together. Not every cat is ready right now to go camping, but almost any cat will.
In this article, I'll cover what steps you need to take to make your cat comfortable when traveling with you as well as list everything you'll need to make the trip comfortable for both you and your cat!
Is It Okay To Take A Cat Camping?
Yes, taking your cat camping is not only okay but also enjoyable. It's a brilliant opportunity to spend quality time together in nature while your kitty gets some exercise.
Here's the catch, though... Unlike dogs, taking a cat on a camping trip can be tricky. You can not just grab your cat, attach it to a leash, grab extra cans of cat food, and head toward the woods.
Taking your cat on a trip requires some training and planning, from litter box management in the woods to habituating the cat to be comfortable in different environments. Also, there are a few things to consider to make sure your furry buddy is safe.
Do I Need To Prep My Cat To Go Camping?
The day you decide that you would like to start taking your cat on adventures with you should start habituating your cat to the lifestyle.
Younger kittens take new situations with curiosity and it's going to be easier to get them used to the leash or being outdoors.
If you share your life with an adult cat, consider taking this short and easy adventure cat test to check whether or not your cat is ready to go outdoors or if there's some desensitization that needs to happen.
Before going camping your cat should:
- be comfortable around people
- be comfortable when riding by car
- be comfortable walking on a leash
- be comfortable in new environments, other homes or spaces
If you have enough room, install the tend you want to use anywhere in your home. Spend time with your cat in there so that they make it their own.
Can You Leave A Cat In A Tent?
No, you cannot leave your cat in a tent. By no means you should leave your cat alone in the tent, for several reasons:
- Predators could hear or smell your cat and rip the tent open to get to your cat, which probably would be trapped and helpless to prevent the attack. A fox, a bear, or even a dog could be very interested in getting to your cat.
- Temperature in tents is very hard to regulate. Your cat could easily get a heat stroke or be too cold, putting them not only in an uncomfortable situation but also in danger.
- Your cat can be alone at home. Probably, if it's about being alone, your cat will be more comfortable if they don't leave home in the first place. When taking our cats with us it should be from our willingness to enrich their lives, and staying alone it's not it.
Said this, it is not recommended to leave your cat alone at the campsite, whether on the zipline or in the tent. If you intend to travel and believe your cat cannot come and accompany you, it is preferable to leave the cat at your home rather than at the campsite.
If you plan on going on hikes that your cat can't go to, stay at a Bungalow or an RV with climate control are good options.
What Temperatures Are Cat Comfortable With?
Humans and cats both maintain body temperatures that are near 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus if you need to wear a jacket or even a sweater, your kitty will most likely be cold without it.
The ideal temperature for your cat will hover between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18°C - 25°C) and despite your cat could take a little more than that, they won't be comfortable.
CAUTION NOTE: Extreme temperatures can be dangerous for your cat. Despite being descendants of wild cats that roamed the desert, cats can overheat.
The average temperature range for cats is between 99.5 and 102.5 Fahrenheit. Temperatures of 80°F or above can put your pet in the range of suffering heat stroke. Your cat's temperature should never reach 105, as that level of heat stroke could prove fatal.
Different Way To Camp With A Cat
When I started writing about camping with cats I had in mind camping in a tent, but as I was writing the article I realized that I was thinking more about overnighting with a cat somewhere outdoors.
Then I thought I had to list some of our favorite ways to overnight or camp with my cat Mia:
- Lodge or cabin getaway
- RV Roadtripping
- Tent Camping
- Campervan Roadtripping
- Hammock Overnight
Your and your cat's skills, interests, tolerance, and understanding of the camping lifestyle will hugely impact whatever plans you make or decide to do.
My recommendation is to start with the most comfortable options and get wilder as you grow used to and experienced in the lifestyle.
Lodge or Cabin Getaway with a Cat
If you are thirsty for adventure and you've never been on an overnight trip with your cat, it's a good idea to do it in a lodge or a cabin where your cat can be comfortable and safe and where there's a thermostat taking care of everyone's comfort.
It's a great option to expose your cat to leash walking in a safe environment and test how well they transition from indoor walking to outdoor adventuring.
Camp With A Cat On A Rv Or Campervan
RVing is much simpler to accomplish and easily arrangeable compared to camping in a tent. Your cat can identify elements found in an RV as they are comparable to those in a home, like countertops, couches, and beds.
Some cats might feel at ease right away when you take them along in your RV. However, most cats require some time to get used to it.
Camp With A Cat On A Tent
Once you reach the camping area, the first thing to do is to set up your tent. Completely zip the zippers to the lid of its entrance to stop your cat from unnecessarily opening the tent.
After setting up the camp, go for a walk, and if there are other people, you let them know that you are with a cat. But why tell others? It is because some campers bring their dogs with them, so they will be careful and leash their dogs if you tell them about your cat.
Furthermore, a short walk around the campsite with your cat on a cat carrier or a leash can also help it become used to its surroundings and give it an opportunity to orient itself.
10 Tips to Camp with a Bengal Cat
This past September I went camping with my bengal cat Mia and I realized that there's a lot of prepping, while you can continue reading to learn more of the details, I put together a fun and short video with my TOP 10 Tips for camping with your cat.
How To Go Camping With Your Cats?
Camping with your cat as a companion is fun and good for them; your cat will learn multiple environments rather than being isolated. Most of the domestic cat's life is confined to an area that is not well for its long-term well-being.
Taking your feline friend on outdoor trips will help you bond with your cats on multiple levels. Make sure your cat is comfortable from the beginning. Your cat has to be used to the outdoors to go camping. Cats get scared and uncomfortable when they transit from one place to other.
Litter-Box Management When Camping With a Cat
There are wide varieties of litter boxes and trays that you can take while taking your cat on a trip. Mostly, people use cardboard boxes as they are functional and easy to recycle.
The location of the litter box is also essential. Check that the cat is using it or not placed somewhere so obscure that it is of no use, defeating the purpose. Anyhow once a day, you should scoop it.
Instead of using conventional litter, wood pellets work well. The advantage of wood pellets is they are incredibly cheap. They are good at controlling the smell.
Training a cat to be comfortable outside
Make sure that you train your cat outside before you go camping. Your furry friend should be habitual of going outdoor camping. Or else it would be an unpleasant experience for you and your cat.
Also, do a test run in your backyard or open space near your house to check whether your cat is compatible with the camping experience.
Keeping a Cat Safe when Camping
Safety must be your utmost priority when going on a trip. Make sure you leash and harness train your cat. A cat gets scared when on a leash or harness, especially outside.
Moreover, make sure your cat has comfort items while on a trip. A travel basket, a kitten bed, and lots of toys will help your kitten be more comfortable during camping.
Pet-Friendly campsites in the US
If you and your cat love outdoor camping, there are wide varieties of pet-friendly campsites in the US. These sites will give you the ultimate camping experience.
- Lake George RV park (Lake George, NY)
- Rovers RV Park (Waldport, OR)
- Riverside Campground
- 4 Paws Kingdom Campground (Rutherford, North Carolina)
Cat Camping Accessories
Every adventure comes with a big list of gear that's needed. Going to climb mount Everest, you'll need air tanks, and food for days, and warm clothes...
Camping with a cat is no different. There are a few things you will need if you want to make your trip successful (there's also a bunch of stuff you can get if you want to be extra comfortable, but that's a topic for another day).
Below list is a list of the minimum gear you will need to camp with your cat:
There's no camping without a tent and finding one that will suit you to camp with your cat should not be quick. There are only 3 things I'd look into:
- Camping tent that is fully sealable with a zipper. Some tents have a slight space between the floor and the tent and even if you think your cat does not fit, they will if they want to.
- Small area outside the zipped area that can fit your cat's litterbox (and probably it's also a good idea to leave your shoes there as well.
- waterproof. While we can take some cold and inclement weather, cats are a lot worse at managing their body temperature. If the rain gets inside your tent and soaks your cat, they are going to suffer from it and even get sick. Even if you've checked the weather forecast and it looks like it's not going to rain, weather forecasts are not always right (oftentimes they aren't) and you don't want your cat facing the consequences
Cat Harness and Long Leash
Both for tethering and walking, you need a cat harness you can trust. It is not recommended to tether a cat unsupervised, more on it later in this list.
Not every harness will serve every purpose or fit every cat. There's always a harness that will work best for your cat and the activity you are planning to do.
We created our cat harness because we wanted it to be as escape-proof as possible.
A long leash will give your cat the freedom to explore without you having to go behind them at all times. A leash that's tangle free will make your life easier. I also like thick ropes with little to no add-ons so in case the cats get inside a bush, you can untie the leash knot and allow the rope to run through the bush without getting tangled.
Tethering your cat to a pole or a tree while you are supervising them might free your hands for a bit, and if their harness is escape-proof, it will allow you to do two things at the same time: Supervising your cat + Something else. If you see the leash going tense or your cat backing up, you can get closer and address the problem, avoiding escape.
DON'T TETHER YOUR CAT UNSUPERVISED: Cats are escape artists and tethering unsupervised can get your cat escape. No cat harness is 100% escape-proof or escape-free
Cat Carrier or Cat Backpack
Traveling with a cat does not always require a carrier or a cat backpack but the truth is that traveling using one of these, will allow your cat to have a place to retreat to if they get overwhelmed or anxious.
You can find the products we use and love here.
A Safe Space
If you travel with a carrier or a cat backpack, that will do, but if you don't consider bringing a small cat cave or cat tent where your cat can retreat to.
Blankets that have your cat's smell impregnated will also help your cat feel more at ease while far from home.
Food and Water Bowls
Remember to bring your food and water bowls as well!
I made this mistake in the past... I took all the food and all the little amenities that I anticipated Mia could need but I forgot the bowls to put the food and water in...
Cats have sensitive stomachs and you should not change your cat's food when you are traveling. It is not recommended that you can abruptly change your cat's food. Sudden changes in your cat's diet can cause gastrointestinal upset and may result in diarrhea, vomiting, and even a reduced appetite for your cat, which you want to avoid when camping.
Ideally, you should plan on taking at least a week to transition your cat from one food to another, so in case you need to put your cat on kibble before going camping, plan the change and do it well in advance.
While some cats will be happy marking their territory using pee and feces, some might not like to do it in the wild. Also, even if your cat is often comfortable, there might be a dog or something that makes your cat anxious and keeps them from feeling comfortable using natural dirt outside.
Bringing your portable litterbox and cat litter is going to give your cat the freedom to choose where they feel most comfortable attending the nature calls.
Take your best cat treats camping. Cats outdoors have lots of competitive stimuli and using treats that your cat likes will help you in case you need to convince them to come to you or follow your directions.
If your cat is not motivated by treats, you need to read this article to understand why your cat doesn't like treats.
Any additional thing you can buy will be nice to have, but it's probably not needed. It might be worth taking two of each of the main items you'll need just in case something happens: extra food and extra fresh water are always good ideas, also an extra leash, and a second harness could save your trip.
We hope this guide was thorough enough to help you be more comfortable next time you want to take your cat camping.
Stay Wild, Stay Safe, and we'll See You Outdoors!
Albert & Mia