Can You Take a Cat Camping? 9 Important Tips

"Can you take a cat camping"? intro image of woman and man sitting near fire with a cat.

The Complete Guide to Camping With a Cat

Have you ever dared to image camping with your cat?

If you’re like me, you’ve let the idea enter your mind, then dismissed it just as quickly. After all, dogs are one thing, but cats? Is it even possible?

The answer is actually yes, it’s possible! Choosing to take your cat camping can be a wonderful way for the two of you to bond, and for you to undertake a camping experience like no other.

Trust me, if nothing else, it will be memorable.

But before you go frolicking into the forest with your feline, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. Camping with your kitty is not a decision to make lightly, but after this guide, you should have all the basics covered to ensure a fun trip for you and your adventure cat.

With that, let’s get right into it!

9 Key Tips for a Safe Camping Trip with Your Cat

Safety should be, and probably is, at the forefront of your mind when considering camping with your cat.

There’s a lot to think about, but we’ve outlined a some of the key considerations below. You likely already know some of this, but hopefully a few tips can help prepare you for camping with cats.

1. Determine if Your Cat is a Camping Cat

Not all cats are interested in camping, especially if it involves a car ride.

Also, certain trails, campsites, and national parks aren’t pet friendly, and even for those that are, your cat might not enjoy camping near other animals and pets.

If your cat is short-furred, older, or a hairless breed, you should also avoid camping in extreme temperatures, especially the extreme cold. Particularly for these kinds of cats, your best bet is to take things slow.

In addition, if your kitty is an indoor cat of any kind, it’s best to start with smaller steps like leashed walks in your yard.

If these test runs go well, or if you have an outdoor cat, that’s a good sign that they’ll be able to handle a camping trip.

2. Prepare Your Kitty Ahead of Time

A well-prepared kitty is one that doesn’t feel like everything in their environment is new.

This means acclimating your cat to as many of the camping supplies as possible when you’re still at home, and doing some practice runs with your tent in your backyard.

See how your cat does on a leash, and see how she or he reacts to new things in their outdoor environment. If your cat gets frightened easily, you’ll likely want to avoid a camping trip.

In addition, pick out an escape-proof cat collar, ideally with LED lights that can help you locate your cat during the night if she or he gets out.

We also cover later in this guide how to pick the perfect-sized cat collar.

Finally, consider adding a GPS tracker to your cat’s collar that you can track with your cell phone or other device. If your cat gets lost, you’ll be glad you did so.

3. Pack Food, Water, a Litter Box, and Other Essentials

Before embarking on an adventure with your cat, make sure you’ve got all the necessities for both of you.

For your cat, this will include dry or wet food (with at least one extra can), a litter box, your kitty’s favorite toys, and a cat’s harness.

Keeping your cat hydrated is also important, and never give your cat pond or lake water, as this can contain giardia or even certain deadly diseases for cats.

For a sleeping space, you can either bring a cat bed or just leave space for your your cat at the foot of your sleeping bag.

You’ll also want to bring a cat carrier for transporting your feline friend, and at least one backup to your cat’s collar. You could also consider a cat backpack, which can help you do more on the trip with your kitty.

4. Start with Short Trips

As mentioned in tip #1, starting with your backyard is generally the best way to test your cat before going right to camping trips.

You can even set up all the bells and whistles of an official trip with your tent and gear, and maybe even try an overnight “mock camping trip” right in your backyard. This would be the most thorough way to see if your kitty is an adventure cat, or…not so much. 😉

5. Never Leave Your Feline Friend Unattended

This is quite possibly the most important tip on our list, so I’m going to repeat it.

Never leave your cat unattended.

If you’re bringing your cat with you camping, you need to be with her or him at all times.

This hopefully goes without saying, but all sorts of things could happen if you were away. Your kitty might panic and get loose, or run into a dangerous situation with a wolf or other wildlife, or simply get bored and start exploring.

Of course, I don’t say this to scare you!

Your cat will be fine, so long as you’re there to keep an eye on them. Camping together is a great way for both you and your cat to bond, so enjoy the time together! You can still do activities near the campground as your cat plays or sleeps, but try to avoid leaving your cat’s sight.

If you do want to move around, great! Just bring your cat with, and attach your kitty’s collar to some immovable object like a tree or picnic table. This can be a great way for your cat to explore a new area while you work.

Also, if you want to get in at least one of those long hiking trips during your stay, consider using a kitty backpack. However, in general, camping with cats means you’ll be sticking around the campsite a lot more.

6. Avoid Crowded Campsites & Other Areas

If you’re going to camp with your cat, it’s a smart idea to pick a camping destination that isn’t around a lot of other unknown campers.

The sheer noise of a boisterous campground, not to mention other pets, could unnecessarily stress your cat out.

A little planning in this regard can help avoid a lot, so make sure to pick a camping destination where you and your cat can have some space and solitude. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes.

7. Provide a Safe Space for Your Cat to Escape To

When cats get scared, they seek out a familiar place to run and hide. Make sure to have a designated “safe place” set up for your cat somewhere in your tent.

This could be a tunnel, a piece of cat furniture, or even just a big cardboard box. You can set up your cat’s food food and water bowls in this area to have all the necessities nearby.

Just make sure there are at least two exits so that your cat never feels trapped!

8. Prepare For Encounters with Dogs or Larger Wildlife

As we covered in tip #5, be prepared for encounters with dogs or wild animals. Sometimes, this can even include encounters with other cats.

If your cat does come nose-to-nose with a stranger, don’t panic. Clap your hands loudly to try to break up the encounter, and if that doesn’t work, splash water on the attacker. Your cat will likely run to its safe space.

Never get physically between your cat and the attacker, since you could get badly hurt. Your cat has claws, after all, and you don’t. If you have to, use a piece of cardboard or a lightweight tabletop to separate the animals. You can even throw a blanket on the attack, if nothing else works.

However, generally the best thing you can do is be loud and get the attacker to disengage, or if it’s a domestic animal, get the help of the animal’s owner.

9. Maintain Normal Schedules

Despite being out camping, it helps your cat if you maintain the same schedule as you do at home. Try to get to bed at around the same time, get up when you usually do in the morning, and set out food bowls at the usual times.

Maintaining a normal schedule helps your cat feel more relaxed amidst all the stimulation of being in the great outdoors.

RVing with Cats vs. Tent Camping with Cats

Before moving on to our Q&A section about camping with cats, let’s go over a few other noteworthy points.

First of all, let’s go over using an RV for a cat camping trip instead of a tent. Your feline friend can easily escape through an open tent door, after all, whereas an RV is easier to keep closed.

An RV also gives your cat more room to explore both inside and outside (with supervision), making RVing with your cat potentially a perfect combination.

As you probably know, the difference between RV camping and tent camping is that an RV has similar features to a house like a kitchen tabletop, seats and chairs, a bed, etc.

This can feel a little more familiar to an indoor cat, especially if you acclimate the kitty to the RV beforehand.

Especially if this is your first time camping with cats, RV camping might be perfect for you.

Camping Is Not For Every Cat

As we’ve discussed above, not every cat is suited to a camping trip. For one thing, most cats hate car rides, which by itself could be a reason to avoid camping with your cat.

If we think about it from your cat’s eyes, she or he might not want to be carted across the country to sleep in a cold tent or car overnight.

Conversely, though, plenty of cats love the chance to be outdoors, despite a bumpy car ride. For a younger and/or more curious cat, going on a camping trip could feel both exciting and enjoyable. It just depends on the cat!

As always, one of the best ways to know is to through experimentation. You can try camping in your backyard, taking a test drive somewhere close by with your cat, or even see how your cat does with an RV ride.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Camping with Cats Be Done?

Yes! It may not seem intuitive, but you can absolutely go camping with one cat or even multiple cats. However, as we’ve discussed above, this will change the nature of your trip.

For example, you’ll need to stay with your cat at all times to ensure that she or he remains safe.

Finding a pet-friendly campsite will be important, and you’ll want to bring enough food and water for your feline friend, as well as a first aid kit suitable for a cat should anything happen.

Is It Ok to Take a Cat Camping?

This largely depends on your cat. For some cats, camping is a wonderful way to explore a new and exciting environment. For others, though, it could be a frightening experience or simply unenjoyable.

Deciding whether or not to take your cat out camping largely depends on the personality of your cat. If your kitty is already an outdoor cat, or if she or he loves adventure, then it’s probably a perfect fit.

If your cat is more wary and jumpy, though, try to take as small of steps as possible so that you don’t needlessly stress your cat out. The goal is to have an enjoyable experience for both of you, after all.

Will My Cat Run Away If I Take Her or Him Camping?

It’s always possible that your cat will get away while camping.

However, if you’ve properly prepared your cat by using test runs in your backyard to see how she or he does, you’ll have a good sense of how your cat reacts to being outside.

If you follow our advice and always have your cat on a secured leash, and you always stay with her or him, your cat is much less likely to get away.

In addition, if you want to further ensure that your cat won’t run away, consider using an RV instead of a tent and keeping your cat in there.

Can a Cat Sleep in a Tent?

Yes, a cat can sleep in a tent. For extra safety, you should also always have your cat’s leash tied to an immovable object, just in case your cat gets out of the tend.

And of course, make sure your cat has a place to sleep. That could either be a dedicated cat bed, a familiar blanket, or the foot of your sleeping bag.

Do I Need to Bring a Cat Carrier?

Definitely. Bringing a cat carrier is a must. Cat carriers are important to transport your cat to and from your tent and house.

A cat should never be loose in your vehicle, either, even if it’s stationary. An accidentally open car door could easily lead to a lost cat.

What’s the Best Way to Keep a Cat on a Leash?

While there doesn’t seem to be any logic to most cat behavior, there are at least some general “best practices” for keeping your cat on a leash.

First off, make sure to follow measurement instructions for getting the right collar fit for your cat.

A loose collar can get pulled out of, so you want to make sure it’s tight enough to stay on without being too tight that it hurts your cat.

Adoptapet.com suggests you determine the right size collar for your pet by “measuring the animal’s neck and adding one or two inches. When you put the collar on your pet, you should be able to slip two fingers comfortably between it and the cat’s neck.”

It’s also extremely important to choose a cat collar with an elastic portion or a breakaway feature so that your kitty doesn’t choke if she or he gets caught on something.

How do you Feed your Cat While Camping?

The best way to feed your cat while camping is to bring a small variety of your cat’s favorite foods, specifically two or three different flavors.

Ideally, set up your cat’s food and water bowls near or inside your cat’s “safe space” that we mentioned earlier.

When you feed your cat, try to maintain usual feeding times and habits like you would at home. This can help lower the intensity for your cat by having a few “normal” routines within all the new sights and smells.

Does a Cat Do Its Business in the Woods?

While some cats are fine doing their business outside, it’s still good practice to bring a litter box unless you’re certain your cat won’t need it.

A portable litter box folds up easily and can be great for camping (here’s some good Amazon options and a Chewy option).

These kinds of litter boxes don’t take up much space, making one good to have even just as a backup.

Conclusion

Can you take a cat camping? conclusion image.

Make Your Cat’s Life More Enjoyable by Camping!

That’s a wrap for our comprehensive guide to camping with cats!

While you might have started reading today’s article thinking only dogs can go camping, hopefully now you see it a little differently.

Cats are naturally curious creatures, especially kittens, and usually love the chance to explore a new environment.

Camping with your cat helps you and your pet bond, and can be a great idea if you’re looking to change up your usual camping routine.

Finally, as an added bonus, if your cat’s with you, then she or he can’t get into the food cupboard while you’re gone, right? 😉

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