How to prepare for camping with your cat

Camping with a cat

I think camping with a cat is one of the more difficult adventures. There is a lot to plan at first – but once you do it, each times gets easier. We went camping with Chumka when he was about 5-6 months old, and we were very lucky to be able to use a camping trailer. This year we are planning on doing car camping… which will be much much different but I will still follow the same steps to prepare for it.

Try to not get overwhelmed

I love to plan but preparing for our first camping trip with Chubber was… a lot. I did contemplated on leaving him behind couple times just because I feared that something could go wrong. As an overthinker and a planner, I can assure you that including the following steps when preparing for a little get-a-way with your critter will help you be prepared for just about anything.

Is your cat ready?

Majority of the prep happens before you even plan the trip. You want to make sure that your cat is harness and leash trained, and that he is comfortable exploring outdoors. I found helpful taking Chumka on short adventures to areas that would be similar to a place we would camp at. It helped me to understand how he could react, for example… How easily does he get distracted? or frightened? Is it easy to get him to focus back on us or the trail? What works (or doesn’t) to help him feel less anxious in this area?

Once your cat is trained and you know how your cat react to certain stimuli/ situations, you can move to the next step…

Check the weather

You might be able to handle the cold or the heat like a champ – but not your pet. If it is your cat’s first camping trip, try to book it when the weather is “mild” and “pleasant” – they will appreciate it! 😊

Outdoor safety

One thing I strongly dislike about summer is bugs. I can not stand mosquitos, ticks scare me, and horse fly bites hurt really bad… And since we like to have bug repellents on hand, it’s important to make sure your kitty is safe from them too. Ticks pose the biggest risk to your pet so make sure to speak to your veterinarian on this subject before leaving for camping. And please read on insect repellent toxicity in cats, as felines are much more susceptible to different chemicals and natural products.

Once you arrive at the campsite, take some time to cat-proof the area. Ensure there are no dangerous plants or objects that your cat could ingest, and keep food securely stored to prevent wildlife from being attracted to your campsite.

Choosing the right campsite

I know it’s pretty obvious to look for a pet friendly campsite. But another important thing to look for is the design/ layout of it. Some camping areas are more cramped than others, some give you more green space in between the families, and with some you are actually able to book the spot you want. Of course the last two options are ideal and scarce.

My advice is to try to go camping during the week or start a camping on a day where lots of people leave (and not that many come). Another tip is to come early (even before check out) and scout what’s available and who looks like they are gonna leave. That way you can find some a good spot or even choose from some!

Packing the necessities

I have a love/ hate relationship with packing – especially for camping. And having a cat just adds to the list… So here is a list of things that I pack:

  • food and water bowls,
  • enough food and snacks for the trip (and for extra 2-3 days),
  • harness and leash,
  • collar with ID,
  • couple toys (2-3 different kinds),
  • glow in the dark collar,
  • his favourite bed (if I am able to) or something that I’ve worn/ that smells like us or our place
  • jacket/ fleece (If needed)
  • cooling bandana (If needed)
  • “toilet essentials” – litterbox, litter, scoop, poop bags
  • Some kitty first aid items

Little tip: bring the gear that both you and your kitty are familiar with.

Check out this post I made on what exactly I packed for our most off grid camping trip

Campsite safety

The biggest advice for camping with your kitty is: keep your eyes on the prize (your pet). It can be a bit inconvenient, especially if you stay in a tent but it’s essential. It’s also very important that they have their ID/ air tag on them at all times, along with a glow in the dark collar when it starts to get dark.

Another thing – and it’s not really campsite safety per se – but it’s good to create a little safe space for your cat. Somewhere he can sneak in and “hide” – it might be his backpack or inside a car, and such… You never know what or who might be “in the foreign neighbourhood” so having such spot will help your cat enjoy the trip.

Some more things to consider

I found that sticking to usual routine/ schedule helps our cat with getting used to a new place. Do you have a usual time for meals, training, or playtime? Keep it up even when camping/ travelling.

Are you going to have access to fridge? It’s important to think about what you’re gonna feed your pet as it might not be possible to stick to the usual meals. It’s also very important that your cat stays hydrated as feeding dry food can quickly lead to dehydration. Adding some tuna water to food can help but you might need to think outside the box to accommodate that need.

Does your kitty go potty outside? Chumka doesn’t (unless it’s snow lol), so we have to bring our travel litterbox essentials. Please follow (local) rules for cleaning up after your pet.

Have fun! 😊💛

Most importantly, enjoy your time outdoors with your feline friend. I hope that you’re gonna have the best time ever!

Please give your pet some love from me💛

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Picture of Paulina, Chumka's Mom

Paulina, Chumka's Mom