Take Your Cat Camping

My cat Trouble has accompanied me yearly for two-three weeks at a time on camping road trips of thousands of miles. He has been to Yellowstone National Park, Teton, Glacier National Park, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Great Basin National parks. We have explored beaches from Astoria, Washington to Carpinteria, California.

Taking a cat camping will differ from taking a dog. Dogs enjoy the trip in the car, cats cry for about an hour at the start, but usually settle down after awhile. It's helpful to have a litter box in the car if possible so you are not wondering if that's the reason for the ruckus. Dogs like to get out and see new places upon arriving, cats will usually take their time getting comfortable before they even want out of the car. Dogs will appreciate a walk on the beach, trail, or around the campground, a cat will prefer to sit atop a rock or table and observe, or stay safely inside the tent watching through the door.

But you can take your cat along, you just have to take these differences into consideration when dealing with your pet. It is best if your cat has been using a halter and leash since he or she was young, as Trouble has, so if you have a kitten, start right away. If you have an older cat, see if you can get them to adapt. As long as you do not try to take them for a walk, (you can not walk a cat, they walk you, or you end up dragging them) any cat should be fine, just leashed so they can not run away and get lost.

Since cats really can not be taken for a walk, a pet stroller is very helpful, I use one often on trails and beaches. Just around camp, he is restrained by the leash to keep him safe, I often let him explore while I'm at the other end of the leash, he really enjoys exploring this way.

Make sure your tent is secure at night, have a blanket for him to sleep on and water and food as well as a litter box, so you will not be disturbed. Trouble likes to eat during the night and he moves from my bed to the floor and back. Cats are nocturnal, so they will enjoy the evening outside with you much more than during the daytime, but be sure he can not get away, or get out of the tent during the night, that is when they are likely to disappear.

Some things I have found useful through the years when camping with your pets include:

1. Have a bag for all of your pet's needs, bowls, food, treats, leashes, harnesses, collars, comb, brush, toys, medications, and immunization records. This way you have everything together.

2. Always keep your pet leashed, or tied, and make sure the harness you are using can not be pulled off. You never know when they may become frightened, or want to go after some little creature. Do not let them get lost.

3. Have your pet micro chipped as well as a tag on the harness with your cell phone number.

4. Make sure immunizations are up to date

5. If you plan an activity where you will be unable to take your pet along while on your trip, make arrangement beforehand to board them for the day.

6. Take a familiar blanket, so they will feel at home.