How To Go Camping With Cats

cat camping

There is no denying that as cat owner’s our relationship with cats is changing. Just a few years ago, cats were thought to be elusive pets that only enjoyed a modicum of human company. However, as feline parents have begun to realize, cats love being around their humans.

This is why an increasing number of people are taking their cats on trips! However, as you can imagine, camping with cats is an entirely different activity. So, is it possible to take your adventure cat on this kind of journey? Find out here, including all the tips and tricks you need to make it a wonderful trip.

Can You Take Your Cat Camping?

This isn’t a straightforward question. In reality, whether or not you can take your cat camping depends entirely on its personality. Some felines are well-suited to going on such trips and others are simply not cut out for it.

So, which category does your kitty fall into? Well, there are a few different ways to settle this. You can start by figuring out what personality type your feline friend has. Research has shown that cats can fall into one of the following five personality categories:

  1. Human Cat: this is a cat that truly enjoys human company. As such, they will have no problem sharing space with you for an extended period.
  2. Hunter Cat: this cat has more feral instincts – they like to play and pounce. Depending on whether or not they are an outdoor or indoor cat, they may be rather savvy with plants, animals, etc.
  3. Cat’s Cat: this feline enjoys being around other cats. They will engage in play and even rub themselves against other felines.
  4. Cantankerous Cat: this cat can be rather sensitive to changes in their environment as well as being introduced to new people. Due to this, you will often find them on high alert. They will also react rather negatively to changes or being excessively handled.
  5. Inquisitive Cat: this cat is constantly investigating the environment around them. As such, they are prone to sniffing anything or anyone new in their territory.

A human cat or hunter cat may adapt well to going camping. With an inquisitive cat or cat’s cat, you will need to consider their needs a little more before deciding. It is clear, however, that a cantankerous cat will not be a good fit for a camping trip.

In the end, it is up to you to determine whether or not your pet is suitable to take on a camping trip. After all, you have a good idea of their personality type. At the same time, you will have some experience with past interactions and reactions. Thus, you will be the best judge of how they could react to going on a camping trip.

Easing Your Cat Into the Experience

Even if you have a rather adventurous kitty on your hands, this doesn’t mean you can simply pack them up and whisk them away on your camping trip. Even outdoor cats need to be acclimatized to camping. Easing them into the experience will ensure they don’t have a negative reaction when you take them on your trip.

So, how do you ease your cat into camping?

Begin Harness Training

Well, if they are an indoor cat, you can get them accustomed to being outside. If you have a backyard, this is an excellent place to start. First, make sure that your cat is comfortable with a cat’s harness and leash. Get one that is suitable for your cat and put it on. Continue this practice until they are comfortable enough to let you walk them.

If your outdoor cat isn’t used to a leash, you need to take it slow. Always start this exercise inside. Then, once they stop noticing it as much, move their training to the outdoors. This way, they will be less likely to make a break for it.

Get Them Used to the Outdoors

Once they can walk around your backyard on a leash, try taking them for a walk around your neighborhood. This will expose them to new sights, sounds, and smells – many of which they will encounter while camping.

Don’t go too far on the first attempt, though. Always stay close to your home during the first few outings. You should also watch your cat carefully. If they appear agitated, make sure to take them inside quickly. After a while, the environment shouldn’t stress them out as much.

Try Acclimatizing to Tents

Your next task involves getting your feline friend used to a tent. Of course, you should be aware that this may not be something your cat will like to do. So, it is a good idea to establish this well in advance.

First, set up the tent inside your home. Then, leave the tent door open, let your cat explore it, and check it out for themselves. Once they know it isn’t a threat, you can leave their cat bed, some toys, and treats inside. Eventually, they will make themselves at home.

Once this is done, you need to get your pet used to the idea of sharing a tent with you. You can start by stowing your sleeping bags in the tent. Then, just hang out inside with your cat. Once they are used to this, try zipping up the tent while you’re inside. First, limit it to a few minutes, then gradually increase the amount of time with each attempt.

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If your kitten appears to be adapting to this activity, you can set the tent up outside and give the exercise another try. It is a good idea to spend at least one night inside your tent with your cat before you go camping.

Mapping Out Your Trip

Having a cat with you on your camping trip can give you a wonderful new perspective. Their curiosity and playfulness can add great joy to the trip. At the same time, you have to appreciate that there are limitations that come along with this.

This is why you need to map out your trip ahead of time and make sure that it is appropriate for your cat. To begin with, check that you can make frequent stops along the way to the campsite. These should be areas that your cat can walk around in.

When it comes to the camping grounds, look at safety reports. Is the terrain rugged? Are there a lot of bears, foxes, or other critters running around? What are the temperatures like? Does it get very cold or hot – can you expect a great deal of rain?

If you are planning to go on a hike, find out more about the trail. Look for wide, relatively flat terrain. Avoid anything that involves a great deal of climbing or rough terrain.

Preparing Your Cat for Camping

There are several things that you need to do to prep your pet before you take them camping. After all, the wilderness has a lot more potential threats than your home or local neighborhood. As such, your kitty needs to be safeguarded against certain aspects.

Stay Up-to-Date on Vaccinations and Worming

It is a good idea to ensure that your cat is up-to-date on their vaccinations and that they are de-wormed. There is no telling what kind of dirt, bacteria, or other contagions your cat can come into contact with. So, it is best to be prepared for anything.

Consider Flea Preventative Treatments

Have your vet provide you with recommendations for flea preventative treatments. This is especially important if you are planning on taking your cat on hikes or walks. There is a good chance that you may encounter a flea or tick invasion.

As you are well aware, getting rid of these critters is no fun. A far better option is to prevent these infestations. Make sure the preventative treatment will work for the duration of your trip.


The last thing you want is your cat getting lost on a camping trip. At the same time, you have to accept that this is a possibility. So, it is a good idea to come up with some measures to prevent this.

If you haven’t already chipped your cat, now is the time to do it. Of course, in the wilderness, this may not be of much help. Nevertheless, it is important to get it done in advance. It is also handy to use a GPS tracker. These can be clipped onto your cat’s collar.

Then, it is just a matter of downloading the associated app. Using GPS, Wi-Fi, and sometimes Bluetooth, you will be able to keep track of your cat’s location. Now, there is a limit to how far this connection will last – once your cat moves beyond a certain distance, you will lose the signal. Still, this is a more effective search tool than most.

Packing for Your Cat’s Camping Trip

Your cat probably has quite a few possessions that they are used to. As such, you need to ensure that you properly pack for their camping trip.

Food and Food Accessories

First things first, take your cat’s preferred food with you. If you are only going for a few days, it may be easier for you to pack every serving in a separate zip-lock bag. This way, there will be no hassle when it comes to measuring out their meals.

You should always take more than you need. Delays and other issues are always possible. And, if you are headed to a remote location or if your cat needs a special kind of food, it may not be easy to find what you are looking for.

Also, take your cat’s food and water bowl with you. If you want to travel light, you can always get collapsible bowls. Collapsible water bowls will be helpful if you are planning on doing any hiking.


You will also need to take bottled water for your cats. You may come across ponds or streams, but it isn’t safe for your cat to drink from them, just as it’s unsafe for you. These watering holes could contain bacteria and there is a chance that your cat could fall ill. It is always best to give them the same water you are drinking.

Bed, Toys, Etc.

Taking your cat’s bed, blankets, and toys can help them stay comfortable and feel protected in a new environment. At the same time, there is no need to travel with anything more than necessary. When it comes to toys, for instance, just take a few that your cat can’t do without.


Remember to take a litter box and plenty of kitty litter too. There is a chance that your cat may not mind going in the woods or the dirt. If they do balk at the idea, though, it is best to have an alternative. Try using eco-friendly litter so that you won’t be causing any damage to the surrounding area.

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Cat Backpacks

Are you planning on covering long stretches of land on foot? While that might sound good to you, the same can’t be said for cats. They have their limits, so it is best to give them some space.

To ensure that you don’t have to turn back whenever your cat gets tired, purchase a cat backpack. You can wear them on your back like a traditional backpack. They will have a space for your cat, complete with air holes and a transparent portion through which your cat can look out.

If you decide to purchase one of these, get your cat used to it before you venture out on your camping trip.

Your Travel Options When Camping With Cats

Your next order of business as a cat owner is to make sure your cat is comfortable while traveling to the campsite. There are several things to keep in mind, depending on the length of your journey as well as how you will be traveling.

Traveling by Car

You will most likely be traveling by car. This means that you need to place your cat in a kitty carrier for the duration of your journey. If you only use a cat carrier to take your cat to the vet, it is now time to change this.

Place your cat in the carrier and try traveling short distances before returning home. Slowly extend the distance of your journey. This will prove to your cat that not all car rides end at the vet. As such, they are more likely to stay calm during the entire journey.

The carrier should be in your line of sight at all times. Place it on a seat and use a seatbelt to keep the carrier fixed to one place at all times. There may be other types of belts or barriers meant specifically for cats. These should work well. However, your feline friend should remain in its carrier for the entire journey.

Before you take your cat out of the carrier, make sure the car is parked on the side of the road. The windows should be fully rolled up and the doors should be closed, with someone in the back seat. Then, you can open your cat carrier.

Feed your cat about three to four hours before you leave home. This will reduce their chances of vomiting in the cat carrier. They may also settle down for a nap more readily if they aren’t hungry.

Stick to your food and water schedule as usual. Only feed them at their regular mealtimes. You can give them treats in small amounts to help them feel more comfortable with the journey.

Most cats can stay in their carrier for several hours. If you are planning a long journey, though, it is important to take scheduled breaks. Make stops where your cat can stretch their legs (on a leash, of course) and use their litter box.

Don’t leave your cat in the car by themselves. And, remember, cars can heat up quickly. Make sure that the air conditioning is on if you do leave the car. It is best for someone to keep an eye on your cat at these times.

Camping With Cats in an RV

If you are traveling in an RV, you will probably be on the road for a few days. Although you may be in a larger space than a car, you shouldn’t let your cat roam free. Rather, keep them in their cat carrier for the duration of the journey. The carrier should be tied down with a belt or some other mechanism.

Only let your cat out of the carrier once the RV has come to a complete halt and is in a parking space. All windows are doors should be closed. Remember, your cat is very good at wriggling out of small spaces. So, don’t leave anything to chance.

With RVs, you can cover a greater distance. However, you should try to take breaks every 3 or 4 hours. Your cat needs exercise and will want to use its litter box as normal. Keeping them cooped up for too long isn’t good for their mental or physical health.

Handling Your Cat on a Campsite

You need to know how to handle your cat once you have settled in the campgrounds. To begin with, never let your cat out of your sight.

You can fix their leash onto something for a short time, but don’t rely on this measure for too long. Most cats will try to get away. They may either succeed or potentially hurt themselves.

If you think you’ll be busy for a while, place your cat back in its carrier for the duration. Don’t just let them outside, though, as there could be wild animals about. You should place them in your vehicle, with a window lowered or the air conditioning on.

Keep in mind that your cat needs to get used to its surroundings. This includes campfires. So, while it may seem cute for them to cozy up by the fire, stop them from getting too close. Although they may not get close enough to hurt themselves, they could end up with singed whiskers.

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Taking Your Cat on Hikes

If your cat enjoys going for walks at home, they would probably enjoy a good hike as well. It isn’t as simple as strapping on a harness and heading out. For one thing, hikes tend to be a lot longer than walks.

Due to this, you need to make sure to take enough water with you – and don’t forget the collapsible bowl! At the same time, be aware that even the most athletic feline will have its limits. So, watch your cat carefully. When they get tired, bring out the cat backpack.

If your cat doesn’t respond well to the backpack, see if you can carry them in your arms. If the terrain doesn’t allow for that, then it is probably time to head back.

Cats Near Water

If you are camping near water, keep an eye on your cat. As mentioned, don’t let them drink from ponds or streams. You may also want to make sure that your cat doesn’t get too close to the water as there is a chance that they may fall in.

Most cats will manage to break through the surface in shallow enough areas, but they may panic at the same time. If the water has a current, they may get swept along with it. Due to this, it is best to keep them away from bodies of water as much as possible.

Cat Sleeping Arrangements

If your cat gets used to sleeping in a tent, you’ll have fewer worries. You can set up their bed inside and allow them to settle in for the night. Just make sure you have your cat well in hand before you unzip the tent door. Otherwise, they may dash out.

In case your cat doesn’t enjoy sleeping in a tent, keep them in your car. Try folding down the seats so that there is more space to place their bed and bowl of water. It is also a good idea to set up a litter tray so that there won’t be any accidents.

If you are keeping your cat in the car, make sure there is a barrier separating the front seats. This reduces the risk of your kitty accidentally pressing anything they shouldn’t.

At the same time, keep the windows rolled up (but the aircon on, if it is summer) during the night. There are plenty of critters about and you don’t want them getting into your car. It is a good idea to stay as close to your car as you can at night.

What to Do If You Lose Your Cat

No one wants to imagine this possibility when camping with cats, but there is a chance that you may lose your cat on the trip. They could get free of their harness or get spooked and take off. You will then be tasked with finding them.

If you have them geotagged, your job becomes much easier. If you haven’t done this, don’t give up hope, there is plenty you can do. First, try calling their name in a soothing tone and shaking treats – this may help them find their way back to you.

When you are out searching for them, use a flashlight – light is often reflected from a cat’s eyes, giving away their position. If your cat is frightened, they will look for shelter, so make sure to look in any small spaces that you come across.

At the same time, don’t forget to look up. Cats tend to feel more comfortable when they have a vantage point. So, if there are any trees, look in that direction as well.


Here are some frequently asked questions about camping with cats:

1. Can I Take My Cat Camping?

Yes, you can take your cat camping. However, know that not all cats are suited to this outdoor activity. So, you must first decide whether your cat will enjoy the experience.

2. Can Cats Sleep in Tents?

Cats can sleep in tents. Once again, not all of them may want to. Test how your cat will react to your tent while indoors. This may give you some idea of how they will react when camping.

3. Can I Take My Cat in an RV?

Yes, you can take your cat in an RV. They shouldn’t be allowed to roam free while the vehicle is in motion, though. Instead, they should remain in their cat carrier, buckled to a seat to keep them in one place.

4. Can You Take Your Cat on Hikes?

You can take your cat on hikes as long as they are comfortable with a harness and leash. Bear in mind that your cat may not be able to walk as far as you. So, stay equipped with a cat backpack to carry them the rest of the way.

This wraps up what you need to know about taking your cat on a camping trip. Now that you are aware of how to go about it, you should be better equipped to plan a truly magical time for both humans and felines!

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