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How to camp with a cat

People go camping with dogs all the time, but cats?

Not so much!

Despite this, taking your cat camping can be a wonderful bonding experience and an exciting adventure for the both of you.

A cat standing in front of a tent.

The thing is, a cat isn’t a dog.

Cats don’t eat, sleep, behave, or listen to you like dogs do, which means you need to have a cat-specific strategy for camping.

Here’s what we recommend.

What’s your cat like?

A cat lying in the grass.

Consider your cat’s personality and what they enjoy.

Some cats love to be outdoors, while others are timid or scared of new things.

If your cat is timid, you may want to start out slowly with a short camping trip close to home.

You can work up to longer trips as your cat gets used to being in the outdoors.

If your cat is older, or if they have health issues, it may be best to avoid bringing camping altogether.

Remember that you don’t want to stress your cat out.

If you truly think your cat will do just fine on a camping trip, then it can be a good idea to bring them.

But always consider your cat’s personality, health, and age first.

Preparation tips for bringing your cat camping

It isn’t as simple as throwing your cat’s bed and litter box in your car.

Here are some other things to consider before heading out.

Choose a pet-friendly campsite

A campsite number sign and a tent.

Before you take your cat camping, make sure the campground is pet-friendly.

Not all campsites allow furry friends, so it’s important to check before you book your trip.

You can usually find this information on the campground’s website or by calling them directly.

Leash train your cat

A cat on a leash and harness.

Getting your cat comfortable with a leash and harness is essential for a safe camping experience.

Start by letting your cat wear the harness around the house and gradually introduce them to it over time.

Practice walking your cat on the leash, indoors first, and then try outdoor walks to help them adjust.

This will help prevent your cat from wandering off and encountering potentially dangerous wildlife during the camping trip. 

Cat Expedition has some good tips for leash training your cat.

Pack essential cat camping gear

A cat sleeping in a cat bed.

It helps to have a list of items to bring that will keep your cat happy and comfortable in the wilderness.

Here are some common items to help you get started:

  • Cat food and treats
  • Collapsible water bowl
  • Harness, collar, and leash
  • LED collar lights
  • Cat first aid kit
  • Collapsible litter box with litter
  • Poop bags
  • Cat toys and entertainment
  • Blankets or a small cat bed
  • Small cat carrier

Prepare for the weather

A cat with scarf on i n the snow.

Before heading out on your camping adventure, it’s important to check the weather forecast.

You’ll want to avoid taking your cat camping in extreme temperatures (too hot or too cold).

Also, consider your cat’s coat when planning your trip.

If your cat is a hairless breed or has fine, light-coloured hair, they may need sunscreen for protection.

Cats don’t do very well with coats or sweaters, but in the most necessary cases where the weather is cold, you can use them.

Keep in mind you may need to help your cat get used to wearing clothing beforehand—and they might really hate it.

Make sure your three-season tent is big enough for you and your cat, bring an extra tarp shelter in case it rains, and bring along a towel to wipe down your cat’s fur if it gets wet.

Gear and accessories for your cat

Your cat might need much, but it’s always important to be prepared with the right gear.

The following items can help keep your cat comfortable and safe.

Set up a comfortable cat tent

A cat inside a small green cat tent.

Consider preparing a separate tent or shelter for your cat, providing them with their own space and protection from potential hazards in the campground.

A portable, collapsible pet tent can be a great option.

Including a cozy bed, blankets, and some familiar toys will make your cat feel more at ease in the new environment.

We’re a big fan of the Fooubaby pop-up cat tent, which is made of mesh so they can see outside and keep cool in the breeze.

Put your cat’s tent close to your own, so you can keep an eye on them and check on them frequently.

Use a secure cat carrier and harness

A cat on the beach beside a backpack carrier.

A sturdy cat carrier is essential for transporting your cat to and from the campsite.

Choose a carrier with good ventilation and enough space for your cat to move around comfortably.

You can even get carriers that double as backpacks—so you can take them with you on your hikes!

Grab a harness and leash to securely explore the outdoors together.

Make sure the harness fits snugly, but not too tight, around your cat’s body.

Keep your cat on a leash when outside the tent to avoid escape or wandering.

You may also want to invest in a GPS collar to track your cat’s whereabouts in case they manage to slip away.

To keep your cat safe after the sun goes down, outfit their harness and leash with LED collar lights, making them more visible in low-light conditions.

Create a portable litter box

A cat litter box.

Maintaining your cat’s bathroom routine while camping is important.


Pack a portable, collapsible litter box and their usual litter to keep them comfortable.

Providing your cat with access to their regular litter will help reduce stress.

Bring a supply of poop bags, and remember to dispose of waste properly and responsibly in designated areas, following the campground’s rules and regulations.

Pack a small litter scoop and keep it with the portable litter box to maintain cleanliness throughout your trip.

By properly equipping yourself with the right gear and accessories for cat camping, you’ll create a smoother experience for both you and your feline friend.

Food and water for your cat

When you take your cat camping, it’s important to pack enough food to keep your furry friend satisfied and energized.

Here’s how to make sure your cat is well fed and properly hydrated throughout your trip.

Pack extra food and treats

A cat eating food out of a bowl.

Plan to bring about 50% more food for each day than your cat would normally eat at home.

The reason for this is that your cat may need the extra energy when they’re outdoors and exploring.

So, if your cat usually eats 1 cup of kibble per day, pack 1.5 cups per day for your trip.

Stick to the same food your cat eats at home to prevent digestive issues.

Keep food in a sealed container

A plastic container.

Bring your cat’s usual dry food, but store it in an airtight container to ensure the kibble stays fresh and free from pests like mice or ants.

Don’t forget to bring along some treats for your cat, as well.

They’ll appreciate the extra goodies during your adventure.

When packing food away for the night, pack it with your own food in your vehicle, inside a bear locker, or hung up in a tree to prevent animals from reaching it.

Make sure your cat stays hydrated

A cat drinking water from a pot.

Hydration is key when camping with cats.

A common misconception is that wet food can keep your cat hydrated, but this isn’t enough.

Your cat needs access to fresh water to stay properly hydrated when camping.

Avoid giving your cat water directly from streams, ponds, or creeks, as these sources can contain parasites or bacteria that could make them sick.

Bring along a water bowl and make sure it’s filled with fresh drinking water throughout your trip.

Offer them clean, filtered water that’s bee purified or boiled first.

Keep an eye on their water consumption and make sure they drink enough.

This is especially important if you’re visiting an area where temperatures are higher than what your cat is used to.

Health and safety tips for your cat

The last thing you’d want is for your cat to get sick or injured while out in the wilderness.

Here are some tips to keep them safe and healthy.

Protect your cat from ticks and fleas

A cat with a tick in its fur.

These pests can carry diseases, cause skin irritation, and lead to anemia in your feline friend.

To keep your cat healthy, use flea and tick prevention treatments recommended by your veterinarian.

Additionally, make sure to check your cat regularly for ticks during your camping trip, especially around their ears, neck, and paws.

If you find a tick, safely remove it and dispose of it properly.

Make sure your cat has a microchip or ID tags

A cat with ID tags on its collar.

It can help to have a microchip implanted in your cat, but keep in mind it won’t let you track them if they get lost.

A microchip will only help with identification if they happen to end up at a shelter.

At the very least, your cat should have up-to-date ID tags attached to their collar or harness.

This helps improve the chances of reuniting with your cat if they ever get lost while camping.

Besides your contact information, it’s a good idea to include the name and phone number of the campground or park where you’re staying.

Carry a first-aid kit for your cat

first aid kit and hiking boots

There’s always a chance your cat could encounter hazards like sharp objects or rough terrain that could lead to injuries.

It’s a good idea to carry a first-aid kit specifically designed for cats, which you can find at most pet stores.

The kit should include items like antiseptic wipes and ointment, bandage wrap, tweezers, gauze pads and tape, and tick removal tools.

Here are some other items to include:

  • Tweezers for removing splinters or ticks
  • Scissors
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Adhesive tape
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • An instant cold pack

Some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep your cat up-to-date on their vaccinations before travelling.
  • Don’t let your cat near other animals, especially wild ones like raccoons or skunks.
  • Don’t keep your cat in your tent during the day for extended periods.
  • Check your campsite for hazards like small bodies of water, holes or other dangerous objects.
  • Keep your cat away from fire pits, barbecues and grills.
  • If you’re going near a body of water, make sure to keep your cat away from it.
  • Monitor your cat for signs of stress or anxiety.
  • Be aware of any local wildlife that could harm your cat, such as bears, snakes and cougars.
  • Feed your cat only the food they’re accustomed to so their digestive system doesn’t get thrown off by the change in environment.

Remember to also take your cat’s medications and a copy of their medical records, in case you need to consult with a vet while on your trip.

Camping activities to enjoy with your cat

You definitely don’t want to keep your cat cooped up in your tent all day—you might as well just leave them at home if you’re considering it.

Believe it or not, there are lots of fun camping activities you can enjoy with your cat.

Explore national, state, or provincial parks and forests

A woman holding a cat in the back of a car.

When planning your cat camping trip, make sure to choose a pet-friendly destination.

Some parks and forests allow cats, but always check the specific rules and regulations before visiting.

Once you’ve found the perfect location, your adventure cat will love exploring the great outdoors with you.

You’ll both enjoy sniffing out new scents, watching for wildlife, and getting some fresh air and exercise.

Hike with your adventure cat

A person hiking with a cat on a harness and leash.

If your cat hasn’t been on a hike before, it’s never too late to give it a try. 

Hiking is an excellent activity to enjoy while camping.

Make sure your cat is properly leash trained and always keep an eye on them, as unexpected challenges or wildlife may pop up along the trail.

Not only will you both get some exercise, but your cat will also have a blast investigating their new surroundings.

Bond with your cat through playtime and treats

A cat playing with a toy outside.

Spending time in nature with your cat strengthens your bond, so don’t forget to pack some of their favourite treats and toys to keep them engaged and happy.

For instance, consider using a wand or a feather that triggers their natural hunting instincts.

Besides providing exercise and mental stimulation, playtime helps your cat feel more comfortable in their new environment, making the camping experience more enjoyable for both of you.

Remember to always supervise playtime and only give treats when appropriate.

These fun activities will make your camping trip with your adventure cat a memorable experience.

Happy camping!

Next up: How to go camping with a puppy