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Tips and Tricks for Tent Camping with Cats

A growing number of cat lovers are bringing their furry friends along on their outdoor adventures. Whether you prefer glamping with all the amenities or backpacking into a more rustic site in the wilderness, your cat can join in on the adventures. To help you get started, we have answered the most common questions we hear about tent camping with cats in this guide. Let’s get started!

cat sitting in tent looking out open door | Tips and Tricks for Tent Camping with Cats

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Can You Camp in a Tent with a Cat?

Have you ever considered taking your cat camping but dismissed the idea because you tent camp? If so, you’re not alone. There is a common misconception that cats can’t camp safely in a tent. Don’t let this discourage you from including your best friend in your travels.

While there are some unique concerns to address when camping with cats, but it can be done. There are many adventure cats embracing their love of the outdoors with their human family members.

Not only is camping with cats a great way to build your bond, but it also alleviates one of the biggest travel concerns shared by cat parents – what to do with your cat when you’re not home. Gone are the days of searching for a pet sitter to watch over your cats while you’re exploring the great outdoors.

The secret to a successful tent camping trip with your cat is to take your time introducing the concept.

No two cats are the same. This means that every cat will adjust to the world of camping at their own pace. Allow your cat to dictate the speed that you move through the adjustment phase.

How Can I Get My Cat Used to a Tent?

One of the most important things that you can do before camping with a cat is to introduce her to your tent at home. This will give her an opportunity to get used to the tent in the safety of a familiar space like your backyard or living room.

Set the tent up and give your cat some time to just check it out. This could involve walking around it, eyeing it up from a distance, sniffing at it, and exploring inside.

You can begin to create a positive association with the tent by feeding your cat in the tent or placing some of her favourite toys inside. Another possibility is to get comfortable inside the tent yourself with your cat’s favourite treats, giving her a little something special every time that she comes in to join you.

As you see your cat becoming more comfortable around the tent, try spending a night inside.

Set up your tent with everything that your cat would need during your travels including a litter box, food and water, and her favourite bed from at home.

If things don’t go so well the first night and she becomes anxious or restless, don’t be afraid to end your ‘trip’ early. One of the biggest perks of camping at home is that you don’t have far to go when you decide that the camping adventure is over. It may take multiple attempts to work up to spending a full night, and that’s okay!

Take note of any sources of stress or anxiety for your cat. This will help you make the experience more comfortable for everyone involved. For example, some cats feel safer and more content in an enclosed pet playpen space.

There is no one ‘right way’ to enjoy tent camping with cats. Don’t be afraid to experiment, try new things, and find what works best for you and your feline friend.

cat walking away from tent | Tips and Tricks for Tent Camping with Cats

Where Do You Put a Cat Litter Box in a Tent?

When taking a cat tent camping, one important consideration is how you are going to make a litter box available to her when needed. This includes not only out and about at the campsite during the day but also in the tent at night.

Luckily, there are some great litter box options to consider. This includes collapsible litter boxes for easy travel or, if your cat prefers, covered litter boxes to offer some added privacy.

In the tent, we have found the best place to put the litter box is to tuck it in a corner of the tent. The other option is, if we’re camping with cot beds instead of a standard air mattress, we can make use of the space under the bed.

You will want to find a cat litter that effectively controls odours in that small space. If possible, you’ll also want to stick to one with minimal or no dust during use. If you are concerned about scents, you can also use a litter deodorizer to further contain the smells that come with having a cat companion.

Make sure to stay on top of cleaning your cat’s litterbox as soon as possible when it’s used. Not only will this help to control the smell, but it’s an important step in terms of safety when camping in bear country.

Pro tip: Use dog poop bags to easily clean up and deal with your cat’s business.

Not Every Cat Is a Camping Cat

While we would love to say that every cat can be taught to camp, the hard truth is that not every cat is a camping cat. Some cats are happier with the comforts of home.

As you introduce the concept of camping, your cat is going to communicate her feelings and reactions in a variety of ways. This could be through body language or changes in behaviour. As a cat parent, it’s your job to listen to what your cat is trying to tell you.

Just as some people are uncomfortable with sleeping outdoors, the same can be said for cats.

Forcing the experience of camping on a cat that isn’t comfortable will ruin the experience not only for your cat but for you as well.

If you notice that your cat is not happy with camping, the best thing that you can do is to find alternate arrangements. Consider arranging for your cat to spend some time with a trusted friend/family member or at a nice pet hotel while you’re camping so that you can both enjoy this vacation time in your own way.

cat looking out open tent door | Tips and Tricks for Tent Camping with Cats

Tips for Taking Your Cat Camping Safely

Schedule a Pre-Camping Visit with Your Veterinarian

Before heading out on any adventures with your cat, make an appointment for a check-up with your veterinarian. This is a chance to make sure there are no health concerns with your cat travelling outdoors. It’s also the perfect time to make sure that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date.

Double-Check Identification

Take a moment to double-check the information on your cat’s ID tags. Not only should you make sure that the contact information is current, but check that the tags are still legible. Over time, they can be worn down to the point that is hard to read the information provided. Finally, if your cat is microchipped, make sure the contact details associated with that are also up to date.

Prepare for the Weather Conditions

In the days leading up to your trip, pay careful attention to the weather forecast. Take this into consideration when packing your gear. If the weather is going to be incredibly hot, bring some gear to help keep your cat’s temperature down, like a cooling bed. On the other hand, if you’re planning a trip on a cool fall day, you may want to include a heating pad or some extra blankets to allow your cat to sleep comfortably at night.

Be Mindful of Your Cat’s Normal Schedule

One of the most overlooked tips for taking your cat camping relates to your routine throughout the day. To help reduce any stress that your cat may experience in a new space, try to stick to the normal schedule that your cat is used to at home. This includes simple things like feeding her at the same time and cuddling her before bed if that’s part of your nighttime routine.  

Never Leave Your Cat Unsupervised

There are far too many predators and risks that could endanger your cat when camping.  For this reason, you should make a point of always keeping your cat close by where you can keep a watchful eye on her. Given their smaller size, cats are an easy target for predators like hawks and coyotes.

For short trips to the bathroom or the shower, either bring your cat along or make sure that she’s fully contained and out of sight of local wildlife.  For added security and to prevent your cat from sneaking out, place your cat inside her playpen or carrier inside your tent.

Protect Your Cat Against Fleas and Ticks

Spending time outdoors will greatly increase your cat’s risk of fleas and ticks. But there are reliable options to keep these unwanted hitchhikers at bay. Not only do fleas and ticks bite, making for an uncomfortable situation, but they are also carriers of some serious diseases. Before tent camping with our cats, we always take the time to apply a flea and tick preventative.

cat standing outside of tent | Tips and Tricks for Tent Camping with Cats

Be Cautious Around the Campfire

What is camping without a campfire? But, as cat parents, we need to be careful about our feline friends. The campfire is often a new experience, and their curiosity can get the best of them. Keep an eye on your cat anytime she’s near a fire, or keep her contained in a playpen or outdoor enclosure if needed to keep her safe.

Avoid Crowded Trails or Areas

Choose your campsite and any planned activities carefully to try to avoid the more populated and busy areas. Not only are these crowded spaces louder, which can be overwhelming for your cat, but there is a higher risk of encountering unleashed dogs, high-energy children, and other situations that may be uncomfortable for your cat.

Instead, choose a campsite that is further away from high-traffic areas like playgrounds and beaches.  If possible, find a site that is a little more private with a buffer of vegetation between you and your nearby campers.

If you are heading out hiking with your cat and are worried about how many people you may encounter along the way, a cat backpack is always a good investment. Not only does this offer a safe place to contain your cat if needed, but it’s also a comfortable place for your cat to relax when a break is needed for her little legs on longer hikes.

Provide Your Cat with a Place to Escape To

When tent camping with cats, space is slightly limited. This means that you need to be strategic to fit everything that you and your cat are going to require. Luckily, a place to escape to doesn’t have to be large or elaborate. It just needs to be a safe space for your cat to retreat to when she wants to be left alone.

One easy way to incorporate that in the tent is to bring a covered cat bed. Place it in a quiet corner of the tent away from the door. If you have children, make sure that they know that when she’s in her bed, she doesn’t want to be disturbed.

Must-Have Cat Camping Gear

As you make your packing list, there are a few items that can make or break your camping experience. These are items that help you to keep your cat safely contained as well as address her most basic needs. For us, this is cat camping gear that we wouldn’t be without!

KingCamp Portable Pet Playpen

This easy-to-set-up/tear-down pet playpen is a great option for keeping your cat safely contained while still offering her plenty of space to move around. Not only can the KingCamp Portable Pet Playpen be used as a space to keep your cat outdoors while you relax during the day, but it’s also a great option for keeping your cat contained in the tent at night.

Pet Fit For Life Collapsible Portable Cat Litter Box

If you’re camping with cats, a litter box is an obvious need. But you can make this easier on yourself by purchasing a collapsible cat litter box for your travels. We love the Pet Fit For Life Collapsible Portable Cat Litter Box because it is a durable canvas box with a waterproof liner to keep everything contained.

cat walking around tent | Tips and Tricks for Tent Camping with Cats

PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash

One of the most important things that you can teach your cat before going camping is to be comfortable on a leash. Of course, this means that you will need a reliable harness. The PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash is our go-to harness for both of our cats. They are comfortable, minimalistic for cats that aren’t comfortable wearing a lot, and have stood up well to the test of time.

Pet Fit For Life Outdoor Cat Enclosure

When spending time at the campsite, you may want to give your cat a little more room to play, relax, and enjoy the fresh outdoor air. The Pet Fit For Life Outdoor Cat Enclosure includes a large cat tent, a tunnel, and a smaller cube providing you with plenty of space for everything your cat could want throughout the day.

tips and tricks for camping with cats safely pin

Do you have experience tent camping with cats? If so, we would love to hear about your adventures and any advice that you have to share in the comments.  

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