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Cat enjoying the outdoors with a green cat tent

Think camping and cats don’t quite mix? Well, think again!

If you’re the proud human to an adventurous feline, heading out on a camping trip can be a great way to get outside without having to leave your furry baby behind. 

Camping with cats takes a good amount of planning, however, to ensure that your trip goes off without a hitch.

To help you get started and make the most of your time with your favorite feline in the great outdoors, here is our ultimate guide to camping with cats.

Taking Your Cat Camping Guide

Planning is everything when it comes to camping with cats. Felines can be a fantastic, yet tricky, bunch to adventure with, so keep the following in mind as you head out on your camping trip.

Ensure That Your Cat Is Ready To Adventure 

While some cats are ready to hike and explore, others are homebodies who’d rather spend all day lounging on the couch.

As a result, it’s imperative that you figure out if your cat is actually ready to adventure before you head out on your first trip. 

Any camping cat should be both up to date on their vaccines and comfortable on a harness. Also, it’s important that your cat is able to respond to your calls so that they come back to you if they manage to escape from their harness. 

Bengal cat in a harness outdoor

Get The Right Cat Harness & Collar 

All adventure cats should have a collar with ID tags, just in case they run away during your camping trip. It’s also worth investing in a microchip so that you can be reunited with your feline should you get separated while outside. 

And although you could simply attach a leash to your cat’s collar, it’s definitely worth getting a properly-fitting harness before you go camping.

Harnesses are more difficult for cats to slip out of, and they put less pressure on their sensitive neck while they’re on the leash. 

Oh, and don’t forget to add LED lights to your cat’s harness or collar for camping trips so that they’re fully visible at night. Doing so can make it easier to spot your cat should they decide to make a mad dash for a chipmunk after the sun goes down. 

The following video will show you how to train your cat to walk with a harness.

Find A Cat-Friendly Camping Area 

While your kitten might be cute and cuddly, not all camping areas are cat-friendly.

That being said most campgrounds and public lands will have rules and regulations regarding dogs, but you might have a hard time finding specific guidelines about whether or not you can bring your cat. 

When in doubt, go with the simple rule that if dogs aren’t allowed, cats probably aren’t either.

Most national parks and some private campgrounds don’t allow pets, so be sure to check the rules at your local camping area before you start planning any big adventures. 

Check The Weather Before You Leave 

Cats are a resilient bunch, but they don’t always like to be cold and wet. This is especially true for cats that have very short fur, which means that they might get very cold on a rainy day.

Conversely, cats with very long fur can overheat when it’s very hot outside. So, be sure to check the weather before you leave home and plan your trip accordingly.

Depending on the conditions, it might be worth bringing a cat raincoat or insulated jacket to keep your feline warm while you’re outside. 

Cat on a rock eating food

Pack Extra Food & Snacks 

Your resident feline might not be a big eater, but even the smallest of cats can burn quite a lot of calories after a day of hiking and exploring. Therefore, you’ll want to pack plenty of extra food and snacks for each day that you’re outside. 

As a general rule, plan to bring about 50% more food for each day than your cat would normally eat. So, if they usually eat 1 cup of kibble per day at home, bring 1.5 cups per day for your trip. 

Also, don’t forget to pack some treats! Your cat will be glad that you did. 

Consider A Litter Box 

Some cats are more than happy to do their business outside: the world is just one big litter box, right?

But while this is true, others prefer the creature comforts of a dedicated litter box. In fact, if your cat doesn’t like to go to the loo in the woods, it’s generally best to bring a small litter box that can fit in the vestibule of your tent. 

Alternatively, if your cat is okay with going to the bathroom outside, don’t forget to pack plenty of trash bags for picking up their solid waste, just like you would for a dog.

Cat poop can actually contain a parasite called toxoplasma gondii, which can be dangerous to all mammals, including humans and woodland creatures. 

Don’t Forget A Water Bowl 

A full day of adventure is enough to make any cat thirsty, so be sure to pack a water bowl before you head outside. In particular, you’ll often find that small, collapsible water bowls are a good option for saving space in your pack. 

That being said, keep in mind that your cat should get the same fresh, treated water that we humans drink because the parasites and bacteria in stream water can make them sick, too. 

Bring A Kitty First Aid Kit

While most felines are more than capable of taking care of themselves on their adventures, you always want to be prepared for an emergency. Therefore, a small kitten first aid kit is a must for any cat camping trip. 

For the most part, cat first aid kits are actually quite similar to the first aid kit that you might pack for yourself. You’ll want to include plenty of gauze, tape, and other trauma supplies (as well as a small pet first aid book) just in case they get into an accident. 

Additionally, don’t forget to bring a copy of your cat’s vet paperwork and to write down the phone number of an emergency pet hospital near your camping site. If you’re in a real emergency, having this information at the ready can make a huge difference. 

It’s also worth printing out a recent photo of your cat to include in your first aid kit. Should your cat go missing, being able to show other hikers photos of your feline can help ensure that you’re reunited. 

Cat in a camping tent

Figure Out Your Shelter Options 

Having a warm, cozy place to sleep at night is just as important for your cat as it is for you. The good news is that most cats are more than happy to cuddle up in your tent with you at night.

In fact, cats tend to love tents and other enclosed spaces because they make them feel safe.

You’ve probably noticed that your cat likes to hide under beds or in other small areas when they’re scared, so it should come as no surprise that tents are a favorite resting area in the feline world. 

With that in mind, you’ll want to create space in your tent for your cat to sit back and relax. Consider bringing some blankets or even a small cat bed for them to snooze in at night. 

Also, if your cat does like to curl up in your sleeping bag with you, don’t forget to trim their claws before your trip to avoid punctures and holes in your gear while you camp. 

Use A Cat Carrier On The Drive To The Campsite & In Camp 

A cat carrier is the safest place for felines when you’re driving, so bringing a carrier on your camping trips is an absolute must.

Additionally, unless your cat is an experienced camper, you might also want to consider bringing your carrier to your campsite at night. 

Small, collapsible soft-sided carriers can be a great addition to any cat camping gear list, because they provide a safe place for your kitten to relax during the day. If your cat wants to take a nap, but you’re not sure that they’re ready to be on their own in the tent, placing them in their carrier is a good option. 

Moreover, it’s also nice to have a carrier on hand, just in case there’s an emergency and you have to carry your kitten back to the road. 

Avoid Dogs On The Trail 

Even if your cat enjoys being around dogs, not all dogs are comfortable around cats. This can be particularly challenging on popular hiking trails, as many dog owners let their pups run around off-leash. 

As you can imagine, dog-cat encounters can be dangerous for everyone involved, so it’s best to keep your cat at a safe distance from canines at all times.

This is one of the reasons why it’s best to keep your cat on a leash at all times (more on that soon), because you never know when a dog will come barrelling down the trail. 

Domestic cat on a leash while camping in Australia

Keep Your Feline On A Leash 

Cats are naturally curious creatures. As a result, they love investigating campsites and other novel places while you’re out on your adventures. 

Although a bit of supervised exploring is just fine for a cat, letting your kitten wander around the campground unattended isn’t a great idea. As we’ve mentioned, dog-cat encounters can turn sour very quickly, so they’re best avoided by keeping your cat on a leash. 

Keeping your cat on a leash also helps prevent them from wandering off or from eating plants that could be toxic.

However, do remember that your cat shouldn't be left on a leash that’s tied to a tree or some other stationary object because they can accidentally get tangled up and hurt themselves.

If you need to leave your kitten unattended for a few minutes while you set up camp, consider placing them in their carrier and keeping them fairly close by at all times. 

Cat by the campfire

Beware Of Campfires 

Fires can be captivating to a curious cat, but, as you can imagine, they can also be dangerous. If you do want to have a campfire during your trip, be sure to keep your cat nearby as you roast your s’mores. 

In general, keeping your cat on a leash or in their carrier while there’s an open fire nearby is often the better option. Cats usually know not to get close to fires, but it’s best to play things safe when you’re outside. 

Maintain A Schedule 

Most cats maintain some sort of daily routine in their home lives, particularly when it comes to mealtimes. Straying from these daily routines can be stressful for a cat, even if you’re outside, so try to keep your regular schedule while you’re camping. 

This means sticking to your normal feeding times and schedule, regardless of where your adventures take you. 

As your cat becomes more accustomed to camping, you may find that they’re less concerned about their schedule and that they’re more interested in exploring. But, try to follow a consistent routine as you introduce your feline to the great outdoors. 

Stay With Your Kitten At All Times 

Finally, remember that you should never leave your cat alone while you’re camping. It’s okay to leave a cat alone when you’re at home, but in a new environment like a campsite unattended cats will invariably get into trouble. 

Staying near your cat can also help relieve any anxiety they might have about being in a new place. So, while you’re camping, keep your cat close by at all times. If doing so won’t be possible during your trip, then your cat is probably better off staying at home during your adventure. 

Playful cat playing with his toys

Essential Cat Camping Supplies

When going camping with your cat, you’ll have to come prepared with the right supplies.

Here are some essential cat camping accessories to consider packing on your next adventure:

  • 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 

FAQs About Camping With Your Cat

Are Cat Backpacks Cruel? 

Cat backpacks aren’t inherently cruel, and many felines really enjoy being carried around in a cat bubble backpack.

However, keep in mind that every cat has a unique personality, so, while some cats love being in a backpack, others don’t want anything to do with them. 

So before you plan an epic camping trip with your cat backpack, do some test runs on walks around your home to see if a backpack is right for your feline. If not, perhaps consider other ways to camp with your kitty, such as with a cat harness. 

Are Cat Tents For Camping Any Good?

Contrary to popular belief, most cat tents aren’t designed for camping. Rather, they’re meant for use around your home as a sort of play area to help keep your cat entertained. 

Most cats actually enjoy sleeping in a tent with their humans because tents are sheltered, protected areas which make them feel safe. So, there’s generally no reason to bring a separate cat tent while you camp. 

Where Do You Put The Cat Litter Box In An RV?

Depending on the configuration of your RV, you have quite a few different options for storing your litter box.

One of the best places to store a litter box in an RV is inside a cabinet or storage compartment. Doing so keeps the litter box safe and secure so you can avoid messes and accidents on the road. 

You can cut a small cat access hole in the door of your cabinet or storage compartment so your feline can go in and out of the litter box as needed.

Then, when it comes time to clean the litter box, you simply have to open up the cabinet or storage compartment, scoop the poop, and then close the door back up. It’s as simple as that. 

Fantastic Feline Adventures Await!

Camping with cats can be challenging. Therefore, being prepared is essential for the health and safety of your cat. So, be sure to take all of our tips into consideration before heading out on an adventure with your cat. 

Have you ever camped with your cat?

Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. Also, if you have any tips you like to add, please share them! 

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Gaby - Writer for The Camper Lifestyle


Gaby is a professional outdoor educator, guide, and wilderness medicine instructor. She holds a master's degree in outdoor education and spends most of her time hanging out with penguins and polar bears in the polar region. When she's not outdoors, you can find her traveling, reading Nietzsche, and drinking copious double espressos.