Tips for Boating With Cats.

7 Tips for Boating With Cats

Written by Diane Byrne
September 18, 2023

Last Updated on September 18, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

Cats may have nine lives, but still, you don’t tempt fate. Follow these guidelines to ensure your furball has a fine time on deck.

When it comes to ensuring we can enjoy boating with our furry friends, the lion’s share of tips and tricks are for dogs. Hundreds, if not thousands, of articles, lend helpful advice for cruising with Man’s Best Friend.

When it comes to cats, though, it seems there isn’t much out there. Hold your cats! That doesn’t mean you can’t go cruising with your cat. In fact, we’ve rounded seven of the best tips for boating with cats for a stress-free experience for humans and felines alike:

  1. Invest in a life vest
  2. Gradually get comfortable
  3. Rein ‘em in (using a tether)
  4. Bring a cat bed aboard
  5. Prepare for seasickness
  6. Look out for the litter box
  7. Rig a rope and/or netting

Make sure to read all the way through to catch all Pro Tips.

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1. Invest in a life vest

Cat in life vest.

Yes, feline life jackets exist. Online retailers offer options if you can’t find one in a store. They should be fitted without restricting movement.

Pro tip: Look for a cat life vest with a strap or handle on the back for facilitation in managing your pet onboard. Especially, if your cat happens to fall overboard.

Also, whatever you do, do not toss your cat overboard without the vest assuming he or she will swim by instinct. You’d never push a child into the water, so don’t traumatize your cat.

2. Introduce your cat to your boat slowly

Cat on speedboat.

Think about this: Your boat is a new environment for your cat. It may need time to adjust. A good first step is simply letting him or her wander onboard awhile (with the life jacket on, of course).

If your boat has a cabin, let your cat explore the interior, too! Next, slowly get underway to see how your cat reacts to the motion. If all goes well, pet-owner boat days are surely in the cards.

3. Rein ‘em in (using a tether)

Cat on boat with leash.

Many cat-loving boaters strongly recommend using a tether, whether underway, anchored, or at the dock. Cats are notorious for letting their curiosity get the best of them, which could mean trouble.

Pro tip: Along the same lines, keep hatches, ports, and other openings closed—including entrances to the engine compartment.

4. Bring a cat bed aboard

Cat on boat deck.

Just as non-slip and non-marking soles are important on boats, be mindful that claws and vinyl seating don’t go well together. Creating a dedicated, soft curling-up and sleeping space is wiser. Better yet, if you have an extra cat bed at home, consider taking that to the boat.

5. Prepare for seasickness

Cat looking out boat porthole.

Seasickness is often a part of boating so having a plan or seasickness kit handy will come in handy for you and your furry first mate. The good news is, that some felines adapt to the wind and waves pretty well. If yours doesn’t, give them a little extra TLC—all the more reason for a dedicated space to call their own.

6. Look out for the litter box

Cat on sailboat.

No one wants a literal poop deck. It’s imperative not only to have a little box on board but also to secure it. Place a non-slip pad beneath it, in a spot where it won’t trip you or your guests either. The same advice, by the way, applies to your cat’s food and water bowls.

Pro tip: To find the perfect boat for you and your cat, scroll down to the Things to Know section of the boat listing to see if pets are allowed aboard.

7. Rig a rope and/or netting

Cat sleeping on nets.

Boating with cats can be akin to boating with babies. If they can accidentally slip through the space between rails and the deck, set up netting. A simple rope or rope ladder, meanwhile, secured to the side of the boat can help your cat climb back onboard if he or she does end up slipping overboard.

Need help planning your pet-owner boat trip? Read these posts:

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