A Guide to Sailing with Your Cat

Squinting beach cat lying near rusty mooring bollard and fishing boat stern Torrevieja port Costa Blanca

When your cat loves being by your side, you want to take your beloved pet with you everywhere you go. Taking your cat out on the open water might seem risky, but with careful preparation, your kitty can even accompany you on your summertime adventures. Use this guide to sailing with your cat to ensure a safe trip.

Don’t Leave Home Without Your Cat’s Essentials

Whenever you travel or move with cats, you should never leave home without your cat’s essentials. As you pack for your afternoon on the boat, bring along a litter box, fresh litter, a water dish, and plenty of food. Once you unpack on the boat, make sure your cat knows where all of its supplies are to help it get comfortable.

Test Your Cat’s Tolerance for the Water

While many cats have a natural aversion to water, other cat breeds love water and won’t hesitate to jump in and go for a swim. Before you head out on the boat, make sure you know how well your cat tolerates water so you’ll know whether to expect any escape attempts. Try introducing your kitty to water via a shallow kiddie pool or a bathtub, and stay nearby to help your cat get out of the water safely.

Get a Cat-Sized Life Vest

Don’t go out on the water without suiting your cat up in a life vest, as this is an essential safety device for your kitty. You might not find many options designed specifically for cats, but vests made for small dog breeds will fit most cats. Leave plenty of time to get your cat used to the life vest before your first afternoon out on the boat. You may need to let your pet play with the life vest and try it on a few times before it’s ready to wear the vest for an extended period.

Know How to Alleviate Nausea

Like humans, cats can become seasick and succumb to nausea. You might not be able to assess your cat’s tendency to get seasick before heading out on the open water, but you can take steps to alleviate the symptoms if they arise. Bring some catnip along for the boat ride, as this herb is a great cure-all for cats. You can ask your vet for a prescription medication as well, which may help alleviate both anxiety and nausea.

Keep Your Cat Nearby

No matter what type of boat you have, you might be surprised to find out just how many hiding places your cat discovers. If your sailboat has more than one deck or a couple of enclosed areas, your cat could easily slip out of sight. To ensure that your cat is always safe on the water, make sure you know where it is at all times. Double check before closing doors and cupboards, and keep your kitty nearby whenever possible.

Why leave your kitty at home when it could join you for a sunny afternoon on the water? By following this guide, you’ll ensure that your cat can enjoy a fun outing while staying safe!

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  1. 50 years ago I had a re-homed Lilac-Point Siamese who had been left behind when her family emigrated. She’d been a “shop counter cat” and customer greeter so was entirely at ease with strangers and would talk to anybody. She was also completely happy travelling in a car. She used to divide her journeys into sleeping on the front passenger’s lap and standing between the seat cushion with forepaws on the instrument panel commenting on the passing scenery. No cat-carriers 50years ago!
    So we took her on a sailing holiday to Salcombe in south Devon, England with our 14 foot dayboat. The Salcombe estuary has many wooded areas inaccessible except by boat so it was possible to take her walking with very little risk of encountering anyone with a dog. She loved jumping down to the beaches from the boat and walking in the woods, where she would run ahead, calling back to us to hurry up or pausing to climb a tree. This activity would last about 10 minutes then she would slow down and wail to be carried. After a suitable rest the cycle would be repeated. All went well until one day we took her back to the boat before she was ready to go home. She stood on the side-bench, forepaws on the gunwale looking back at her beloved woods then without warning sprang overboard and struck out for the shore! No small animal buoyancy jackets back then but she seemed fine – swimming strongly – we were the ones upset! Luckily there was no wind so we were using the outboard motor and I was able to quickly come alongside her and scoop her back on board! She didn’t seem at all bothered by the experience which made me wish I’d left her a bit longer and taken some photos before rescuing her! After that, no more sailing and the rest of her outings were long walks on Dartmoor. Suki is long gone now, but a cat who will live forever in my memory.

Written by JessiCAT

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