Boating With Your Pets 101

Tips for Boating with Your Cat

You've probably noticed on trips to the vet that cats don't enjoy being in motion they can't control. Cars are loud, they move unpredictably -- to a cat, anyway -- and they upset a feline's finely tuned sense of balance. The poor cat may spend the entire journey loudly announcing its displeasure.

Now, imagine that cat on a boat as it rises, falls and rocks with the shifting water. The cat may be even less comfortable, and you have no way of pulling over and reassuring it. That doesn't mean you can't go boating with your cat. Many people do, and many cats come to love the water. But you must commit yourself to helping your cat get used to the boat.

What do you need for a seafaring cat?

  • Your cat needs a litterbox so that it can relieve itself comfortably.
  • Your kitty will also need food and water -- it can't survive otherwise.
  • A scratching post is crucial, unless you like the thought of your ropes or boat furniture being clawed to ribbons. Remember that cats want resistance in scratching posts: It must be firmly attached to some part of the boat, or your cat won't use it [source: Drummond].
  • You'll also need a restraining device for your cat, such as a harness or a carrier. This is as much for the cat's safety in port as on the water. Cats may make a run for freedom as soon as they see solid ground. A port can be a dangerous place for a cat: Make sure the cat is safely restrained before you reach land [source: Drummond].
  • It's important that you devise a way for your cat to get back on the boat if it falls or jumps overboard. If your cat is strong and its front claws are intact, fishnet or a strip of carpet or burlap may be enough [sources: Dickinson, Drummond]. Hang this "ladder" over the side of the boat.
  • You must have up-to-date paperwork for your cat. If you're sailing between countries -- or even between states -- you need to have your cat's vaccination records on hand. Different states have different requirements for feline rabies vaccinations. Look up the laws before you go, and make sure you're compliant. Animals without vaccination records can be quarantined [source: Centers for Disease Control].

Now, how do you keep your kitty safe? Read on.