Felix Adventure Pack: The 41-Item Checklist for Camping with Cats 

For health purposes, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) strongly promotes keeping your pet cat indoors. While there are merits to permanently confining our fur babies, this deprivation of freedom may not sit well for us. The relatively high prevalence of escape artists among America’s pet cats simply reinforces that emphatic afterthought. 

Some cat owners have an ingenious way of rewarding their feline companions for putting up with their ‘despotic incarceration’ policy. They take them on a supervised outdoor adventure, and all these 9 celebrity adventure cats on Instagram will show you that it’s a brilliant idea.

Your feline companion can experience living the “fabulous free-spirited” lives of the Bengal Sukii, the brothers Bolt and Keel and one-eyed surfer Kuli. But first, take note of this 41-item checklist, if you’re taking your cat for a camping trip. 

Camping with cat checklist

PRECAUTIONS

Aside from all the stuff you need to pack up for an enjoyable (by that, it means ‘non-disastrous’) duration of the camping trip, there are also pre-departure needs you need to accomplish. Fulfilling this initial part of the comprehensive checklist can prevent unnecessary complications when you and your cat have already made it in the uncharted territory – miles away from home.    

Security

Your item checklist:

  • ID tags with GPS locator
  • Recent photos of your cat

According to a research published in 2012, all pet owners are faced with a 15% chance of losing their pets from their very own homes. These unfortunate homeowners merely have up to 75% chance of recovering their cats even after using every known search method. The numbers may seem optimistic, but one has to remember that these largely reflect incidences of cats lost in their own homes. Imagine a much higher possibility of getting separated from your fur baby in a more unfamiliar territory.

Apart from pet microchip, a better (additional) countermeasure to losing your cats is to get them ID tags with a GPS locator. These special ID collars can be synchronized to your personal gadgets. In addition to real-time data coordinates, recent photos of your cat can also aid in your search by showing it to fellow hikers around the vicinity.

Physical Fitness

Your item checklist:

  • Updated health records
  • Vaccination (health boosters)

Before considering bringing your cat to its first wilderness hiking or lake kayaking, ask yourself: Is my cat physically fit for such an adventure? You may think of yourself an excellent judge of your cat’s condition, but a certified vet knows better.

You may not need an updated health certificate where you’re going, but you at least require an expert opinion from your animal physician if your feline companion is cleared for such a journey. An appointment at a vet clinic for a physical examination only costs roughly $50. You need to have your cat screened of any injuries and infections at least 2 days before you start your journey.

Another important requirement than a clean bill of health is to prevent your cat from acquiring diseases in a completely foreign environment. Vaccination can upgrade your cat’s physiological capability to fight off harmful bacteria, just in case your four-legged bag of mischief drinks from the stream while you’re not looking (more of that in the Food and Essentials part). It costs roughly $10 to $50 per year to give your cat health boosters. But if it is its first time to get an immunization, the price range could exceed up to $100.

Psychological Profile

Your item checklist:

  • Cat behavioral test

One last thing to ask yourself before even considering the idea of going outdoors with your cat is: Does my cat event ‘want’ to go hiking or kayaking with me? As a creature that is never predisposed to obedience, cats naturally have their own preferences. It is worth knowing whether or not your cat has what it takes to make some adjustments.

The ASPC has identified up to 9 feline personalities, and each of them is classified under three colors – Green, Orange, and Purple. Your cat’s color spectrum is interpreted according to the total score of the two assessment scales. The Valiance Scale measures your cat’s bravado, especially when it comes to their response to new/unfamiliar stimuli. The Independent-Gregarious Scale measures the likelihood of your cat to display sociability and cheerfulness among people.

Your ideal ‘adventure cat’ has to be in the Green Spectrum, a feline companion that scores high in terms of boldness and sociability. Purple Spectrum cats are likely to feel too stressed to participate in outdoor adventures – making it a very unhealthy experience for them.

FOOD AND ESSENTIALS

The next phase of your camping plan involves preparing your overall inventory. Take note: the following items in the checklist pertain to all things that are directly useful and beneficial for your feline companion. This part of the article highlights all the things you keep with you AT ALL TIMES while temporarily living outdoors.

Health

Your item checklist:

  • Water
  • Cat food

As creatures of habit, cats are not predisposed to changing their routine. This includes their individual feeding schedule. Your cat will have its meal break and it could not care any less if both of you are still in the middle of the trail. Bringing food and water anywhere is not an option.

As for what specific cat food you’re going to prepare, acquiring the guidance of a veterinary nutritionist can really go a long way. They are very knowledgeable in terms of certain ingredients that are conducive to the demands of a different (and temporary) outdoor adventures lifestyle.

You can pretty much have a certain amount of latitude when it comes to what your cat eats. Hydration, however, has its couple of unbreakable rules. Bringing your own potable water is not enough. You need to vigilantly watch over your cat and prevent it from taking a sip from the local source (e.g. river, lake, pond, etc). Keep in mind that your cat has never been a part of the outdoor venue’s local ecosystem. Untreated water is just as dangerous as dehydration itself!

Call of Nature

Your item checklist:

  • Litter and scoop
  • Foldable litter box

If there is one aspect wherein dogs are more preferable to take in the backwoods than cats, it is in the need to accommodate their restroom break. Dogs can just pretty much urinate/defecate in the wilderness, and it is a commonplace occurrence in extensive trail hikes. Why can’t it be the same for cats? Again, it has something to do with the natural ecosystem.

The domestic cat’s fecal matter inherently contains a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This bacterial leech attacks the immune system of all mammals (including especially humans), causing influenza-like symptoms on top of headaches and muscular fatigue. This parasite is especially dangerous for pregnant women and can possibly imperil both the mother and the unborn child.

Your cat would need to have its own supply of toilet litter and foldable litter box in order to effectively ‘isolate and contain’ its body wastes from the environment. And just like at home, you need to regularly clean after their litter box.

Reward System

Your item checklist:

  • Cat treats
  • Catnip

No matter how high your feline companion scores in ASPCA’s behavioral test, it does not change the fact that every domestic cat is a creature of habit and routine. They hate the changes. In this particular regard, the Valiance and Independent-Gregarious scales simply tell you how long it takes for your cat to become stressed. Eventually, you will need to deal with their anxieties and tantrums.

All experienced cat owners know that their feline companions need to be bribed time and again just to put up with your own program. Cat treats are the basic fuel for maintaining the task of curbing their strong tendency to misbehave. Training your cat to stay put (especially on the deck of a canoe while river boating) always comes at a price of a very delicious morsel.

Due to the unfamiliarity of the backwoods, cats are likely to feel agitated even during downtimes (more of that in the Campsite Essentials part). This could likely manifest with the inability to sleep. Like people’s recreational drugs, catnip induces varying euphoric reactions. There’s nothing like a good catnip treatment for ‘untrained’ cats that starts to get violent with their fidgeting, especially after long hours of rowing or trek. Fortunately, catnip is neither harmful nor addictive – hence, safe for ‘liberal’ consumption.

CAMPSITE ESSENTIALS

Just like in conventional military campaigns or overseas rescue operations, the first thing you need to do when you arrive in the outdoor/foreign destination is to establish your campsite. It is your temporary home – the place you return to after your adventures. As a secure territory, your campsite will also be the one place where you can leave important items that are too cumbersome to bring around while on the move.

Downtime

Your item checklist:

  • Cat bedding/lounge
  • Laser pointer and toys

At the end of your tour in the wild, you and your feline companion deserve quality hours of respite. As creatures of habit, adult cats are also very territorial and their quality of life also hinges on ‘keeping all things the way they are.’ If your cat slumbers on its favorite surface object (bedding, lounge, pillow, box, etc) at home, you have to include that particular thing in your outdoor checklist. Otherwise, you would need to undergo an indefinite length of time for your cat to get accustomed to a new sleeping surface.

Cats may vary in terms of their level of energy. For those who have a surplus of oomph at the end of the day, you need to keep them distracted (more like drained). A laser pointer never fails to do the trick of entertaining your feline companion simply because it taps into its innate hunter instincts. As for toys, it also helps to include a scratch post – preferably a cheap but durable DIY type you can fashion ‘from scratch.’   

Hygiene

Your item checklist:

  • Soap and shampoo
  • Brush and towel
  • Bug repellants
  • Trash bags

Green Spectrum cats might make a fulfilling adventure buddy, but they can also be a tough piece of work. This is especially true when it comes to their cleanliness. The “Party Animal” type of cats tends to have that inner kitten in them and if they always fail to (literally) keep their paws clean at home, the same will be true outdoors.

Just like at home, your campsite must be a place where your cat can shower and receive grooming – especially if your trip lasts more than a week. But other than bathroom basics, your feline companion must also be protected from a broad spectrum of backwoods parasites (e.g. mites). Unlike your home, exposure to bugs exponentially increases considering that you have ‘flimsier walls’ for shelter. It is best to apply bug repellants before and after the whole day excursion.

It is also universally understood that hygiene goes both ways, between the inhabitant and the immediate environment. The same is true with cats in terms of waste disposal. Since it is initially established that leaving cat feces outdoors is a breach of ecosystem safety, you must have a separate trash bag for isolating and containing your feline companion’s body wastes. Note: NEVER pile used litter along with recyclable trash! Instead, layer it with leaves or brushes to create home-made compost.

TREKKING ESSENTIALS

You and your cat are pretty much ready to start your adventure after successfully setting up your camp. Or are you? Apart from food and essentials that you need to bring with you at all times, you must also take note of the things you need in your actual excursions. The right set of gear can bring you the best eco-adventure experience; whether it is hiking, climbing, kayaking, wildlife photography, or even exploring ancient relics.

Navigation

Your item checklist:

  • Cat carrier/stroller
  • Harness and leash
  • Head lights

If you’re the kind of cat owner who loves a good workout, you can transport your feline adventure buddy in a sling carrier or backpack. This is especially useful when you are climbing steep hills or jagged mountain trails. If you are expecting to traverse a gentler terrain, a wheeled stroller can reduce the effort given the other stuff you need to carry. It is important to understand that, in terms of long-distance treks, your cat can only cover a relatively short distance before it gets exhausted.

While some cats would prefer to be carried all throughout the journey on land, there are feline companions who don’t mind a decent limb exercise. The one stark similarity that dogs and cats share with regards to walking with humans is that both creatures require a hands-on guidance. Nonetheless, cats also need fairly stretched training period before it can successfully wear a harness for extended hours. Choosing the type of harness that has a step-in style and Velcro enclosures can somehow shorten the training period due to its superior design and comfort.

By the time you’re already on the move, it’s also logical to assume that you’ve literally got your hands full. This is especially true if you’re grabbing on branches or any higher foothold in order to maintain balance on rough terrain. If you find yourself still on the trail while it’s already getting dark, you and your feline companion are in real danger without lights. Strapping a torch around your head makes everything in your line of sight visible. Take note: NEVER let your cats walk at night!

Climate Control

Your item checklist:

  • Cat sweater
  • Life jacket
  • Sunscreen cream
  • Blankets

Whether you are marching through the trail or rowing your boat, you and your cat are pretty much under the complete mercy of the weather. The current daytime climate itself can provide an obvious hint on whether or not you are safe to embark on your planned adventures away from your campsite. Granted that you observe the signs, it is also important to consider that the weather itself is unpredictable. The environmental hazards of climate alone demands preparation.

Take note: healthy cats cannot withstand temperatures lower than 32OF. As warm-blooded creatures, cats also need to keep itself dry – for which blankets can provide an invaluable degree of comfort when venturing in wet and humid outdoor locations.

Dressing your cat in wool sweater under the unpredictable winter sky can keep your feline companion warm and functional in case of a sudden blizzard in the middle of a snowy mountain trek. For kayaking or fishing, a life jacket is the one thing that keeps your cat from drowning in case the boat capsizes. Applying sunscreen cream at least 30 minutes before the summer sun rises at its peak also applies in this general principle of preparedness.

Waste Disposal

Your item checklist:

  • Poop bags

As mentioned earlier, the physical needs of a cat cannot be postponed – whether it is a snack break or going to the restroom. In the particular case of a cat’s toilet protocol, always remember that its wastes cannot be disposed of outdoors. Since it is impractical to bring the huge trash bag with you, take smaller plastic poop bags to isolate and contain used litter scooped out from the litter box.

Curiously, healthy cats can hold their poop for one day (and their pee for half or quarter of the 24-hour period). How long you and your feline companion would be out of the campsite will pretty much determine whether or not you’d need that foldable litter box, litter, scoop and poop bag. But since weather can single-handedly affect the journey’s tempo in a matter of hours, you should never leave the campsite without them. 

COMPLETE FIRST AID INVENTORY

If you’ve never had the realistic need to anticipate injuries and sudden physical adverse effects in civilization, it is imperative to do so in the untamed wilderness. It only takes one injury for one trip to become your traumatic misadventure. Heaven forbid, when it happens, it is best to be trained enough to perform life-saving counter-measures under pressure. As part of the items you need to carry with you at all times, the Humane Society recommends the following operational stocks and tools as a part of your entire first aid kit:

Stocks

  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic lotion
  • Gauze rolls
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Q tips
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Self-cling bandage
  • Sterile saline solution

Having a well-supplied volume of medicinal mixtures and disposable items could mean life and death in emergency cases. In milder circumstances, ample first aid treatment may even allow your cat to go an extra mile in the journey before turning around for the campsite.

It is important to assess your stocks after multiple trips. You must have at least two to three week’s worth of stock for every week-long trip. While you can only stuff one rubbing alcohol in your satchel, always remember to keep the container closed to avoid spillage or fractional dissipation. The same principle particularly applies to a sterile saline solution.

Tools

  • Blunt-end scissors
  • Ice pack
  • Muzzle
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Pillowcase
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Tweezers

Most of the things listed in this part are utilized for obvious specific purposes. A muzzle cup, for instance, is designed to obstruct the cat from licking its wounds (hence, prevent infection). Ice packs are applied to drop the body temperature after an intense heat stroke. A pillowcase, however, is being included in Humane Society’s list to perform a task not easily made apparent to all individuals at first look.

Expert rescuers have used a pillowcase as an effective makeshift body bag for evacuating cats trapped in extremely dangerous situations. In case of a truly traumatizing forest fire, rescuing a cat using a pillowcase performs two important functions. The semi-airtight fabric filters the deadly suffocating smoke. Used as a sack, the pillowcase also restrains the cat’s extremely violent panic-stricken reaction to being roughly manhandled – which is, to claw and bite anyone in their midst.

The success of the pillowcase as an evacuation tool for cats (and other dangerous small creatures) have been instrumental in designing the commercial product called the EvacSack. Helping pet owners and rescuers evacuating cats since 1993, this specialized sack has helped reduce the number of feline casualties during the Hurrican Katrina in 2005. Compared to a less durable pillowcase, EvacSack costs around $65 each.

Leave a Reply