Camping with Teddy is one of the things I’ve wanted to try for a while, as I thought it would be a perfect activity for him. He is rather lazy and enjoys hanging out and sniffing around, which he is free to do while camping! This was my first camping experience with him, and I will be sharing what I did, and if things didn’t work out, what I should have done. If you’re a beginner camper like me, this is the perfect post for you!
(This is not a guide, this is just my personal experience)
Overall, Teddy did really well and was very adaptable to the situation! He was happy to hang around and sniff bushes (which I expected), but he also settled down and went to sleep at night without too much fuss (which was what I was worried about). I think that camping is a doable activity for us and I hope to bring him on more camping trips in the future!
For the first time camping, pick somewhere close to home, and only go for one night. If anything goes wrong you won’t be too far from home. If something doesn’t work out, you’ll know for next time, and you’ll only suffer for one night!
After gathering all my gear, I set up the tent at home, along with my sleeping stuff, and put Teddy’s backpack in the tent. I was testing this for my benefit too, as I didn’t want to arrive to the campsite and not know how to set these things up. I saw that Teddy was afraid of the long tent poles when I was trying to set up, but once set up, he loved the tent, and would nap inside all day! But during the night, he would refuse to spend the night trapped inside. I think he has his preferred sleeping spots at home, and didn’t want to sleep in there.
I didn’t do anything else, training or desensitization-wise, as camping is mostly hanging around the same spot, and cats are great at that. As long as they are good on harness and leash, I think they will enjoy it.
If your cat does not like the tent, you should work on that before heading out. Try throwing treats in there, and putting their favourite bed in there.
Most of these items are things I already use for other cat exploring activities, so you don’t have to spend much to camp with your cat! The only thing I purchased for this trip was the paracords.
- Harness with Pet Light and ID tag
- Collar with Tile and ID tag
- Regular leash (6ft)
- Treat bag and Poop Bags
- Churu treats
- Short paracord (15ft / 4.5m)
- Long paracord (50ft / 15m)
- Small Carabiners
- Foldable litter box, bag of litter
- Cat backpack
- Food – kibbles and freeze dried food
- Food dishes
- Sponge, dishwashing detergent
- Fleece, cooling vest, bandana (Optional)
- Tiny tent for cats (Optional)
When I arrived, the first thing I did was set up the leash system. This gave him the freedom to explore while we set up the rest of the camping stuff. I used the long paracord (50ft) to tie from one tree to another (end to end of our campsite). Then I used the short paracord (15ft) with a carabiner clipped to the long line, like a zip line.
This system gave Teddy a lot of freedom to wander around the campsite, without me having to follow him around. I could easily keep an eye on him as I can see where the paracord is leading to. He was able to reach the entire gravel campsite area, as well as some of the bushes around.
What didn’t work
- The long paracord running through the campsite is a hazard for the humans. It was about eye height so we had to remember to duck under it every time.
- Teddy was still getting tangled as he walked around tables and tents. He would also get stuck around branches. So I had to get up and free him every so often.
- Teddy is not one to try and escape the harness, but if the leash was pulling him forwards, he would instinctively walks backwards, and that’s how he would back out of the harness. I did see this almost happen a few times.
- The long paracord needs to be tied much higher with less slack. There are probably some better knots we could have used for tightening it.
- Instead of the 15ft paracord, I will try the Flexi Leash next time. It also has a 15ft maximum length but might reduce getting tangled since it keeps the leash short.
Even if they are leashed, never leave them unattended. They could get stuck on something or back out of the harness.
Teddy is fully used to doing his business outside and I was not too worried about it. I did decide to bring a foldable litter box and a small bag of litter just in case. On that day, he did a pee around 3pm and didn’t pee or poo since then, until the time we were going to sleep (around 10PM). So I decided to set up the litter box inside the tent overnight, because I knew he would need it at some point. And I was right! He ended up peeing in it around 1AM. If he had done his pee and poo before sleeping, I would not have set up the litter box inside the tent.
Does cat litter attract animals?
I don’t know the answer to this. I think that predators would smell him regardless of if there is litter in the tent. Clean litter should be totally fine as there is no cat smell. If anyone has a better answer, let me know! I was a little worried about this too.
The next morning Teddy decided to poo in the soft soil on the edges of the campsite. I noticed that the main gravel sections are too hard for him to dig, so he would only go in the soft soil. I will make sure he can reach these areas next time.
Leaving Them Alone
I would never leave him unattended for long periods of time in the campsite. Its too easy for him to get stuck or escape the harness. If I had to leave him, I would put him inside the tent, and secure it. For example, I had to use the washroom in the middle of the night, and I didn’t want to deal with bringing Teddy. So I put his harness on, and tied his leash to something heavy inside the tent (his backpack), and zipped up the tent after I stepped outside. I also hooked the two zips together with a carabiner so he couldn’t open it. I rushed to the washrooms and back, but I heard him meowing when I got back. He doesn’t like being trapped in the tent alone.
If your tent is double zipped like mine, move them to a high point so your cat can’t reach. Also, you can use a small carabiner to hook them together to stop the zip from opening.
During the day, I took Teddy with me to the washrooms, because I didn’t want to leave him unattended. If he is inside the backpack, I would zip him up and leave him on the sink countertop. If he’s leashed but doesn’t want to be in the backpack, I would tie him to a bench right outside the washrooms. Honestly going to the washroom was the most challenging part logistically, because I can’t bring the backpack inside the washroom stall.
If you are doing activities during the day, make sure they are cat-friendly and you can bring your cat with you!
Teddy normally eats frozen Primal nuggets at home, but I also fed him the freeze dried version once in a while (usually when I forget to defrost the nuggets). For this trip, I brought the freeze dried nuggets, which does not require any refrigeration. All I had to do is crush it up in my fingers (and wash my hands after, as it is raw), and add some water. Teddy ate it with no issues.
As this is raw food (and with any other food), you have to wash the dishes after. I took the dish to the toilet area where there is running water, and used a little bit of dish soap and a sponge to clean it. Don’t clean this at your campsite, as the raw meat smell will attract predators, and also the dishwashing detergent I am using is not eco-friendly.
Sleeping At Night
I decided to take Teddy’s harness and collar off for the night. I think it is more comfortably for him, and the tags made jangling sounds whenever he moved. I made sure to secure the tent zips with a carabiner so he couldn’t get out.
I set up the tent with my sleeping stuff on one side, and his backpack and litter box on the other side. I thought he would sleep inside his backpack like he does at home, but he decided to settle down on my ankles. It was a little chilly at night so I covered him with a blanket, but he moved around and it fell off. If he was cold I would have felt him shivering as he was on my legs, so I’m sure he was fine. If I’m honest, the sleeping on my ankles was incredibly uncomfortable for me. But as long as Teddy is happy!
I was a little worried that Teddy wouldn’t settle down inside the tent, as there are so many exciting things outside. When I put teddy in the tent, he initially wanted to go back out. Because of the tent fly, he could not see outside the tent at all, and it must have been boring for him. He was pawing at the tent door, at the mesh, and trying to get head butt his way out of the tent. I discouraged this by moving him away, and luckily, after about 5 minutes, he gave up. There were many sounds throughout the night, like the wind rusting the leaves, and the leaves falling on the tent. Teddy slept through it all. The only times he got up and wanted to leave the tent was when I moved around and woke him up. He probably thought it was time to go.
What did you do to make sure Teddy would be tired enough to sleep through the night?
I didn’t do anything in particular. He didn’t have much exercise that day, but he did spend a few hours investigating the area. Teddy is a lazy cat who sleeps 18+ hours a day on a normal day, and is fine sleeping through the night at home. I can imagine this being a problem for more active cats who don’t sleep through the night.
How to keep Teddy from clawing / scratching your tent or mattress?
Teddy did try to paw at the tent door, but it is for attention and not to try and scratch his way out. The tent material is quite durable and smooth so his claws didn’t get caught in anything. The mesh parts I am a little worried about, but since he is only in the tent when I am there too, I can just stop him when he tries to scratch it.
My inflatable mattress was no issue at all. Teddy has no interest in scratching the smooth material that the sleeping pad is made of, and my sleeping bag was on top of it so he couldn’t reach it anyway.
I also cut his nails short the day before.
How did you make sure that he didn’t run away? Was he on leash all the time?
Yes, he is on leash at all times, in the long leash set up. I also kept an eye on him to make sure he wasn’t tangled, knocking anything over, or backing out of the harness.
Inside the tent, I take his harness off, and I hook the zippers together so he can’t open the tent doors.
He also has a Tile on his collar, which I can use my phone to ping. It’s not a tracker but the app shows when they are in range, and will make a sound so you can find them.
Thank you for reading all the way down here! I know it was a long one.
If you have any other questions let me know! Or if you have any suggestions to my setup, also let me know!
2 thoughts on “First Time Camping With a Cat”
Re: Litter attracting animals.
Yes. It does. Even clean litter. If you’re camping in bear country or backcountry, it’s best NOT to keep litter in the tent.
In parks where we can drive in and we have to follow Bare Campground rules, I will only have the litter in the tent when we are in the campsite. Otherwise it will stay locked in the vehicle or food locker with our food.
For backcountry camping, the portable litter bin and a small amount of litter will stay in a bag the food locker. Again, it only comes out and is set up when we are active in the campsite. It goes away again at night in the backcountry.
I scoop and bag and dispose of poop and used litter as soon as he uses it. Burying it is rarely sufficient.