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Can You Go Camping With Cats?

When we think about camping with our pets, dogs typically come to mind. However, many people nowadays are camping with cats! Contrary to popular belief, some cats love to travel and explore with their humans. Let’s dive deeper into camping with cats – check out these 9 helpful tips!

Camping With Cats: Can It Be Done? 

In short – yes. Camping with cats is very doable, but it does require preparation, time, and patience on your behalf. Camping with cats is a fulfilling experience for both you and your pets. Not to mention, it can bring a great level of enrichment to their lives, especially if they are indoor-only.

cat on camping chair

However, not every cat will become a camping cat, and that is okay. Don’t push your cat further than they want to go, and know when it’s time to stop trying! 

RVing With Cats vs. Tent Camping With Cats

RVing with cats is much easier to do and prepare for than tent camping. Once your cat starts to associate the RV with “home,” camping trips will be a breeze!

In an RV, your cat will recognize similar features to a house, such as kitchen counters, couches, and beds. Plus, the hard exterior of an RV shields your cat from the elements as well as noises that might alarm them.

Tent camping is entirely different, though. In a tent, your cat will be more exposed to temperature changes and noises. They also won’t have as much space to roam, nor will they have the creature comforts of a house. However, it’s not impossible to tent camp with your cat. It just takes a little extra preparation. 

Pro Tip: If you plan on bringing your cat along on your RV camping trip, we solved the dilemma of where to put your cat litter box.

cat looking out of camping tent

Camping Is Not For Every Cat 

Camping is most definitely not for every cat. No matter how much you try and persuade or train them, some cats will never get used to camping or being on a leash. Just like people, cats have individual personalities. 

If your cat doesn’t seem to be getting used to the idea of being on a leash or in the vehicle, please do not force them. Stress can make your pet very sick! Or worse, they could get loose, and you may lose them. 

Check out our article on how to prevent losing your pet and how to find them if you do.

Preparing a cat for travel or camping can take a considerable amount of time…months, even. You know your pet better than anyone, but don’t force them into anything they’re not prepared for. 

kitty sleeping on lawn chair

Tips for Safely Camping With Cats

Safely camping with cats is possible, but it requires ample amounts of both patience and time. Here are 9 tips to consider:

1. Determine If Your Cat Is a Camping Cat

Camping or traveling is not for every cat. By attempting leash training and short stints outside and in a vehicle, you will find out pretty quickly if they are up for it. 

For in-depth tips on leash training, camping, and hiking with your cat, check out the website Adventure Cats.

2. Prepare Them Ahead of Time

The key to having a successful and safe trip with your cat is to fully prepare them ahead of time. It’s tempting to pack up and head out without a second thought. But this can be stressful and even dangerous for your cat.

Help them acclimate to the vehicle or tent. And make sure they’re ok being on a leash, as leashes are required at campgrounds. This can mean doing practice runs in the backyard or driveway until you know they’re ready. 

cat walking on leash outdoors

3. Never Leave Your Cat Outside Unattended

A cat isn’t like a dog in the sense that you can put them on a leash at your campsite and expect them to be okay. In fact, you should never leave your cat unattended in a tent or on a leash. 

They can tangle their leash or even wriggle out of it. Even the most “escape-proof” cat harnesses are escapable. And cats are notorious for getting unstuck.

4. Pack the Right Items

Of course, you’ll want to make sure you have everything they need. Their normal food, water, a litterbox, and a carrier for them to have a “safe space” to escape to are essential. You’ll also need their leash, harness, and even their favorite toys. You want this to be a pleasant experience for your kitty!

5. Maintain Usual Schedules

Cats are creatures of routine. You’ve probably already noticed that! So, do your best to keep to your normal routine while camping, too. Stick to regular feeding and sleeping schedules to make the experience as stress-free for your cat as possible. 

person comforting cats as they eat

6. Avoid Crowded Areas

This should go without saying, but you should avoid crowded areas for camping with cats, especially if they’re totally new to it! 

Many people can mean lots of energy, and it can spook your cat into hiding or running off. You don’t want anything to potentially traumatize your cat or make them associate camping with being scared. 

7. Provide a Safe Space for Your Cat to Escape To

Cats don’t like feeling vulnerable. Make sure your cat has a safe place to escape to that is dark and out-of-the-way. For many cats, this can be their carrier. But if your cat has negative associations with their carrier, try setting up a little kitty fort out of pillows. Just make sure they have a safe hidey-hole if they get scared. 

tabby cat laying in pet carrier

8. Start With Short Trips at First

Short trips are essential to know if your cat will take to camping well. Also, it helps prepare them for the entire experience! These mini test adventures can be something closer to home or even just in the backyard. 

9. Be Prepared for Encounters With Dogs or Wildlife

Nobody wants to think about it, but everyone needs to be prepared for encountering a dog or other wildlife that could be a threat to your feline friend. Never leave your cat unattended at your campsite, and don’t take them leashed down busy trails. Additionally, you should consider how your cat generally reacts to other animals and prepare for chance encounters. 

woman with cat in camper door

Enrich Your Cat’s Life With Camping!

Camping with cats can be a fun and fulfilling experience that will enrich your cat’s life, and surely yours as well. It’s fun to share experiences with your cats that most people think only dogs are cut out for. Your cat may not be able to speak, but if they could, they would surely say thank you! 

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Sunday 22nd of October 2023

Hi Mortons! Loved your article Camping with Cats! We had exceptional good results by doing just two things: starting them on halter & leash months before our trip (indoors and out), and making sure copies of rabies certificates were easy to find in the glove box. One loves camping and the other tolerates it, but camping wouldn't be the same without our fur babies. Happy trails! Kimmie and Edward D.

Kimberly Diable

Sunday 29th of August 2021

Thank you so much for your articles on RV travel with cats! We didn't have any info the first time and are so blessed everything worked out as well as it did PTL! We'd seen videos on leash training and so got to practice a little before three month RV trip. Also they're happy to keep the same schedule for feeding. But never realized there are dedicated first aid kits and what a great idea having tags with our phone #! Love all your emails though, but just had to send a shout out on this one as cat owners seems to be a distinct minority, but we've had such positive contacts with dog owners. They have all been welcoming & we really appreciate their kindness.

Mortons on the Move

Monday 30th of August 2021

You're welcome! So glad to hear you enjoyed this article and that you've had good experiences RVing with your cat. Happy Travels! :)


Saturday 7th of August 2021

So it's ok to leave the cat in the camper? But your not supposed to leave a dog in the camper? What's the difference. I've left my dogs many times It's their home. If the power goes out. Well the power can go out in a house too.

Jay Krumm

Sunday 7th of February 2021

We camp regularly at Lakewood resort campground in Myrtle Beach. There is an on going problem with feral cats. The cats kill the local wild life. Some campers must leave them here for us to enjoy but they end up getting trapped and taken away. Campers should remember that not all of us are in love with their pets. I would much rather watch the South Carolina birds and squirrels instead of cats trying to kill them.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 7th of February 2021

This is very true, We have heard that Feral cats are a problem nationwide when it comes to songbirds.

Jerry T Daminato

Saturday 6th of February 2021

Our cat travels in the truck with us.

We let her wander around loose. When we had her enclosed in a carrier, she was not happy. She likes the trailer and in both our previous and current trailer we installed a cat door into the pass through front storage where the litter box is. I can clean it from outside each day.

Having this set up has allowed Misty to be with us on all our trips (sometimes 6+ months long) and we do not need to board her or have a cat sitter etc.