It's the weekend – "Caturday," to be precise – and we're looking to Instagram's #boatcats for boating tips to keep every crew member purrfectly happy.
When you dream of daytrips, extended cruises, and weekend getaways, can your feline BFFs fit in? Look to these happy boatcats for inspiration, as well as tips on helping yours get acclimated to life aboard.
Some boatcat tips from Peanut's folks:
Introduce the boat slowly. Take them to the boat at the dock on a calm day for a couple hours, then overnight at the dock. Then a short motor to an anchorage on a calm day, then a sail on a calm day. Oh, and Peanut just reminded me: always provide lots of treats!
Miss Rigby's owners shared a podcast episode they recorded entirely dedicated to catboat life, including boatcat safety aboard, training a cat on the dinghy, cat quarantine procedures, using a cat lifejacket, sun exposure protection for cats, and more – tune in here.
Some boatcat tips from Kapitein Draak's owner:
Bring your cat aboard as young as possible. Take her/him everywhere. Make sure that your cat knows how to swim and that he has a way to get back on board, because they will fall in. We taught our cat to not go off the boat when we're staying in a harbor, and we never let our cat run around in the dark without keeping one eye on her.
Be sure to buy a small litter box, and clean it often. And make space for your cat so that even when inside, they can always see out.
Fisher the Maine Coon loves the water. His dad is a fourth generation Florida boat captain, so Fisher was introduced to water as a kitten – first with a kiddie pool, then real pool, then the Gulf of Mexico. Fisher loves paddle-boarding, tubing, fishing, boating with his family, and always wears his life jacket.
Fathom lives aboard a Passport 42 with her parents, Sonya & Jack, who are currently living aboard in San Francisco Bay before setting off to sail the world within the next year or so. They'll be sharing their adventures and challenges via Youtube and Instagram. Some backstory and tips for bringing cats on board from Fathom's owners:
We adopted Fathom when she was two months old, and she came to live aboard our Passport 42 sailboat from day one. We were nervous as to how she would adapt to life on the water, but quickly realized that she would adapt easily to anything since she was still quite young. In the beginning – the first month or so – we only allowed her to roam down below. Anytime we left the cabin, we put her tiny kitty harness on (we wanted her to get used to the harness) and took her with us in her carrier bag. We knew that we didn’t want her to be scared of the outside world and we wanted her to be a true adventure cat, so we took her everywhere we went for the first couple of months.
Only a couple weeks after she joined our crew, we set off on a sailing trip from our marina in San Francisco Bay up the Sacramento Delta, motoring for about 12 hours straight. We were nervous that the loud noises and movement of the boat would frighten her, but it was quite the opposite. The second we started moving, the purring of the engine put her right to sleep! On that trip we finally let her roam out on deck, getting to know the outside of the boat a little more. We felt this was the perfect transition, as we were anchored our so she couldn’t try to roam onto the dock. Fathom has a very curious personality, she loves to explore and she is not startled by many loud noises. Furthermore, she doesn’t even seem to mind the water, as a kitten she started hopping in while we showered to watch the water roll down the walls, and we have gotten her used to dinghy rides and SUP board adventures. While riding on our SUP board, she often lets her tail drag in the water, without a care in the world!
She has gone swimming 4 times since she began her life afloat back in June, both intentional swimming lessons as well as accidental swims. Any time she gets wet with salt water, we just give her a warm freshwater rinse, to make sure she doesn’t lick all that salty water and ingest it. For safety, we have set up a braided rope ladder that hangs off the stern and have been practicing with her, teaching her to climb up if she falls in. When we are underway, we clip her harness onto a leash that lets her move freely throughout the cabin down below, and up to the cockpit, but no further out onto the deck.
About 4 months after we adopted Fathom, we sailed the longest passage yet with her onboard: San Francisco to the Channel Islands. This was a 2.5 day nonstop passage in the rolling offshore swell. Fathom did surprisingly well, although the first night offshore she did get a little kitty boat-sick, emptying her dinner onto the carpet below our salon table. Once she got that out of her system, she slept a little more than usual but was totally fine for the remainder of the trip!
One of the most frequent questions we get is: how do you deal with kitty litter onboard? The answer is, we have her box in the shower stall onboard, so it can’t really slide around and it is easy to clean without making a mess. Currently, we use the Breeze pellet system which has worked well, but we are still working to find a more sustainable and eco-friendly option. When we set off cruising we don’t want to have a lot of trash to haul around, so we will continue to refine the setup so it is as biodegradable as possible.
Overall, we are thrilled to have added a furry friend to our crew. She is very low maintenance and we don’t feel bad leaving her at home during work hours, as she finds plenty of nooks in the cabin for all her napping desires. She brings tremendous joy and is an excellent boost for crew morale! She is very spunky, adventurous and loves to talk to us, which is great entertainment on long passages as well!
If you're the proud owner of a happy boatcat and have tips or stories to share, let us know! Email email@example.com.