What To Pack: 14 Essentials For Hiking And Camping With A Cat
When preparing for a hike, camping trip, or any outdoor adventure, it's crucial to be ready for a range of circumstances, including serious injuries and unfavorable weather conditions. This level of preparedness becomes even more important when venturing outdoors with your adventure cat.
As someone living in a cat's world, you're probably well-versed in attending to your feline's every need. Therefore, before stepping outside with your cat, ensure you have all the required supplies for both of you.
Please note that the 14 items listed below are just a starting point. No one knows your cat better than you do, so bring along any additional items your cat may need, especially medications.
1. Hydration: Remember to pack enough potable water for both you and your adventure cat. Dehydration can occur easily during physical exertion, particularly in warm weather. Even if your cat consumes wet food, they will still require frequent hydration.
2. Nutrition: Both you and your cat will burn a significant number of calories during a hike, so it's important to replenish your energy. Bring lightweight, nutritious snacks for yourself, such as trail mix and dried fruit, and pack more food than your cat typically consumes since they will be exerting themselves and burning more calories than usual.
3. Navigation: Bring essential navigation tools, such as a map and compass. Although a GPS is useful, a compass is lighter and doesn't rely on batteries. If you're unfamiliar with how to read a map and compass, there are informative videos available for guidance.
4. First-aid kit: Even on a short nature hike, it's wise to have a first-aid kit that can address both human and feline injuries. For humans, the kit should include bandages, tape, antiseptic, and painkillers at a minimum. REI has a checklist for outdoor first-aid kits, and the Humane Society provides a pet first-aid kit list specifically for your cat. Additionally, make sure your cat is up to date on flea, tick, and heartworm treatments, and consider bringing tweezers or a tick key.
5. Sun protection: Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays, especially if hiking in snowy conditions. Light-colored fur cats may also require sun protection.
6. Fire: Even if you don't plan on camping, bring matches in a waterproof case or waterproof ones. It's also good to have a chemical firestarter, dry tinder, or dryer lint. It's important to learn how to build a campfire safely if needed.
7. Illumination: Since your night vision is not as good as your adventure cat's, carry a flashlight, lantern, headlamp, or another light source, along with extra batteries. A headlamp might be your best option as it allows you to have your hands free to hold a leash or your cat if necessary.
8. Insulation: Weather conditions can change rapidly, especially in mountainous areas. Dress in layers, bring an additional layer of clothing, and pack rain gear. Consider worst-case weather scenarios and pack accordingly. Your cat may also require something to stay warm.
9. Pocketknife or multi-use tool: A knife, screwdriver, and scissors can be useful for various tasks like opening cans or cutting bandages. For a low-cost multi-use tool, you can wrap duct tape around your water bottle or trekking poles.
10. Emergency shelter: While you may not plan to spend the night, having a tent, tarp, emergency blanket, or even a large trash bag can be invaluable if you get lost or injured. A tarp and some paracord can be used to create an emergency shelter within minutes.
11. Collar and ID tags: Ensure that your cat always wears easily legible identification tags with your name, address, and phone number. In certain states like Rhode Island, cats are legally required to have identification on them at all times. Additionally, we highly recommend that you have your feline companion microchipped before venturing outdoors.
12. Harness and leash
When you're outside with your adventure cat, it's essential that they wear a harness and leash at all times. Consider adding reflective tape or LED lights to both the harness and leash to enhance their visibility, especially if you plan on hiking in areas where hunting is permitted. This will be valuable in case of separation.
13. Recent photo of your cat: Carry an up-to-date photograph of your cat with you or store it on your phone. While it's true that Fluffy was incredibly adorable as a kitten, if you're hiking with a five-year-old Fluffy, that kitten photo won't be of much use. If you become separated from your cat, you can show the photo to fellow hikers, and you'll have a readily available image for photocopying or printing if you need to create flyers or posters for distribution in the vicinity.
14. Poop bags and/or litter box & litter: Remember that the principle of "Leave No Trace" applies to your cat's waste as well. Cat feces can contain harmful parasites like T. gondii, so it's crucial to clean it up and carry it out. If your adventure cat prefers using a litter box, there are various disposable and foldable options available that can be handy during outdoor excursions.