How to Go Kayaking with Your Cat

Did you know that many cats love kayaking with their humans?

There is a stereotype that cats don’t like water, but did you know that it really comes down to your cat’s personal preferences?

And if your cat is comfortable around water, you can go kayaking with them!

To go kayaking with your cat, you will need to train to be comfortable with the kayak itself and the idea of being on the water. We also recommend that you prepare your cat with the gear that they need to be safe on the water.

The most important aspect of kayaking with your cat, is that you need to be comfortable on a kayak. If you are kayaking for the first time or are nervous on the kayak by yourself, we strongly recommend that you do not take your kitty with you.

After all, we have all learnt that our kitties read our concerns and if we are nervous, they become nervous.

And you do not want a nervous cat on the water with you!

Kayaking with Your Cat

It sounds easy right? Unload kayak into the water, jump in with cat, & start kayaking. Easy?

But what do you do with your cat while you unload the kayak? Where does your cat sit in the kayak? Won’t they be curious while kayaking? What if they jump off the kayak, because they don’t understand water, or if they want to catch that fish swimming past?

It may not sound super straight forward.

But, there are ways that you can make it easy and fun for both of you.

We recommend investing in the right gear for your cat before you go on the water.

The Right Cat Gear for Kayaking

Harness & Leash for Your Cat

While many humans are very comfortable on the water, our cats need to be comfortable exploring with us prior to jumping into kayaking.

As such we recommend that you purchase the right harness for your kitty & harness train them first.

While kayaking we recommend that you keep you kitty tethered on a shorter leash.

Backpacks for Your Cat

A cat backpack provides a safe space for your cat to retreat into if they feel scared or overwhelmed.

A safe spot is vital for exploring with your cat and we recommend that you have one in your canoe. It is that place your cat can jump into if another kayak goes past or if a goose starts honking suddenly.

Once you have backpack trained your cat, their backpack will be the perfect safe spot for them on a kayak.

You can either wear the backpack on your back while kayaking or you can keep the backpack in the well in between your legs.

Lifejackets for Your Cat

Often when we think of watersports and safety, the first thing that pops into our mind is a lifejacket.

To find how to pick a life jacket for your kitty and which life jackets would be the best for you see here.

Doggles for Your Cat

Just as humans wear sunglasses to protect our eyes, your kitty can wear doggles!

We recommend using the same training process as harness training to ensure that your kitty is comfortable wearing their doggles.

Though, it is important to remember that some doggles are so tinted that your cat can only see out of them while they are in an area with sunlight.

Sunscreen for Your Cat

Most of the time you are kayaking, you will be out in the sun, which increases the risk that you cat will get sunburnt.

Like humans wear sunscreen, our cats also need sunscreen.

There are several types of pet sunscreen on the market, but we recommend that you ensure the sunscreen you pick is safe for cats. One way to do this is to call your local vet clinic and ask if the ingredients in the sunscreen is safe for cats.

Training Your Cat to Use Their Life Jacket

It can be tempting to throw a life jacket on your cat and take them kayaking straight away,

However, remember the first time you put a harness on your cat? They probably froze and flopped on the ground.

Just like it took some training for your cat to be comfortable to use their harness, your cat may need some training to use their life jacket.

We recommend using the same training process that you used to harness train your cat.

Training Your Cat to be Near Water

One of the certainties of kayaking is that you will be near water.

As such we recommend that you check that your cat is comfortable near flowing or still water. To do this, you can take them for a walk near a lake or a stream.

It is normal for a cat to initially be wary, but over time many become comfortable near water.

Introducing Your Cat to the Kayak

It can be really tempting to take your kitty straight into your kayak and then straight on to the water.

However, bear in mind that the kayak is a new environment for your cat and they may need some time to get acquainted with it, even before you go out on the water.

1. Introducing Your Cat to the Kayak at Home

It would be ideal to introduce your cat to your kayak at home, where they are already comfortable in it.

Let your cat climb in and see that it is not a scary contraption.

If you are so inclined, you could introduce them to the kayak in the same way you introduced your cat to their cat backpack.

While at home, you can also practice in sitting in the kayak with your kitty and their backpack. This helps them get used to being in the kayak with you.

2. Introducing Your Cat to the Kayak on Dry Land

When you arrive to the location that you will go kayaking for the first time, we suggest sitting in the kayak with your cat on dry ground first.

Yes, you may look a little silly to everyone around you.

But, you are helping your cat feel comfortable in a new environment.

How to Pick Where to Kayak with Your Cat

We’ve all seen it, the moment a kitty is in a windy spot. The ears go down, they get cranky and do their best to hide.

The last thing you would want, while in the middle of a lake, is a cranky kitty.

So when picking a place to go kayaking, we suggest you consider:

  • How fast the water is flowing:

    • If it is really fast flowing water or rapids, it is likely to splash and make waves, which your kitty may not appreciate.

  • The weather on the particular day:

    • We suggest that you avoid windy days, as your kitty may not enjoy the wind and the waves the wind may bring.

  • How busy the area is:

    • For your cat’s first time on the kayak, we suggest picking a location that is not too busy as this may scare your cat as they are trying to learn a new activity.

    • Sometimes it may be easier to go at times that aren’t very popular, like early in the morning.

Getting on the Water with Your Cat

The first time you take your cat on a kayak in the water, we recommend you choose a shallow still location and stay near the shore. This way, if you need to, you can easily get back on land.

As your cat becomes more comfortable on the kayak, you can slowly move further away from shore. You can even start adding more stimuli into your adventures, like locations with lots of waves.

Some Things to Bear in Mind

The First Few Times

Don’t be disheartened if your first few kayaking adventures are cut shorter as your cat gets a little spooked.

Start small and slowly make your outing longer as you cat becomes more comfortable.

Wear Long Sleaves

The first time you go out on the water, it may be difficult to predict how your cat will react. To help ensure that you do not get scratched if your cat gets very nervous, we suggest wearing long pants and long sleaves.

Kitties Getting Wet

It is really likely that your cat might jump in the water. After all, that is why your cat is wearing a life jacket.

We suggest that you have a towel or blanket on hand to keep your cat warm after they get wet.

If you are kayaking on sea water, make sure you give your kitty a bath after they get wet. This helps ensure that they do not ingest large quantities of salt from the sea water.

Stay Calm

Our cats read our feeling and how calm we are. If we get stressed, they get stressed.

There may be times when your cat is walking around the kayak in excitement. It is easier said than done, but if you can stay calm, it will help you keep you and your kitty safe.

After all, you have a very important job on the kayak – to keep it balanced and to keep it moving.

Combatting Kitty Boredom

As you and your kitty become more experienced kayakers, there is a chance that your kitty may get a little bored as your trips get longer.

For situations like this, we suggest keeping a toy on hand. You can keep a small toy in their backpack to distract them.

Food & Water

As your kayaking expeditions increase in time, we recommend ensuring that you carry enough food and water for both you and your kitty.

Kayaking with your cat may seem daunting.

But as with any form of catexploring, if you train your kitty and take your time, it can be an amazing enjoyable experience.

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