How to Stand Up Paddle Board with Your Cat

Have you considered going on a stand up paddle board with your cat?

Yes, there is a stereotype that cats don’t like water, but many cats actually like playing with water and being around water. With this in mind, many cats participate in water activities like kayaking & stand up paddle boarding with their humans.

But how do you begin to take your cat on a SUP?

Be Comfortable on a SUP Yourself

Cats have an amazing ability to read our emotions. If we are feeling nervous, they will feel nervous too.

With this in mind, we only recommend that you go on a SUP with your cat, only if you are comfortable on the paddle board yourself.

When you are comfortable, your cat will feel calm. The last thing you need is a nervous, agitated cat on a board in the middle of a body of water, while you feel nervous.

If you would like to eventually take your cat on a stand up paddleboard but still aren’t comfortable with it, we suggest taking a few classes at your local SUP school.

What You Need to Go Paddle Boarding With Your Cat

Your Stand Up Paddle Board

We suggest that when you are SUPing with your cat, you use a board that is at least 9 feet (2.7m) long and 33 to 34 inches (84cm) wide. This will be the most stable for you and your kitty.

A board with a soft top will also be ideal as they are less slippery than a laminated board.

You can also give your cat better footing by using a bath mat (with suction cups) or a specially made Pup Deck SUP traction pads.

If you are planning on renting your paddle board, we suggest asking the rental company if they would allow cats on the board. Some don’t allow pets as they may damage the board with their claws.

Lifejackets for Your Cat

There are several pet life jackets available on the market. Here are a few of our favourites.

We recommend that your kitty always wears a life jacket on the water in the unlikely instance that the fall in the water.

Sunscreen for Your Cat

Paddle boarding usually occurs while you are in open spaces in the sun.

Just like you would wear sunscreen, we recommend that you apply pet sunscreen on your cat too.

Sun Protection

Another way to protect your cat from the sun while you are on the SUP is to use a shelter like a pop up kitty cube.

This will not only protect your cat from the sun, but it will also act as a safe spot that they can retreat into when they get overwhelmed.

The kitty cube may also act as the ideal location for mid paddle boarding cat nap.

Cat Leash

It may be tempting to tie your cat’s leash to the paddle board. However, we don’t recommend that you do this as they will get stuck if your board flips.

Rather we recommend that you use a short leash on your cat that you can easily grab in an emergency.

Towels if Your Kitty Goes Swimming

There is a likely chance that your cat may get wet. As such we recommend that you take a few towels to dry them off and to help them stay warm.

If your cat does get wet, we also recommend that you give them a proper bath afterwards. This helps ensure that they do not ingest any salt or other things that might be in the water while they are grooming themselves.

Training Your Cat to Ride with You on a Stand Up Paddle Board

Once you have these tools, it can be really tempting to rush out to your local lake and take your cat paddle boarding.

However, they will need some training first.

Training Your Cat to Explore With You

Before you take your cat on a paddle board, you will need to ensure that they are comfortable exploring the world with you.

The easiest way to do this is to train them to use a harness.

We recommend spending some time doing other activities like hiking before jumping into stand up paddle boarding.

If you are comfortable in a kayak, you can take you cat kayaking too.

Training Your Cat to be Near Water

As you will be paddle boarding on water, your cat will need to be comfortable near water.

You can develop this comfort by slowly introducing your cat to still bodies of water while you are exploring and hiking together.

As they become more comfortable, you can start exposing them to bodies of water that are louder or have flowing water.

Your Cat’s Lifejacket

Just as you trained your cat to use their harness, you will need to train them to use their lifejacket.

This will require some time introducing your cat to the lifejacket and making them comfortable wearing it. You can use a similar process to how you harness trained your kitty.

Introducing Your Cat to the Stand Up Paddle Board

We recommend that you introduce your cat to your paddle board on land, before you use it.

Let them smell it and reward them when they get on the paddle board by themselves.

If you have the room, you can even do this in your home or in your backyard.

Your Cat’s Spot on the Paddle Board

It would be ideal if your cat has a place to sit on the board. This could be their pop up kitty cube or even Pup Deck SUP traction pads.

For safety reasons, we recommend training your cat to go to this spot.

You can use clicker training to do this.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding With Your Cat for the First Time

Picking the Right Location

Once your cat is comfortable with the paddle board on land as well as being comfortable near water, it is time to combine the 2 – take the paddleboard out on the water.

We suggest picking a location that is quiet, calm and does not have a lot of people and animals.

One way to do this is to go when the paddle boarding areas are not very popular like early in the morning.

We also suggest picking a day that is not very windy. Many kitties do not enjoy a lot of wind and excessive wind will make the water choppy.

Taking the Board into Shallow Water

Place your cat on the board and paddle into a shallow area.

We suggest staying close to land as this will enable you to quickly come back to shore if your cat is distressed.

As your cat becomes more comfortable on the paddle board, you can start moving away from shore.

Your first trip on the SUP with your cat may be a very short trip. As your cat becomes more comfortable, your outings can be longer.

How to Stay On a Stand Up Paddle Board With Your Cat

Cats are typically great on SUPs as they have a low centre of gravity.

If you are struggling to keep your own balance, you can either kneel or sit on the board. This will help you lower your centre of gravity.

It also allows your kitty to cuddle with you if they are nervous.

It is totally possible to go on a stand up paddle board with your cat. They will love watching the water move and seeing the fish swim in the water.

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