Thinking of taking your cat to the beach?
While it’s possible to take your cat to the beach, most cats would not find the trip enjoyable! A better option for your kitty friend might be to find a pet-friendly hotel where your cat can stay while you are out in the sun, or a nearby kennel.
But if you’d like to attempt taking your cat to the beach, here are some tips for keeping your kitty relatively happy and completely safe.
Cats and Water
Most cats don't like water.
That's because cats navigate their world by smell. Water washes off their natural scent.
While a cat can usually kitty-paddle its way to safety if it accidentally falls into a pool, companion cats will not recognize it when it dries off. Their companion cats may hiss, claw, and assume a tail-straight-up fighting stance even with a cat they have known their entire lives.
Of greater concern, your cat may not be able to find the shore if he gets into the water at the beach. You shouldn't ever let your cat wander into the water when you go to the beach.
Transporting Your Cat to and From the Beach
When they have to ride in a car, most cats feel safer in confined spaces. Always take your cat to and from the beach in a pet carrier.
Your trip to the beach should not be the first time your cat has been inside its carrier. If you do not already have a cat carrier, buy one at least a month before your trip. Leave the door open so your cat can explore the carrier cage, and place a favorite toy, blanket, or pillow inside. These should be unwashed, so your cat can enjoy the scents of home.
Then, when the time comes to travel to your beach destination, your cat will already be familiar with her home away from home.
The best pet carriers for cats feature open construction, with lots of ventilation, a comfortable cushion, and bowls for food and water. Don’t be surprised if your cat prefers to spend the whole time at the beach inside the carrier!
Spending Time on the Beach with Your Cat
Never let your cat roam unrestrained on the beach. Why?
- Your cat could run away and get hit by an ATV or a car.
- Your cat could be injured in an encounter with an untrained or unrestrained dog.
- Your cat could attempt to catch and eat a crab, mollusk, or fish washed up on shore - with highly unpredictable consequences.
- Your cat could be claimed by other beachgoers, who may or may not make an effort to return him to you.
Also, in some locations, it is illegal to walk a cat that is not restrained by a leash and harness. If you want your cat to walk on the beach with you, fit him with a comfortable harness and guide him with a cat-safe leash.
Choosing a Harness for Your Cat
When choosing a harness for your cat, find a model that fits similar to a life vest. The harness should cover the top part of the cat's chest. It should sit on your cat's shoulders, not on your cat's neck.
The best harnesses are made from a breathable fabric, like polyester, that you can run through the washer and dryer when it needs to be cleaned. It should also be stain-resistant and odor-resistant. A good cat harness will allow your pet a good range of motion, and should be the right size for your cat. Adjustable harnesses can come loose, so it's better to find a harness that fits snugly around your cat's chest.
Choosing a Leash for Your Cat
Next, you’ll need to attach your cat’s harness to a leash. The leash should be long enough that you can hold it without pulling up on your cat's neck.
There are several kinds of leashes to choose from:
- Flat leashes for cats tend to be narrower than leashes for dogs. They are a good choice because they do not get easily tangled.
- Bungee leashes give your cat some freedom to react to a frightening situation without pulling the leash against his neck.
- Retractable leashes keep your cat closer to you, but they get tangled easily. Some cats don't like the sound they make when you are rolling them in. If you have never used a retractable leash before, it is easy to injure your cat.
It is always best to give your cat opportunities to try out her harness and a leash before your trip to the beach. Take your cat on several outdoor excursions in a familiar location before your beach trip.
Three More Considerations for Cat Safety at the Beach
Got your carrier, harness, and leash for your trip with Kitty to the beach? Here are three more considerations for feline comfort and safety:
Cat Treats and Snacks
Even on vacation, cats need their food and treats! Make sure your cat gets their food, water, and treats at the same times of day as at home.
Sun Protection for Cats
Cats can get sunburn.
Cats with white fur and pink skin burn more easily, but all cats (even black cats) can suffer painful sunburns if they spend too much time in the sun. Limit your cat's time in direct sunlight to 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. Allow your cat to spend the rest of the day in its well-ventilated carrier under shade.
Cat Coat Care
Beach cats can get sand in their coats. Wipe them off with a damp, clean cloth after their walk on the beach.
Your Kitty, The Beach, and You
Cats need extra care on the beach. But if you make the right preparations, everyone can have a happy day near the water!
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