So, it is finally summer and you are looking forward to relaxing and basking in the sunshine like you don’t have a care in the world. And you would really like to share the whole experience with your feline companion.
Understandably, most cat owners do not want to just leave their furball behind while they enjoy a nice vacation somewhere else. As much as possible, we all want to share amazing memories with our pets through trips and adventures.
Unfortunately, not all cats will enjoy a beach trip. Most cats hate water, and the sound of the waves might really freak them out. On the other hand, certain breeds with curious and adventurous personalities might actually love the beach and being in the water.
If you are planning to take your cat to the beach for the first time, then it is essential to prepare him for the trip ahead of time. Try to put yourself in his shoes: imagine being taken to an unfamiliar place with lots of people and other animals. Yes – for a cat, that can be really scary. That is why it is important to train your cat gradually, through short trips, until he gets used to going out. Otherwise, the whole trip will turn into a horrible mess for both you and your cat!
If you are sure your cat has the right temperament to accompany you on your next beach adventure, read on to learn some tips that might help make your trip smooth and enjoyable.
First and foremost – make sure the beach is cat-friendly
As much as we want to share our enjoyable trips with our furry family members, not all beaches allow pets. So, before you pack your things, it is always worth researching the beach you plan to visit. Call the relevant authority if possible to find out their pet policies. If you see a sign saying “no pets allowed”, it would obviously be better to leave your furball behind, or go and find another beach that does allow cats.
Another thing you need to consider when checking out your destination is potential threats present in the area at certain times. This includes extreme weather changes, tides that suddenly become high and dangerous, or the presence of wildlife.
Remember that accidents can happen at any time. Having the relevant information beforehand will not only benefit your pets but you and your friends or family members as well.
Harness train your cat before heading to the beach
Never take your cat to the beach if he is not confident and happy on his leash. Doing so will cause inordinate stress for both of you!
New environments like the beach can cause a cat’s anxiety to skyrocket, especially if he is not used to traveling. Yes, we get it – the beach trip is a spur-of-the-moment decision and you cannot just leave Kitty alone at home. But throwing a harness and leash onto your cat for the first time is not a good start to a day on the beach. Instead, the bad experience might traumatize him and cause him to avoid the leash and future trips with you.
On the other hand, a cat that is well-trained on the leash will make your trip to the beach smooth and enjoyable. You can confidently walk on the shoreline accompanied by your furry friend, or tie him to a beach tent knowing that he is happy and comfortable.
If you have not trained your feline to love his leash, it would be better to leave him in the care of a friend or neighbor while you are away. In your spare time, try to patiently help him get used to his harness and leash so that one day you will be able to take him on trips and enjoy precious moments together with no problems.
Pack all the essentials
We are not just talking about your personal backpack – your cat should have his own separate bag, too! This should contain all the necessities your cat needs on the trip, including:
- Cat backpack or carrier
- Bottle of fresh drinking water
- A clean food or drinking bowl
- Your cat’s favorite canned food and snacks
- Harness and leash
- Cat sunscreen
- Grooming wipes for cats
- Odor-sealing cat litter bags
- First aid kit
- Identification or ID tags
Can cats go on sand?
Yes, the majority of our whiskered friends love beach sand. For cats, the vast area of sand is like a large litter box where they can bury their mess and scent. Surely your feline will enjoy exploring and digging in the soft sand – as long as it is not too hot or wet.
Helpful hints to keep your pets safe on the beach
Having a good time at the beach is something we all look forward to, but traveling with your feline can be a headache if you are under-prepared. The beach is an open area where anything could happen, especially to your cat who relies on you for safety and security. To avoid the dangers and ensure that everyone has a relaxing and fun day at the beach, make sure to follow these tips:
1. Ensure your pet is well-hydrated
Going to the beach can be fun but also exhausting for your cat. A bottle of fresh water should always be available to help him beat the heat and stay hydrated. Let your cat have a few sips from time to time to quench his thirst. Remember that the salty water from the ocean is not safe for cats to drink – it can cause stomach upset and you do not want that to happen.
2. Use cat sunscreen
Sunscreen is extremely important to avoid painful sunburn and blisters from damaging UV rays – and we are not just talking about protecting human skin. Cats are also not exempt from the scorching heat of the sun, so be sure to apply feline sunscreen to your cat’s exposed body parts, such as the nose and tips of the ears. We highly recommend choosing a high-quality sunscreen for cats that is approved by your vet.
3. Keep an eye on your pet
It only takes a few seconds for your feline to get up to mischief, impatiently chase after a bird or dash toward the shoreline – and who knows what might happen next! Constantly monitor your furry companion and keep him on a leash at all times. After all, you do not want to spend the rest of your day at the beach searching for your missing pet.
4. Do not let Kitty explore the shallows unsupervised
Most cats do not seem to enjoy getting wet as dogs do, so they are unlikely to go too close to the shoreline. Nevertheless, it is always better to stay vigilant of your pet’s whereabouts. Your cat might suddenly take off after a bird or some other creature in the direction of the shallows. If he ventures too far, it is not impossible for him to be taken by the ocean’s strong currents and gets swallowed by the waves.
4. Do not forget to rinse
After a long day at the beach, we all want a fresh shower to wash away the salt and sand. Our furry friends need this, too – in fact, their sensitive skin can be easily irritated as the dried saltwater and debris can lodge into their fur. Sometimes, wiping may not be enough to remove all the sand and dirt from his fur and paws, so give him a quick bath if necessary.
Other tips to stay safe
The beach is a nice, warm place to relax and enjoy. But not everything there is safe for your cat. If you plan on staying there for a few hours with your furry companion, remember these additional tips to keep your cat away from danger:
- Know your beach well. Ask a lifeguard about the beach conditions, such as jellyfish invasions and coastal currents.
- Always bring an umbrella to avoid sunburn
- Keep your cat away from the waves
- Restrain your cat if he tries to chase birds or other animals on the beach
- Avoid the shallow, grassy bottom water, as this area might house leeches that could attach to your legs or your feline’s body.
- Be careful of broken glasses or trash while walking with your pet along the shoreline
- Do not let your cat drink saltwater from the ocean
- Be wary of dogs on the beach
- Monitor your cat and lookout for signs of stress such as panting, heavy breathing, excessive yowling, and sweaty paws
- Do not force your cat if he does not like going to the beach. He will be happier and safer if you leave him at home instead.
End your beach trip with a delicious treat
Ending your beach trip with a delicious treat is a nice form of positive reinforcement for your cat. This will help him associate the beach experience with a tasty reward or something pleasurable. You can even play with your cat using his favorite toy and give him lots of cuddles, petting and praise. And who knows – your cat might soon be your regular travel buddy, not just on the beach but almost any place you want to explore together.
Wrapping it up
Beach trips and water adventures are certainly not for all cats. While some breeds might enjoy exploring the sandy beach and basking in the sun, the majority of cats are likely to find it unpleasant and frightening, especially (but not only) the first time. This can be a headache for cat owners who do not want to leave their pets alone at home.
Slowly training your furry friend to love his leash should be the first step before planning any trips to the beach. Secondly, you must also ensure that you choose a pet-friendly beach and prepare everything you need ahead of time.
If you think your cat did not enjoy the beach experience, try to gradually tag him along on other short trips until he gets used to interacting outside the home. Who knows – soon you may have a travel buddy to accompany you wherever you go!
Image: istockphoto.com / Svetlana Sultanaeva