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Old 31-03-2015, 08:19   #1
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Cats On Board...

How many of you have traveled or lived aboard with a cat? We've met one couple with a live aboard cat, but they had a power yacht, and she had the room to do her kitty play. I'm wondering more about sailboats.

We met another couple who had taken their cat out sailing with them, but never really kept the cat over two days out at anchor.

And we met a family, mom, dad, two girls, and a cat, and the two girls were taking the car for a walk on his leash. It was one of the cutest things I'd seen while sailing. But they had a catamaran, and that definitely has the room for a family of that size.

We're in an apartment right now and got a kitten last October. He's not even a year yet, and we want him to come with us and live on a boat with us. Our only issue is that we couldn't have him on our current boat. It's not even 26 feet, and it gets so hot in there some days that we can't even tolerate the heat. What would you cat (meow cat) owners suggest on how small a boat can be whilst providing sufficient living for the cat? We won't have an animal on board unless we know it will work well for them.

Thanks!
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Old 31-03-2015, 08:31   #2
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Re: Cats On Board...

Cats can tolerate the heat, but a small fan would help in any case.

I had a cat on a Pearson 26. He had room to do what cat-things he did and I even took his "friend"(another cat), on board from time to time.

Now I have two cats(brothers ... I've always heard & believe males are generally more friendly), and they get a long fine on a 28' Newport, although I haven't taken them out sailing ... yet.

Now I have a Bristol 29(a little less inside room), and plan to take the boat to the east coast for winter, with the cats.
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Old 31-03-2015, 08:33   #3
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Re: Cats On Board...

That is very good to hear. That's not much bigger than what we have now. Another concern I may have is all the little nooks and crannies that they could possibly get into, but have a hard time getting out of. Have you have to do any "cat-protection" on your boat?
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Old 31-03-2015, 08:45   #4
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Re: Cats On Board...

We had a cat for the latter part of our live aboard for about a year. She was a mature female that we took upon the death of my mother-in-law. The cat adapted very well to the boat. We stayed at the dock for about a week. We kept the cat in her carrier for a day or two. We then kept her below for a day or two. She was used to a litter box so no problem there.
The cat was fascinated with the fish swimming below and was always stalking birds on deck. She never wanted to jump off the boat, either to the dock or into the water
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Old 31-03-2015, 10:25   #5
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Re: Cats On Board...

Make sure you have floaters available. Maybe something as simple as a few $1 noodles tied together ... then something like a few feet long piece of throw-away carpet so he/she/it can get back on board.

The cats can most definitely get into small spaces. What you "really", have to worry about is if/when they bring you "gifts"(especially live "gifts", that they might lose in the boat.
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Old 31-03-2015, 10:32   #6
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Re: Cats On Board...

Our cat sailed halfway around the world with us as a kitten. She loved it. She hung out with us and purred. She ate flying fish that landed on deck. She was only seasick once, in a gale. It was very cute and fun.

Years later she sailed with us again and absolutely hated it. It was a disaster. She was seasick on minor day hops between islands. She lost her litter box training and took to defecating EVERYWHERE, I think because she hated the boat and wanted off. We tried to send her home with relatives that visited us, but the particular island countries we were at didn't want her to come ashore to go to the airport with them. Then, flying back to America, I almost missed the flight because the folks at the airport misunderstood their own country's rules for exporting a pet. They wanted a piece of paper I was not supposed to need, and I had forty minutes to rush and get it from the local vet.

So, I guess, my advice is to try it and see what happens. It can work very well. But have a good backup plan if the animal hates it, and definitely don't leave the country until you are sure they like it.

For us, given how bad it can go, we are ... done with pets. Maybe when I am elderly I will have a dog that sits with me on the porch.


Photo is from the good days, on passage in the South Pacific.
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Old 31-03-2015, 11:16   #7
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Re: Cats On Board...

We cruise for months at a time with two cats on a 37' monohull. They are house cats so have no need to go topside at all. They live very well down below. We have a great spot for their kitty litter pan and feed them canned cat food. Crossing the Gulf Stream they find a comfortable place to sleep and endure for 14 hours, none the worse for wear. I sometimes feel sorry for 'dog' people when I see how much time and trouble they spend on caring for them.
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Old 31-03-2015, 11:22   #8
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Re: Cats On Board...

msponer, your kitty is adorable! Ours is a tabby too. It's so cute to see the water behind them. I saw someone on facebook talk about how they would drug their dog for certain passages. I don't know how to feel about that. It is nice that cats are as independent as they are compared to dogs. I guess it will just have to be a trial run whenever we get the chance. We have been getting his paws wet in the bath tub to try to accustom him to water, just in case.
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Old 31-03-2015, 11:53   #9
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Re: Cats On Board...

Thanks, she was super cute. She followed us everywhere on the boat, here she is looking up as us as we climbed the ratlines.


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Old 31-03-2015, 17:30   #10
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Re: Cats On Board...

We once had 3 cats on our 37' Tayana. It worked out well as long as we kept them inside when docked. Otherwise they would jump ship. In '05, we bought a 48' trawler and lived aboard each year 3-6 months. Again, they do great unless we are at a dock. Our solution is to anchor out.
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Old 31-03-2015, 18:48   #11
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Re: Cats On Board...

We lived aboard a monohull with a Jack Russell Terrier and a cat (Helen the sailing cat) for 7 years. Helen loved it! As to your question about heat tolerance... We left Helen down below guarding the boat for 10 days in Grenada in August with a hatch and a few ports cracked open and several fans running. We had fellow boaters look in on her several times a day and she was just fine. Take it from a veterinarian: cats can take some serious heat.
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Old 02-04-2015, 21:21   #12
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Re: Cats On Board...

We sail on our 25ft boat with a cat. We've had her since she was a kitten and she (Mouse) spent her first year or so always at anchor or on a mooring. Consequently, when we have been in marinas, she shows no desire whatsoever of going ashore. She is not very good with strangers and won't let people pet her until she knows them quite well, this could be due to the fact that she is a rescue cat from a wet market in Langkawi or the fact that her first couple of encounters with strangers on the boat were with loud drunk men who frightened her.

Mouse doesn't love sailing unless it is calm and sunny and we have a harness we insists she wears at night if she wants to be in the cockpit. She hates this and goes back inside and sits on the off watch and cries until it is removed.

She's fallen overboard three times, twice whilst at anchor and once in a marina. The first two times she got herself back on board by swimming round to the boarding ladder and climbing up. In the marina she held onto one of the mooring lines and yelled her head off until we rescued her.

We've trained her to use a rubber mat inside a plastic box for her toilet, so under way we empty it overboard and tow the rubber mat until it is clean. She sometimes gets constipated in heavy weather so we have to make sure she drinks a lot to help with that.

We have a lot of toys for her and designate an hour each evening on passage as play with the cat hour as well as her usual playing.
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Old 04-04-2015, 13:17   #13
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Re: Cats On Board...

Quote:
And we met a family, mom, dad, two girls, and a cat, and the two girls were taking the car for a walk on his leash. It was one of the cutest things I'd seen while sailing.


For a second there, I thought you were talking about my family and I. We have a 15 year old cat on board. He does well. At 15 years old he has ZERO desire to leave the cockpit or venture anywhere. We still put up the netting around the boat. Hardest part about sailing with a cat is the litter. Right now we're using rolled oats so that we can throw the litter overboard when it's used. Problem is that rolled oats mixed with urine makes for gross cat pee oatmeal. But then again it doesn't track. We're almost out of the 50 lbs we brought of rolled oats....need to start looking for something else.
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Old 04-04-2015, 13:46   #14
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Re: Cats On Board...

When our cat was younger (and more interested in the litter box), we put Dri-Dek tile in the bottom of her litter box. It kept her paws from getting wet, which is all she seemed to want. Then would rinse the whole thing (litter box and tile) overboard.

We've also used shredded newspaper. Before that we would fill a bucket of sand on the beach, but stopped when some nasty bugs came on board with it.
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Old 04-04-2015, 15:36   #15
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Re: Cats On Board...

Have some way for the cat to get back on board if they should accidentally fall in. The cat won't like it but toss them in the water a couple of times and guide them around to the climbing device and let them climb back aboard. Helps if you can pick a time when you are trying to train them not to do something, like scratch the upholstery, when you throw them in. It does get their attention. Our first kitten went missing the first time we anchored out and we hadn't thought about having a way for her to climb back on board.

Cats can hide in very confined spaces. We were traveling with our original cat and stopped to visit a friend living aboard their boat. Somewhere along the line he disappeared. Looked all over the boat and Marina for him with no luck. Originally had planned on continuing on to our destination but couldn't leave without finding the cat. Booked a Motel Room so we could stay and hunt for him. We went back to the boat for dinner and were sitting around in the evening after many trips around the marina searching the missing feline when the cat came sauntering out of the forepeak. Apparently he'd taken a long nap, possibly in the chain locker, finally woke up.

Be aware that neutered males often have bladder problems as they get older. Had to put our last cruising cat down when he came down with constant bladder problems and we ran out of catheters to relieve him. Fortunately had met a cruising veterinarian who'd given us antibiotics and his entire supply of catheters but to no avail.
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