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Old 11-03-2015, 13:13   #1
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Old cats, new tricks?

Heya people,

I've got a bit of a problem. I'm gonna be sailing for over two months this summer, circumnavigating the baltic sea, and I've no one to look after my cat. I know that many cats are leading perfectly content lives afloat, but as I've understood it they have been grown into it, or at least introduced to it at a sufficiently early age for the experience to become "natural".

Now my cat, who's 12 years old, has never been on board my boat and views the biannual car trip to my mum's place as torture, and perceives the vacuum cleaner as the spawn of satan himself. And I am just worried will the whole experience of sailing, and especially motoring, too much for the poor sedate old kitty.

I'd appreciate it if anyone would share their experience with how inexperienced cats gain their sea legs!
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Old 11-03-2015, 14:13   #2
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

We have two 8-ish year old cats that had never been aboard before. We bought our boat last spring, and brought the cats for a weekend spent tied to the dock (the boat, not the cats). On subsequent visits we motored and then a couple of easy sails.

One seems to be adjusting fine, the other is taking a little longer.

Our boat is covered for the winter (Northeast USA), but this spring we plan on moving aboard fulltime, and heading South. I will admit I am a little nervous about how they will handle rougher seas, but the times we did have them out they each seemed to find a "safe spot" to keep themselves (below decks) until we were done for the day. Back at the dock, we let them explore topsides, under our VERY watchful eyes.


Will you have anybody else aboard who can be with the cat to help calm it if it is not doing well?

I also made sure I brought something of "theirs" onboard (a blanket they like to nap on) to help them feel safer.

I should add, my cats do not get too agitated on car rides, although they do hide from the vacuum.
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Old 11-03-2015, 14:38   #3
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liunatic View Post
We have two 8-ish year old cats that had never been aboard before. We bought our boat last spring, and brought the cats for a weekend spent tied to the dock (the boat, not the cats). On subsequent visits we motored and then a couple of easy sails.

One seems to be adjusting fine, the other is taking a little longer.

Our boat is covered for the winter (Northeast USA), but this spring we plan on moving aboard fulltime, and heading South. I will admit I am a little nervous about how they will handle rougher seas, but the times we did have them out they each seemed to find a "safe spot" to keep themselves (below decks) until we were done for the day. Back at the dock, we let them explore topsides, under our VERY watchful eyes.


Will you have anybody else aboard who can be with the cat to help calm it if it is not doing well?

I also made sure I brought something of "theirs" onboard (a blanket they like to nap on) to help them feel safer.

I should add, my cats do not get too agitated on car rides, although they do hide from the vacuum.
My cats are 11.
One will puke and poop for an 8 hour car ride.... the other goes to sleep.
Took them out on the Centaur........ One will puke and poop all the way to America.
The other will go to sleep but not happy.....
Took them out on the Colvic Watson......... still finding dried poop.

Not boat cats.
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Old 11-03-2015, 14:42   #4
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

I'll be singlehanding it at least 1/3 of the way, but I think my spouse will be with me the first week of trip, if her vacation days pan out, so kitty will have someone she knows and loves to cling on to. I hope that'll make the transition easier.

I'm really worried about my cat falling overboard (my cat spends her summers on our large balcony though, balancing precariously on the edge, so maybe she'll be smart enough not to fall off?), do you keep yours indoors at all times when underway? What about when you're at a marina, do you lock them in when you're away and not supervising? Do you let down a netting (?) when you're in port do that the cats can have something they can use to climb aboard if they fall over?
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Old 11-03-2015, 14:50   #5
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

Having owned a few cats, first I would not stress that old a cat, it's getting very much on in years. Find a way to leave it at home
Second if you take it, find a way to keep it away from where you sleep, I don't know why, but every cat we have owned if we do something it doesn't like, it pees on our bed as retribution, and you know what cat pee smells like, I can only imagine it on a damp boat, where I had to sleep.


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Old 11-03-2015, 15:19   #6
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

Yeah, we've been punished with cat pee plenty of times during the past 12 years, mainly when we've been too busy working to pay attention to her

I will certainly attempt to get Slinky (that's her name) to stay with our friends, who she's stayed with before, but summer in finland is short, and everyone takes their vacations, plus my spouse will be away for most of it, so I might have to force Slinky along despite it all... :/
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Old 11-03-2015, 16:03   #7
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

Can you get Slinky to become used to staying in a Cat carrier well before you leave?
It's possible that if could become sort of a "safe place" or at least a familiar place?
Any chance for overnight visits on the boat, as in ease her into it, let her stay a few nights at the dock, then one day run the Diesel for awhile, but at the dock, then maybe next day motor around for awhile, go home, come back next weekend, slowly introduce new things, like sailing?
Old cats are more set in their ways, and many don't like new experieices, and 12 is actually very old for a cat.


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Old 11-03-2015, 16:06   #8
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

Any Cat I've ever owned I can't imagine falling in, they all viewed water like we do fire, one used to get pretty upset when the wife took a bath, would immediately start licking her dry as soon as she got out. But I've never had a cat on a boat, car was bad enough.


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Old 12-03-2015, 06:46   #9
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

Both my boys are strictly indoor cats.

We secured the cats below any time we were underway. I would go below and check on them - I should add, these initial trips were short, 1 - 2 hours. One day we picked up a mooring ball for a few hours and then once we and the boat were settled, I let them topside.

We will be installing lifeline netting this spring as a precaution, and I am also on the lookout for some type of cat rescue "scoop". I am thinking maybe some telescoping handle with a net, not necessarily to lift them from the water, but to guide them to the swim platform to be retrieved there.

My cats will not even tolerate a collar without freaking out, so any of those little pet life vests, I know, will be a waste of my money.

I don't believe they would jump in the water on purpose, but I know my cats like to "perch" on the edge of things, and my worry is they may be perched somewhere and an unexpected wave or wake might drop them into the drink (as the house we live in now has no rocking motion, they have no experience with that!!)

Would a pet-sitting service be out of the question? Might get very expensive if you will be away a long time, I suppose.
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Old 12-03-2015, 09:22   #10
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

In the US there are services that will come to your house every day & bring in your mail, clean the litter box & replenish the cat food & water. The one we use will even brush the cats for $15 a day.
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:34   #11
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

If cat travels in car ok, probably have a better likelihood of adjusting kitteh to boat

re:collar - Try a harness, or else google 'cat jacket' and see if either of these might be ok with kitteh. You want something on kitteh that if the cat falls in the water you can just grab a boathook and fish kitteh out. Also trailing a towel or thick hawser or something for kitteh to clamber onto off stern or steps is not a bad idea

the slow adjustments mentioned above seem to be working for mine (not as old as yours). We bring along a safe place (in her case it's her carrier) for her to climb into when underway. Our cat becomes quite the Velcro Kitteh when we take her along, it's nice if you could at least try the first times with someone else on board to comfort cat
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:58   #12
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

A writer for a local sailing magazine here has a cat. She can't let the cat out on deck when they are in their slip (they are liveaboards) 'cuz the cat would bolt down the dock. The cat doesn't "do" harnesses or leashes at all either.

Another friend from Florida cruised the Bahamas last year, brought their cat and their harness and leash. While the cat didn't love it, it got used to it.

Only your cat can tell you what's up. All of our anecdotal stories are useless. YOU have to try it out or decide what to do based on what YOUR cat's behavior is under the circumstances.

That said, good luck. Either way...
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Old 12-03-2015, 11:09   #13
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asmodeane View Post
Heya people,

I've got a bit of a problem. I'm gonna be sailing for over two months this summer, circumnavigating the baltic sea, and I've no one to look after my cat. I know that many cats are leading perfectly content lives afloat, but as I've understood it they have been grown into it, or at least introduced to it at a sufficiently early age for the experience to become "natural".

Now my cat, who's 12 years old, has never been on board my boat and views the biannual car trip to my mum's place as torture, and perceives the vacuum cleaner as the spawn of satan himself. And I am just worried will the whole experience of sailing, and especially motoring, too much for the poor sedate old kitty.

I'd appreciate it if anyone would share their experience with how inexperienced cats gain their sea legs!
Hi Asmodeane,

We are preparing to do the same thing this spring with our two cats (11 and 3 years old.)

I have considerable experience in the past raising a cat on a boat [he loved to travel in boats, automobiles, airplanes, etc. as a consequence] but little experience helping landlubber felines adapt to life onboard.

We found a cruising Vetrenarian who wrote some books in this regard who calls himself Capt'n Dr. Dave.

Check out his book: "Pets On Board? Adapting Your Pet to Travel By Boat or RV."

He also has a great book about pet health "Where There Is No Pet Doctor."

Let me also mention (given my experience with a full time live-aboard cat in the past) that we have converted our current two house cats over to the Breeze litter box system. [No dust and cheaper than clumping litter if you carefully shop for refills- at least where we live in Alaska...]

Here is another good article about sailing with cats written by cruising sailors.

In the comments section of that article, I left detailed information about the Breeze litter system [using my boat's name Denali Rose...]

Best of luck turning kitty into an old salt...

Cheers!
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Old 12-03-2015, 15:14   #14
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

Asmodean,

As A64pilot writes, it is an old kitty. (My old Mama Kitty only lived to 15.5.) You will be well served by talking to your veterinarian about how to lower the stress for her. Being with you and your wife will help, but if the boat motion is vigorous, Kitty may become quite upset, including the vomiting and diarrhea weavis mentioned. That could have a detrimental effect on your summer holiday.

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Old 12-03-2015, 15:31   #15
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Re: Old cats, new tricks?

We bring our cats along--the older is 15; the younger 13. They do fine. We took them sailing when they were young--5 or 6 I guess, but we then had an older cats in addition and she did fine.

We keep them below when under way, although the older cat (male) will come up in the cockpit to look around as long as it is not rough. At a mooring or anchor they like to walk the decks and check out the scenery. We let them do that as long as one of us is topsides. Lots of hissing contests with swans at times.

At a marina, we generally keep them secured--that means in the cockpit with the enclosure closed. In good weather the screens are in but otherwise the plastic is secured. They like to explore and one jumped ship for a day, working her way out of what we thought was a closed enclosure. She came back the next night as soon as it got dark. I think she was close, like under the boardwalk in our marina, just scared with all the noise and everyone looking for her. Hasn't happened again.

Ours won't wear a life vest--put one on and the cats flop over dead and refuse to move. I have a pole with a net on it in case one goes overboard, but that has not happened.

In rough weather, they find a cozy place and will occasionally get sick--just like people.

We keep the litter box in the forward head. That has a grated sole, so I put a sheet of plastic under the litter box. One year a friend helping clean the boat for the winter wanted to know what the gray clay-like substance was that clogged up the shower sump pump in the forward head. Down went the sheet of plastic the next year. When we have company the box goes on the sole in the aft cabin, again, with a sheet of plastic. Just have to remember it is there come morning. Don't ask.
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