You bring up a good point but in a rather Troll-y button-pushing way. An unfortunate number of pet owners DON'T keep their kitties or puppies from being a hassle to other boat owners. Whether it is a cat exploring a stranger's boat or a dog constantly barking or defecating on the docks, it's not OK, IMO. Just as letting a kitty explore like that isn't OK, leaving a dog on the boat to 'protect' it means the dog will be barking and disturbing the neighboring boaters while doing its protecting duties. Another thing that is not OK.
My thoughts are simple: Dogs and cats shouldn't be left outside the boat unsupervised ever. Dogs that bark when lonely also might not even be good candidates for leaving inside the boat.
Both cats and dogs should be leashed while walking the docks, IMO. Most cats can be taught to walk on a lease--even older cats. If you have a neighboring boater's cat visiting you, I'd suggest you talk to the boat owner and/or the marina to prevent it from happening again.
I believe the docks of a marina are not a safe place for my ships cat to be. Ever. I wouldn't dream of letting her off the boat unsupervised. I've seen my share of raccoon, rats, and battle scarred feral cats on marina docks and I don't want Beryl to have an exchange with any of them OR with another boater's pet.
Even the deck
of my anchored boat can be dangerous for the ships cat if she is left outside unsupervised. At anchor
, we've seen enough birds of prey visit the boat to know that our cat looks tempting as a meal. That's no joke--at Swanson Harbor, a natural harbor with a state-provided float (not connected to land) in the middle of nowhere in SE AK, I was walking along the float away from our boat towards the other end of the float and I had "cat watch" because my husband was inside the chart house. I was watching to make sure the cat didn't follow me (in the 3 years we've cruised with her, she never does get off the boat, but you never know) and suddenly an eagle swooped down to try and grab the cat from under the canoe stored on deck. Luckily, as he got close he realized the lifelines
were in his way and he swerved off at the last minute. I'm not sure he'd have been able to nab her from her perch under the canoe but that was a close call. I was a couple boat lengths away and couldn't have done a thing about it. Needless to say, we became even more careful when in Alaskan waters.
We are fortunate that our Ships Cat was an INDOOR cat for the first 2 years of her life. She finds being outside on our own boat to be a really big deal and somehow knows that the boat is hers but everything beyond it is not. Even so, we don't leave her outside unsupervised. Ever. And since the eagle incident, we don't leave her outside more than 20 feet from one of us during daytime if we're in a place where we have reason to believe there are lots of birds of prey. Nor does she get to go out at night if we think we're in owl territory. Our present routine is that Beryl hangs out with one of us outside or she's inside during the day. At night, if at anchor
, we'll let her out for a romp on deck (she loves to run around jumping on things in the dark) that lasts about 30 minutes. One of us will usually just sit in the charthouse where we can see what she's up to from the windows. In a marina, she tends not to want to do her deck-romp, but if she does, one of us sits in the cockpit
during her night-time ritual.
Our last ships cat, Beamer, was an indoor cat for the 14 years or so we had him before moving aboard the boat. He was content inside the boat.
From a cat owner perspective, I've had my own cats since I was in college in 1980 and I have not let a cat of mine roam alone outdoors since 1993--the year that I decided letting my cat go outside w/o being on a leash was risky business for my cat. I've owned 4 cats since then and it all seems to work out fine. Even rescue
cats that were once outdoor-only seem to settle into inside life, albeit, not necessarily easily.
It is lucky for you that a random cat visiting your cruising boat won't do a huge amount of hair leaving, scratching of things, or probably even be observable during your short stays in various marinas
. After all--the best of cruising doesn't happen in the marinas
. You will have feral rats, raccoon, possum, seals
, river otters, and countess birds visiting your boat too--you might want to make sure you're up to it, too
If you're a boater in a fixed location, have a nice talk with your neighboring liveaboard
cat owner or the marina management if it is feral cats causing a problem.