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Protecting your cat while camping


Tomoka State Park is located near where I live in Florida. There is a camping supply store, Tomoka Outpost, inside the park and I follow them on Facebook. Today, I saw them post this: 

"What's the number one thing campers lose while camping?
Yes, the number one thing people lose while camping at Tomoka is their cat.
Keep this in mind next time you think about camping with a cat."
I went on to inquire more about this. I was curious, because we've had a travel trailer for 5.5 years and there have been numerous times that our kids asked if the cats could go camping. On the one hand, I think they would love laying on the couch or bed and viewing the wildlife outside. But one of the main reasons we always say now is that we fear the cat would run out of the trailer and be lost.
Turns out, that's exactly what is happening, as confirmed by the supply store. Cats can be skittish, anyone who has one in their family knows this. In unfamiliar areas they may act afraid, nervous, etc. There could be a loud noise, storm, or something else happen and they bolt to hide. They may bolt out the door of the RV, too.
The supply store person said that people are routinely reporting missing cats. Their cat gets out of the RV and they are never to be found again. Imagine going to the campground only to leave without your furry family member. That's happening a lot. They said that out of every 25 cases of this happening, maybe 1 person will get lucky and find their cat before their camping trip is over. 
Campgrounds, especially state parks, often have large wooded areas nearby. This makes it even more difficult, because the cats can get lost or hide in there, never to be seen again. There can also be wildlife in there that will eat the cats, such as coyotes. The cats may hide in the woods and since they often fear people, will stay hidden when people are looking for them. 

So what can be done? Here are some tips:

  • First, leave the cats at home if at all possible. If it's a short camping trip they can stay at home or you can have someone stop by and check up on them. It's safer for them to be in the comfort of their own home than to be vulnerable to camping.
  • Secondly, if you will be gone long term, try and get the cat comfortable with the RV prior to leaving for your road trip. Let them spend a day or two in it before the trip, so they are not so skittish about being in a new place.
  • Third, make sure you have a proper identification tag on the cat that includes your cell number (since you are traveling). This way, if you are gone from that campground and the cat comes around people will be able to help you get her/him back.
  • Also, do what you can to make the RV cat safe and to keep them from being able to dart out the door. If you have a cat that is used to going outside at home, avoid letting them do that at the campground. If you feel they really need to get outside, use a netted enclosure that allows them to do so safely.
Another thing to do if you do lose your cat while camping is to post a picture of the lost cat with your phone number, and keep in contact with the campground. In the Facebook thread I'm referring to in the beginning, someone posted a picture of a cat that came to their campsite at that campground. Chances are, that was someone's lost cat, but without identification there's now way to contact anyone.
I know I would be upset if we took our cats camping and one got lost and left at the campground. I hate the thought of that happening to others. Meow! :)


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