You love boating, and you love your pet, so what could be better than combining these things and bringing your four legged friend out on the water with you? It may sound like it could be problematic, but actually, with the right planning and preparation, most dogs and cats adapt pretty well to life on the ocean waves. If you think about it, both cats and dogs have been taken on ships for centuries for different reasons, including keeping vermin away from cargo and helping the crew in various ways. The needs of dogs and cats are quite different in any situation, so here we take a look at preparing both your boat and your pet for a trip:
Taking a cat on a boat
Cats have less of an impact on your itinerary plans than dogs, as you don't have to worry about walking them. This means longer periods at sea are possible with a cat. You do need to consider both its comfort and safety, however, and that means you need to do a little cat proofing on your boat before you can bring kitty on board. One of the first things to consider is where it will go to the bathroom. A litter tray works just as well on sea as on land if the cat is trained to use it, so use either the same tray and litter that you use at home or an identical set so they instantly know what it is for. Secure the litter box so that it doesn't slip around and spill litter or upset the cat by moving when they are inside it. You may also want to secure the bowls you use for your cat's food and water.
Another part of cat proofing your boat is checking there are no little crevices a cat can get into and become trapped. Because of the way boats are designed with everything stowable and as much space saved as possible, there are usually lots on small spaces to explore, and anyone who has seen a cat try and fit in a box half its size will know how inviting this can be for a feline.You should also look out for anything a cat can accidentally eat or hurt themselves on, and keep this out of their reach, just as if you were preparing your boat for a toddler!
Taking a dog on a boat
A lot of people take their dogs on boats or ships, and there are a range of products like doggy life jackets and boat dog toilets you can buy to make the trips safer and more comfortable for your dog – click here for a great marine directory which can help you find things to aid with this.
As with cats, you need to prepare your boat by making sure anything dangerous or chewable is out of your dog's reach, and make sure they know where they can sleep, eat, and, if it is a long trip and they won't get a walk ashore regularly, go to the bathroom. Familiarise your dog with your boat before the trip so they have already had a chance to wander around and smell everything before you set sail, and you should find they are fairly relaxed about the whole experience. Do, however, bear your dog's exercise needs in mind when planning how regularly to stop and go ashore. Smaller dogs may be OK without a proper walk for a day, but larger dogs really do need to stretch their legs as often as is practical on your trip.
Most cats and dogs soon get their sea legs and enjoy being on a boat, but it does pay to plan and prepare in advance to give them the best experience possible.
This article has been written by Keith Sullivan, who is highly experienced in the repairing, building and general upkeep of boats, as well as having a passion for writing.