Cats on Boats: Everything You Need to Know

Sailing Cats Can Be Great Onboard Companions

Having cats on boats is a great way to bond with your four-legged buddy while still doing something you enjoy. If you are thinking about taking your cat on a boating trip, both of you will benefit from what can be a positive experience. 

If your sailing cat isn’t already used to being on a boat, though, you will need to take steps to get your furry best friend to the point where they can comfortably join you.

Read on to discover how you can take your cat boating and what you will need to pack for them. 

Getting Cats on Boats

If you’re considering sailing with a cat for the first time, you can make the experience easy and enjoyable for both you and your pet by taking some steps to prepare first.

Going boating with pets requires some training to get them used to being on an unfamiliar surface. Boats are not stable, so your cat may be anxious or unsure of its footing. Additionally, when you need to get off the boat, your cat may feel out of its comfort zone that you are not there. 

As their trusted friend, it’s up to you to make sure of a few things before you get your cat on a boat: 

  • Can your cat swim? Unfortunately, accidents can happen that may result in your cat going overboard. To ensure that a small accident doesn’t turn into a bigger one, make certain your cat knows how to swim before you decide to take them onto the boat.
  • Is your cat comfortable being on a boat? Cats are usually home-based pets, preferring to lounge on the couch or catch a glimpse of sun by the window. Do you think your cat would adapt comfortably to life on a boat? Would they be okay to walk around on the outside deck and in the cabin?
  • Is your cat a quick learner? Don’t rush when you’re training your cat to be on a boat. Even if your furry best friend is a quick study, taking your time makes the transition from land to boat much easier. 

The Potty Issue

Training your cat to do their business on board may be tricker than home since they are used to their litter box and its familiar location. 

For successful potty training onboard, bring the litter box your cat uses at home – they will be used to the smell and will most likely have better success. As well, make sure you have a plan for waste disposal, especially if you intend to go on a multi-day trip.

What to Bring For Cats on Boats

Just as humans need supplies when going sailing, cats also require the same consideration. 

If you want to take your cat with you, you’ll need the following things:

  • Leash and harness. If you plan to explore on land as part of your trip, you will need to bring a leash. If your cat mistakenly falls into water, a harness will support its weight when you haul it out of the water.
  • Rope ladder. In the event that your feline friend tumbles off the boat, you can throw them a rope ladder to claw into and pull themselves back up onboard. 
  • Large net. This may also help rescue your cat out of the water if they go overboard. 
  • ID tag. An ID tag should have your phone number and address on it in case your cat gets lost during the trip.
  • Food and water bowls. A water bowl is always necessary, especially during hot days, but a food bowl may also be necessary if you are going out for longer than a few hours. 
  • Food. Like the humans on the boat, your pet will need a supply of food big enough to last the whole trip. Keep extra dry cat food onboard in case of emergencies.
  • Fresh water. It’s important to bring a supply of fresh water for your cat since drinking from other sources may make them sick. 
  • Sunscreen. If your cat has very short hair or bald areas – such as the area around their nose – they may require sunblock to avoid getting sunburned.
  • Rug or mat. Boat surfaces can get hot in the summer. A rug or a mat offers your cat a safe and comfortable place to lie down.

How to Keep Your Sailing Cat Safe

Safety needs to be considered when having cats on boats. Among the other safety equipment and supplies you pack for a boating trip, you should include some basic medical and safety supplies for your cat too, such as:

  • Life vest. Even if your cat knows how to swim, a lifejacket is still needed to ensure their safety.
  • Overboard plan. Just like you have an overboard rescue plan for humans, you will also need one for your cat. This may include training your cat to respond to a specific set of commands and getting them used to wearing a lifejacket.
  • Fishhooks and bait. If you plan to go fishing, make sure your hooks and bait are safely stowed so that your cat doesn’t get hurt.
  • Seasickness medication. Cats can get seasick, too. Fortunately, they can usually take the same seasick medicine that humans take for this problem. If you want to be certain, however, ask your veterinarian before heading out on the boat.
  • First aid kit. Pet first aid kits are available at most pet stores, and they include items that are specific to animals – unlike human first aid kits. If your cat is on any medication, be sure to also include that in the kit, where it will be safe.
  • Shade. Like humans, cats can be susceptible to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Ensure there is somewhere shady they can rest in extreme heat.

Finding Pet-Friendly Marinas


Although most marinas are pet-friendly, not all are, so ensure you check ahead if you’re planning to dock at different marinas during your trip. You should also familiarize yourself with their rules concerning pets. It’s simple to plan your marina stops using the internet, since most marinas will have a website that may include information about their pet policies.

At Van Isle Marina, we love pets. We understand that the boating lifestyle can mean taking your beloved animal onboard to share in your memories. 

Whether you’re looking for a permanent base or a stopover for one night, your four-legged friend is welcome at our Sidney, BC marina. Contact us today for more information about our moorage rates.