Boat Cats V

Living aboard with Boat Cats

After exploring the captivating world of famous boat cats and their tales of seafaring prowess, it’s time to set our sights on a new horizon: living aboard with our beloved furry companions. Building upon our previous explorations, join us as we navigate the ins and outs of life at sea with cats. The cats have been going out to sea for ages. Boat cats, whose main task was to hunt mice in ancient times, nowadays join the crew as companions rather than micers.

If you are considering adding a cat to your crew (or converting your cat to a boat cat) it will make your job much easier to plan ahead by considering some factors.

Getting the Boat Ready for the Cat

It doesn’t take much effort or investment to make a boat a cat-friendly living space. Adding a few simple things helps them settle in.

Our first priority was to put nets on the lifelines to reduce the possibility of the cat falling into the water (we can say that this net saved the life of the Princess, who nearly fell from the boat in a pitch black dark anchorage).

When you lock the boat and land, you can place a cat door on the cabin cover boards so that your cat can comfortably climb onto the deck and return instead of being stuffy in the warm cabin.

Boat Cats - Prenses

Cats (usually) prefer to hide in a corner of the cabin while cruising (especially in motor cruising). You can prepare a hiding corner for your cat in the boat and make it comfortable. (He will show you its location) While sailing, we recommend that you pay attention to a safe place on the leeward side where it will not fall during the roll.

Cats instinctively feel the need to sharpen their nails. For the cat to meet this need, you can place a ready-made scratching board in the cabin or make a scratching post by wrapping a hemp rope on an existing post/post in the cabin.


Although they are much more athletic and have stronger balance skills than we humans, it is almost inevitable that boat cats will fall out of the boat sooner or later. The precautions you will take by foreseeing this possibility will make life on the boat easier for you and your cat.

Some websites suggest strategies such as throwing your cat into the sea for practice, and getting your cat used to the water by swimming with a life jacket. This is not a very accurate method considering that it will both cause trauma to the cat and damage the kidneys, especially if old cats swallow sea water. Cats can swim instinctively and do not need life jacket swimming lessons.

However, in order for the cat to climb back into the boat in an emergency, I recommend hanging thick ropes, towels or carpet strips from various parts of the boat over the sea. Another practical tool for getting the cat back into the boat is a wide mouth fish scoop… Keep in mind.

Although it is not suitable for every cat (it is impossible to dress some cats), you can also wear a life jacket for your cat, especially when cruising.

Finally, preparation for the worst case… In the event of a possible abandonment of the boat, it would be a good idea to plan ahead what and how you will take your cat with you.

Boat Cats - Climber


The most common health problem associated with cats living on boats is usually seasickness. Of course, not every cat has the same reaction to the movement of the boat, some adapt very easily, while others hardly adapt at all. In our experience, after the first 2-3 cruises, the Princess was seasick only in very bad weather. Against such a situation, I recommend that you consult your veterinarian and prepare your cat’s seasickness medicine beforehand.

It is possible to reach veterinary services almost anywhere in the world for other possible health problems. Of course, if you have to take your cat to the vet, you should also have the cage, carrier and health documents ready.

Cat Food and Toilet

Again, as with other items, each cat has its own preferences regarding diet. Some cats are very picky about food and only eat certain foods. If that’s the case with you, you have no choice but to stock up on your cat’s special preference wherever you find it. 

Of course, one problem with stocking food on the boat is that when large packages of dry food are opened in the boat environment, it loses its crispness and smell in a very short time, that is, it cannot be eaten because it is worthy of your cat’s mouth. We were able to overcome this problem by storing the dry food package that we opened as a precaution in smaller portions, in vacuum containers and bags.

Fish, which is a natural food source for boat cats, is also up to your cat’s preference. While some cats like Sadun Boro’s Miço love to eat fish, some cats like our Princess may not go out for 1-2 hours when they see a whole fish.

The most practical and ideal solution to the problem of cat toilet on the boat is for your cat to use the same toilet as you. Of course, this also depends on your cat’s character. Sometimes the cat chooses to use the boat toilet on its own. In some cases, the cat can be accustomed to using a toilet bowl by using special training kits. 

Sometimes you have to give up hope and carry sand and sand boxes. Since there is always a space problem on the boat, when I searched saying “I wonder”, unfortunately, after I learned that the beach sand cannot be used no matter what, we added a minimum of 10 Kg to our boat stocks. We had to add cat litter as well.

Customs and Bureaucracy

If you do not plan to travel abroad with your cat, it is sufficient to have your cat microchip and take the vaccination certificate with you.

If you are planning to go further, you may experience great difficulties if you do not read the customs rules regarding animals of the countries you are going to and prepare the necessary documents in advance. For example, many countries require a titer certificate that shows the rabies test at the entrance of pets. This certificate can also be obtained as a result of a blood test, and its preparation can take at least 4-5 days, sometimes even longer. 

Some island countries such as Australia and Turks and Caicos may require 10-15 days quarantine processes for cats to enter the country. This, in turn, leads to situations that require you to pay quarantine fees and to wait until your cat’s quarantine is over at the port of entry. 


Boat Cats - Ginger Tabby on Deck

The Bahamas requires a Pet entry permit to be issued prior to arrival, and the process takes 2 to 6 weeks. In other words, in order to go to the Bahamas with your pet, you need to apply by mail at least 6 weeks before and get the necessary permits. In summary, each country’s customs regulations regarding pets are different and these regulations may change over time. I recommend that you do your research and preparation in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises at the customs entrance.

Gatos del Mar (Cats who Sail/Navigate)
Gatos del Mar is a group for boat cats on Facebook. Although the name of the group is in Spanish (Sea Cats), the general communication language in the group is English. The pictures from the daily lives of boat cats, problems and solutions on life with cats at sea are most common shares.



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