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post #1 of 18 Old 07-21-2006 Thread Starter
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Pets and Sailing

Hi there, I just started sailing with my boyfriend and he's got a 26ft Hunter. We're planning a 2week trip but I have a Bengal Leopard cat (15lbs) that I would like to bring along. I have purchased a life jacket for him and was wondering what else should I do to keep him safe. His temperament is more like a dog than a cat (he keeps well on lead) ergo the life jacket. Some one has mentioned netting that can go around the boat on the stanchions. Any recommendations? Please.
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post #2 of 18 Old 07-21-2006
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Depends a bit on where you'll be sailing. Tied up to a dock every night? If so, you'd want to do something to keep him from wandering off the boat. If anchoring out, then that's not so much of a problem.

Have you thought about where to put a litter box? Or even how well the cat will do on the boat? If you were spending major time on the boat, then you could do some things to make it more cat friendly. For just 2 weeks though, you might want to consider not taking the cat.

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post #3 of 18 Old 07-21-2006
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Consider keeping him on a six foot tether while on deck, especially if seas become rough, or if heeling excessively. Is he litterbox trained, or are you planning on decktraining him? We use puppy pads, with a grass scent, on deck for our 15 lb dog if offshore for several hours and it works very well.

This might be too stereotypical, but how well do you think your 15 lb cat will take to being on the water for 2 weeks? Unless conditioned to be a housecat, I would be concerned about potential seasickness and reactions to being confined for so long - if offshore for long periods. It would be wise to test the waters with a couple shakedown cruises first. If he shows bad temperment while onboard, it may be best to find someone ashore to watch him.

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post #4 of 18 Old 07-21-2006
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Cruising with pets

My family and I have been cruising/sailing with dogs for about 10 years now. They are enjoyable, but here are a few thoughts: 1) We bought the netting for the boat and have never put it up on any of our 4 boats. I have heard they can get the sails caught up in them... but quite candidaly, we don't see the point. Our rules are (pets included) when we are underway, no kids or pets forward. At anchor or marina, go prettymuch wherever. Definitely go for the life jackets!!! They work. I cannot tell you how many times scooter has fallen in accidentally. It makes it easy to retieve them and saves your body too (from claws). Not sure where you will be sailing, but also watch out for them to get too hot. We sail Texas and Florida and are often doucing Scooter with water to keep him cool. You also need to remember about pottying... don't know about cat's but dogs need to go on the beach (b/c they ARE NOT going on my boat)!!!!

Pets and kids are awesome on a boat and great companions. After a few trips, your cat will love it.
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post #5 of 18 Old 07-21-2006
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Oh yes, and one last thougth: If you are going to another country (Bahamas) etc., check the regs... Bahamas aren't as big of a problem but other countries have "unusual" rules.
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post #6 of 18 Old 07-21-2006
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Definitely DO shakedown cruises first to see how well your cat does...and decide why you want to take the cat...is it for you or for the cat? Don't put him through two weeks of misery if he hates the shakedowns just because you would miss him otherwise.
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post #7 of 18 Old 07-21-2006 Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks for all the really great comments. In response to some of questions.
He has been on the water before in my fathers fishing boat (20 ft aluminum) for hours on end (poor cat didn't realize that I love to fish...) and he's really relaxed. The Bengal is a water cat, and I have gone swimming with him (look ma, no scratches).

I will definitely use the rule no one forward when underway, that makes complete sense to me, and I like the idea of a 6ft lead. We are going to take him out for an overnighter this weekend, to see how he does on a sailboat ,another great plan. We will mostly be anchoring, as we are sailing in the San Juans and Gulf Islands.

He is litter box trained really well, I even have to bring it camping with me.
I guess I don't have to buy the netting for the sides now, thanks for saving me $4/foot.
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post #8 of 18 Old 07-21-2006
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The 6 foot lead

Not sure I would totally agree on putting a lead on the pet. I use a jackline/tether out at sea, but realize the inherent dangers of falling overboard. There have been many reports of grown men drowning (being drug by the boat) before they could get them back on board. Don't get me wrong, I still wear it, but take the chance I can pull myself back up or get noticed before catastrophy. A dog or cat cannot (especially on the freeboard on your hunter).

I would rather them fall off in the water and do a "cat/dog overboard" and turn around then take the chance that the water rushing by would either drown them or pull their lifejacket off. If their jacket comes off, you really will be tested to get back to them in time.

That being said: my experience is with dogs, not cats. I do not pretend to be an expert... just my opinion and why. But I will say, you can pull the jackets off of a dog when they are wet. I bet you can really pull it off a cat.
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post #9 of 18 Old 07-21-2006 Thread Starter
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6 foot lead

Thanks for your thoughts Cruisingdad. I was thinking of the lead maybe more while at anchor and if the boat is heaving. Someone else mentioned about the dragging thing and as Maestro has been around for only 9 years, I'm hoping to have him another 9 yet. Mind you, if I make it 5 feet as its 3 feet to the side and we have 3ft of free board then only his bottom will get wet..-just kidding.

I have posted this because I care about my cat and I do not wish to lose him. He's a real love bug and very tolerant of me and my foibles. I asked everyone just to get a sounder of what's available to me and what experiences people have had in regards to this issue. I would hate to do something without at least doing my research to make it as safe as possible for him.

Thanks to everyone who replied back to me.
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post #10 of 18 Old 07-21-2006
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places like PetSmart sell harnesses for dogs & cats - one strap goes around the neck, one behind the front paws, a "handle" on the back and a belly strap. You can lift the animal to safety by his/her "handle" and he won't choke like a lead on a collar. Tigger had a jackline just like us, tied to a hardpoint in the cockpit underway, with a lead short enough that she couldn't leave the cockpit. Not falling overboard is safer than the best PFD - for people or cats.
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