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No, this is not another catamaran vs. monohull debate. Recently we were asked by one of our readers, Chris, to address the question “How has having a cat (feline – not multihull) changed your boating life?” Specifically he wanted to know:

  • Do you feel that you have the same freedom to spend time at shore?
  • Do you leave your hatches open for ventilation?
  • What if you go a place that you want to explore and it takes more than a day to do so?
  • What if you need to fly home?

Considering that we’ve only had our feline crew member with us since mid-June, it may be a bit premature to address the long-term implications of having a cat on board. The above questions seem simple enough though so I’ll take stab at answering them.

  • Q: Do you feel that you have the same freedom to spend time at shore?

Yes. In fact, considering that our cat sleeps the entire day, we never even really consider her when making shoreside plans.

  • Q: Do you leave your hatches open for ventilation?

Yes, we do. This is a change from before we had the cat because, regardless of how safe we felt an area was, we always dogged the hatches closed and locked the door. Now, because our cat’s litter box is outside in the cockpit (protected from the elements by our dodger and bimini), we do have to leave at least one hatch open. This is not so much for ventilation but rather to give her a way to get inside or outside of the boat. Is this a security issue? Well, conceivably, if someone was so bold as to board our boat and go snooping around, they could crawl inside the boat via that hatch. Our thinking is that if they were so bold as to try that, they could easily access the boat through some other more-forceful method too.

  • Q: What if you go a place that you want to explore and it takes more than a day to do so?

Other than our spending the night on the beach in Barbuda, this has yet to occur. We had a cat when we lived on land too though and on the occasions when we’d be gone for a day or so, we just left a large bowl of food and water available. Cats are pretty self-reliant.

  • Q: What if you need to fly home?

I guess in this situation we would need to find a friend to look after her. That is what our other cruising friends do with their pets when they leave the boat.

Some questions that Chris didn’t ask:

  • Q: Where do you get cat food?

They sell it at all the stores.

  • Q: Where do you get cat litter?

This is a bit harder to come by as I suspect that many of the local’s cats just go outside. They do sell litter here in Grenada at the larger grocery stores though.

  • Q: Does your cat scratch up the boat?

Did you notice the sexy pink claws in the above pics? Samantha is a user of Soft Claws. They prevent her from doing any damage with her sharp little appendages.

  • Q: What if she falls overboard?

When we adopted her, we were told by her previous owners that she had fallen of their catamaran on a couple of occasions. They also told us that she was able to make her way back on board via their boat’s transom steps. She has not fallen off our boat nor have we tossed her in to test this theory. When we are underway we keep her locked inside her cabin (yes, she has her own cabin). When we make a longer passage this may need to be modified but it has worked for us so far.


  1. Our good friends, Sandy and Coleman, did a page on our website about Cruising with a Cat. Give a look:

  2. What about clearing in & out of various countries Mike?

  3. Just in case you have never seen this I know some people who have used it and it works as advertised

  4. I know this is off cats, but I have come to the conclusion that Hallie my dog will not come cruising with me. I found a wonderful home for my African Gray and that was tough to give her up…..Hallie will break my heart, but I have some great options……I always said I would not get another pet and I have never had a kitty (animal kind)…..As hard as it will be to live without a pet, that is the route I am taking for Freedom! See if that is true in 5 years.


    • As you know we left our big German Shepherd behind when we set sail. That was the toughest thing for us to do when leaving but it was absolutely for the best. He is now as happy as ever with his new family and we get to see nice pics of him on Facebook. There were far too many things for us to focus on during our initial trip south. Neither he nor the two of us would have fared well had we tried to include him.

  5. This was something I really wanted to know, as I love animals. Cats are self sufficient, don’t need to be taken to land for walks and easier to have in a smaller space. I’m just waiting until you start cruising again and can tell me more about clearing customs.

    • I think we will come to see that cruising with a cat is a non-issue in the Caribbean. Many of our friends don’t even mention to the customs guys that they have one as the cat never goes ashore.

  6. And one other item Mike, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to you and Rebecca from Saskatoon. Just finished a fantastic Turkey dinner. Such a great world we live in! Thanks for sharing the Caribbean with us on a daily basis.

    • You’re welcome, and Happy Thanksgiving to you too. We’ll be enjoying our turkey dinner with a bunch of other cruisers tomorrow afternoon.

  7. We’ve had a cat on board for the last 10 years and have never had a problem going in or out of a country in the Caribbean. We always put it on the forms that we have a cat, but they just don’t seem to care.

  8. Do you see very many cruisers with a dog? I am a dog lover and never have owned a cat and just curious if having a dog is feasible for this lifestyle.

    • We know MANY people who cruise with dogs. and they get along just fine. Although we love dogs, it’s a bit too much commitment for us.

  9. We cruise with our two cats on the boat. They are great company and way easier to deal with than when we had a German Shepherd aboard as well. Wouldn’t be without them.

  10. I had seen (some blog some where) where they brought their lab along, but it was miserable in the hot mexican summer and has skin issues until they took it back North. Have you seen this as a pet issue?

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