5 Lifejacketed Cats and a Woofie Enjoy Island Vacation


It’s a rare person who’d be brave enough to consider taking 5 or 6 cats and a dog on a road trip vacation. Even rarer? Finding a hubby who’d go along with it.

My friend Riley, who lives in Sweden, recently got back from an island vacation with her hubby, 5 cats and a dog. Because the troupe of cats would be traveling part of the way by ferry, she purchased five life jackets for them (one seasick-prone member of the family stayed home), and sent me photos of their adventure.

Having just purchased a life jacket for the Summer Intern who is taking swimming lessons, the idea of life jackets for cats was not all that loony to me. Riley said that right after she’d booked accommodations, she’d had a nightmare of all the cats drowning while on the ferry, so she stocked up on life jackets the next day.

cat wearing life jacket
At 16 years old, Wally is very proud of his very first life vest.

It’s hard to imagine traveling with six cats, a dog and a couple of guinea pigs, but Riley and her husband do so regularly.

“We have 6 cats between 3 & 16 years old, 2 of whom were formerly wild (Wally & Cornelius), and 2 who were just homeless (Mr Margit & Mathilda); while the other 2 are siblings (Hejmer & Greta), but 50 weeks apart, whom we’ve had since they were wee, little things.

“We travel with the kitties and Stella, the lone doggy, several times a year, all over Sweden and even once took a 3 week road trip through Norway, with 2 guinea pigs as well, I might add. We would love to go through Europe, but then they’d each need a very expensive passport, so we’ve decided that Sweden & Norway are big enough for the family adventures.

We have a great big, old military bus that Henrik made into an RV, so there’s plenty of room for everyone on the road trips, but sometimes we’ll just drive to a place that allows pets, like this island.

Cabins and “summer houses” are incredibly cheap to rent in Sweden, the only problem is finding ones that allow pets.

“The longest trips were the 3 weeks in Norway and 3-1/2 weeks in Skåne, but usually we’re only gone a week or two. (Well technically, the longest as in farthest trip was when we moved back and forth with the cats between America and Europe a few times before we settled down, but that certainly doesn’t count as vacation.)

Greta and Hejmer
Greta and Hejmer

“They’ve been on countless ferries, but never any smaller boats. The trip to the island took about 20 minutes, after a 1.5 hour drive to the meeting point. To be honest, it hadn’t occurred to me to get the cats life vests, but after I had a nightmare that our boat sank, we went straight to the pet store & loaded up. Now that we have these vests we’re going to start going on a lot more island trips.”

I asked Riley how they prepare for the trips, and if she had any tips for cats preparing for road trips.

“We’re really lucky to have such a mellow group of cats, so traveling is pretty easy, but we have a few things we regularly do such as:

1. Bring out the kitty carriers a few days in advance if we’re going by car so they’re not surprised

2. Poor Wally started getting carsick one day a few years ago, so now we withhold everybody’s food for 4-5 hours before we go, and the easiest way to do that is to get ready the night before, and then get up early so they aren’t hungry before we leave.

3. If we’re going in the bus then we’ll try to spend the first night at home, but really, they’re all pretty relaxed about it now, so that doesn’t always happen anymore.

4. Cover all the surfaces (including the luggage) with sheets for easy clean up, as well as furminate everybody.

5. Bring lots of kitty beds (as well as doggie beds & blankies for Stella) so that they can always find a comfortable spot that’s familiar no matter where we end up.

6. Bring harnesses so the three who are used to being outside can still go for a walk. However, we now go to one place up in Hälsingland so often that they and we are comfortable with them going outside for their own private adventures.

That is actually a great reason to find a place everyone likes and just keep going back. Or go to an island where they can’t really get into much trouble. Mr Margit had so much fun there without any evil neighbor kitties that he wanted to sleep in his basket on the porch, unlike at home where he always wants to come in at night.

7. Our best solution yet: instead of a traditional cat box, we use clear plastic storage containers that are about 15 inches x 30 inches and about 12 inches high, and they have a lid! Which makes carrying them back and forth so much nicer, and we can control which one gets used in the car & can stack the others. We usually have 2-3 with us. The only sand that gets spread around is what gets caught in their little paws as opposed to what their enthusiasm allows for.

8. And make sure the paper towels are easily accessible in the car. We learned that one the hard way 🙂


So, who’s game for a road trip????

3 thoughts on “5 Lifejacketed Cats and a Woofie Enjoy Island Vacation

  1. What a great story. Mom says she can’t imagine taking even one of us on vacation, much less all eight of us. Glad the kitties got life vests. An ounce of prevention… Hope they all have many more exciting adventures together. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

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