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A Typical Day Camping

Here is an outline of Kona's typical day camping:


~ Wake up, meow softly so my owner will let me out into the tent with her so I can burrow under the sleeping bag:

Sleeping kitty

~ 'Mom' gets up and puts me in the big wire pen. I use the litter box (and I've really got to go since 'mom' made me hold it all night!) and groom myself while waiting for 'mom' to get back from her walk with the dog.

Cat looking out from under sleeping bag

Good morning!

~ First exercise session on the zipline while 'mom' cleans my litter box and sets up my kennel complex. Sometimes people will play with me using a carpet mouse attached to a fishing pole (a wonderful idea--cast the mouse wherever you want and reel it in). Sometimes I also explore, chase bugs, stalk the chipmunks and blackbirds, roll in the dirt, and sun myself.

Exploring in the wilds
Exploring in the woods
Kona playing with her mouse on a log
Here I am playing with my little mouse on a log.

Kona sunning herself on a log
Sunning myself on the log

Kona taking a dirtbath

Mom interrupting my dirtbath...
~ Next I have a few bites of breakfast before the yellow jackets attack. Sometimes breakfast is bits of beef from the dog's beef ribs, but the best treat is the fresh pieces (trimmings) of smallmouth bass that they bring me after a morning fishing. I only get those once in a while, maybe once a week or so.
Breakfast morsels
Breakfast morsels of beef with a couple kitty treats for being such a good camping cat.

~ 'Mom' returns me to the kennel before they go away for the afternoon, so I take a nap and wait for 'mom' to get back from the lake.
Sleeping upside down


~ Another exercise session on the zipline while everyone relaxes. Now is the time to chase lizards and climb the trees:

Stalking the lizards
Stalking the lizards
~ Is it dinnertime yet? Nope, those pesky yellow jackets are still around. Waiting for dinner


~ Night is falling but now is the time to eat since the yellow jackets are not around much.

~ It gets really dark and quiet, and then it is time for bed. 'Mom' puts me in the tent and after cleaning myself briefly I crawl into my kennel and fall asleep until morning.

Eating dinner
Dinner tonight is a chicken wing with a side of pork (which I ate already)

My Experiences with Feeding Raw While Camping

Probably the biggest challenge while camping was the yellow jackets (to read more about yellow jackets, click here.). If Kona was given food during their active times (anytime during the day), she would instantly be swarmed and forced to retreat while the yellow jackets ate her meat (although she never got stung or bit, and neither did I when I would reach in through a "swarm" of 10 or so yellow jackets to pick up her food.). The best way to avoid this is to feed either late in the evening near or after dark when they are less active, or to purchase mosquito netting to drape over the animal's eating area. What I would have given for some mosquito netting! It may be pricey, but it is a valuable investment and is probably the best and easiest way to protect your raw-fed animals from yellow jackets as they eat. Remember that citronella candles, incense sticks, and various bug sprays can be very irritating and downright harmful to pets (particularly cats!). Never spray bug spray directly on your pet! If you do use a bug repellent on your pets, look for a pet-safe one that you can make yourself from blends of essential oils. Cats are much more sensitive to essential oils than dogs, and the same spray you make for a dog may actually be toxic for a cat! Be sure to do your research if you use any sort of spray for your pet.

Kona eating dinner

Feeding raw while camping was fairly easy. I stocked up on easy items like chicken wings, game hens (cut up into meal-sized pieces), ground turkey (some of which became homemade turkey sausage patties for the humans), pieces of beef and pork, plus organ meats like beef liver, chicken liver, beef heart, and some beef kidney. I also brought two chicken halves, one of which became our dinner after I cut out the breast bone and ribs to feed the cat with a side of organ meat, and one of which was fed gradually to Kona. When we had 'beer can chicken' for dinner one night, I made sure to set aside the chicken neck, gizzard, heart, and liver for the cat. Additionally, the camp store and the store in the nearby town (which was very small) occasionally had whole chickens or cut-up chickens available in case I ran out of food. I also had a couple cans of tuna on hand just in case I ran out of food and could not get any right away. This, however, was not necessary since I did not run out of food.

A chicken wing on a string It was my dad's idea to put Kona's breakfast on fishing line (which, in turn, was attached to a fishing pole). While messy, it did give her the opportunity to chase and "kill" her food, and was rather entertaining to watch. This sort of idea (food on a string) has been suggested as a way of enriching the lives of indoor cats that do not get to kill their own prey. "Franken-prey" on a string allows them to chase and 'kill' their food before eating it.

I kept the food initially in an ice-chest with great insulation. All the meat was frozen and packed on ice, but had started to thaw by the end of the first day because most of the meat was packaged into convenient dinner-sized portions. Cat food is much smaller than dog food, generally, so it defrosted more quickly than I would have liked. I transferred most of the meat to a bigger ice-chest my family had; the meat was placed directly on the ice so as to stay partially frozen. The organ meats and some of the other meat pieces were placed in the little refrigerator/freezer in my parents' Lance camper. This was, of course, a luxury that not everyone has! Additionally, I was able to drive home every two to three weeks to stock up on more food from my own freezer; if this was not an option I would have probably resorted to a cooler with dry ice in it, and then would have bought meat as needed at the store. Propane refrigerators are available, but they are costly, very heavy, very bulky, and can be a hassle to lug around. If you have one or have friends that have one, however, it can be an awesome luxury (same if your friends have a motor-home or a camper with a fridge/freezer!)!

There was only one instance where I chose not to feed meat because it smelled a little ripe; the dog thoroughly enjoyed this little snack, since I gave it to him instead. Other than this one instance, all of her food remained fresh and 'unripened'. As the trip went on I found that I actually had to start defrosting her meals because they were partially or totally frozen still (these were the ones in the refrigerator). I am quite sure that she also supplemented her diet with moths, crickets, beetles, and other insects. To my knowledge she never succeeded in catching a bird or a lizard.

The best part about feeding my cat her dinner was the questions I received when friends came over and said: "What is *that?*" (pointing to the cat's food).  Often I would matter-of-factly say "Oh, that's her dinner. Tonight she is having some beef heart and a chicken back." This was usually followed by a short discussion of raw feeding, and I did have a few friends that took home a brochure I had made about the benefits of a raw diet.

It definitely was a learning experience for me, but I enjoyed it immensely (as did my cat). When I arrived back home, I set up a zipline in the backyard so I could turn my cat out for supervised outdoor time each day. Even indoor cats should have the opportunity to go outdoors--it is life-enriching and healthy for them. However, I strongly advise against simply throwing the cat out the back door with hopes that it will stick around and not wander (and get hit by a car or get into cat fights or get chased by dogs, etc.). Always supervise your indoor cat when it is outside, and never leave it outside when you are not there to watch it!

Cat lounging in the dirt

I hope you enjoyed Kona's camping page! Happy trails to you and your pets, and may there be many wonderful outdoor excursions in store for you!

Mt. Shasta
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