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Backstory

If you view my profile and peruse some of my recent questions, you will be able to figure out that a year ago I adopted a kitten that was quite different from what I had ever known before. He has more character, energy, and rambunctiousness than all cats I've met combined. The last year has been a unique learning experience for me.

I have had to continually seek ways to stimulate his brain and find outlets for him. My vet and her staff have helped with suggestions, as has pets.se. Some of his daily food is delivered via puzzles; mostly home-made from cardboard tubes. I've built caves out of old blankets and boxes and put things inside to explore. I bought a set of Lincoln Logs just to have safe and sanctioned destruction; my towers used to last mere hours, now it's up to weeks, but they all eventually fall.

Through it all, I believe the trouble-making little fuzz bucket and I have come to love each other.

Here are some other facts about my cat that may or may not be relevant.

  • He is mostly an indoor cat. I have been hesitant to let him wander due to neighborhood dogs and hawks. But I have taken him out on a harness and lead. He completely ignores barking, lawn mowers, and other noise from beyond the chain-link fences as he merrily chases insects and paws at weeds. He squirms a little when I put the harness on, but as soon as it is on, he goes straight to the back door and paws at it.
  • He has a thing with water. If I accidentally leave the toilet seat up, I will soon find water splashed all over the floors and walls of the bathroom. He likes to go into the bathtub when it is not in use and roll around. The water in his bowl is as likely to be splashed around as it is to be lapped up.
  • He is picky regarding affection. If I come to him, he will tolerate only a little tickling and does not want to be picked up. If he comes to me, he will cuddle up as tight as he can and totally give himself over to all kinds of tickling and rubbing. Then five minutes later, he will leave.

The Idea

Now that he is basically an adult, a family member said to me, "Why don't you teach him to ride in your kayak with you?" At first I dismissed the idea as absurd. Now, as the thought has germinated in my brain for a while, I am starting to consider it. As autumn is currently setting in, I am packing up and winterizing all my boat gear. But come April 2017, as the cat nears two years old, I may just see what happens. (I've seen the moturrsikling kitteh on the interwebs, so why not?) Officially, I am still undecided. I am curious what suggestions this community might provide.

I've had some ideas for experimenting with his reactions and acclimating him that I have considered.

Over winter:

  • Bringing the kayak into the house for an hour every couple weeks. Let him sniff at it and explore inside. Then sit it myself, and get him to sit with me. Put treats in it for extra motivation
  • Get a PFD for him (possibly another question) and have him wear it at the same time the kayak is inside the house.

When spring arrives:

  • Take him for walks on a lead along the shoreline, letting him see and smell the concept of "Lake."
  • Float the kayak in shallow water, put him inside with his PFD and on a lead, and wade along side, able to take him to shore immediately if anything goes wrong.

My questions

  • Should I even try it at all?
  • Any feedback or suggested changes or improvements to my own ideas?
  • What else can/should I do over the winter to prepare?
  • What else can/should I do come spring before trying a full-blown ride with him?
  • I remember seeing a whitewater kayak on the Gauley river in WV, fitted with a carpeted platform right behind the rider's back. A little terrier sat on the platform while the owner paddled through the flat parts. Then, at the top of each rapid, the owner would pull over to the shore, the dog would hop off, the owner would run the rapid, and the dog would be waiting for him, ready to hop back on the boat when the owner reached the pool at the bottom. – Solomon Slow Aug 8 '17 at 23:13
  • This question has gotten some fresh comments and votes recently, for which I am grateful. But with deep regrets, I have to just say that the cat in question passed before I could implement this plan, in May 2017. He died as he lived- fast and hard. – cobaltduck Aug 11 '17 at 1:23
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You certainly do love your cat. In requires to swimming. Cat can swim. If tipped over in your boat, she (he?) will immediately head for shore. When I was 12, we took our cat out in a rowboat a good distance from shore and put the cat in the water. He stuck out for the shoreline. Someone was there with a towel to wipe him off. He didn't seem to mind, but I don't think it was his favorite activity. Maybe you could find a doggie pool where you and the cat could get in together. Just a thought.

Keep him as an indoor cat. Besides the dangers you mention, there are also cars and mean people. An indoor cat is expected to live 15-20 years. An outdoor cat--5 years.

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