You don’t have to leave your cat at home when you hit the road in your RV.
We have traveled for two years now with our two cats in our RV and do it on a budget. It took a little time for them to adjust but now they love it. They enjoy checking out new places we go and I think they are happier now. Don’t believe just us, I asked fellow RVers about RVing with cats and this is what they had to say:
“It is definitely work, time and patience at first but if you do it right you will have many years of worry-free travel with your kitty. Don’t think you need to be stationary to have cat love. And please don’t send kitty to a shelter because you’re plans have changed. Own up to your responsibility and find a way to make it work.”
“They adapt really well! I started FT a year ago with my two, 1 is 11 and the other is 6. I trained them on a leash for a couple months before so they could go outside with me for a bit. They were nervous at first (I was especially careful about the slide outs), I’m impressed with my troopers, they adjusted well😻”
“We travel with our cat. She needs about 15 minutes of crisis when we start moving each time, but then settles in. We try not to change anything else and give her space. She is old (15) and didn’t start traveling until she was 13, so it was an adjustment, but I’d rather travel with her than leave her somewhere.”
You are not alone! Did you know that according to Camping World there are currently 10 million RVers and 75% of them have pets?!?! By following the tips here in our ultimate guide to RVing with cats, you and your furry friend(s) will enjoy many years of exploring together in your RV.
KEEP YOUR CAT SAFE
Many people fear their cat will escape while they are camping. While this is a valid concern, there are steps you can take to prevent this from happening. The first thing you should do is microchip your cats if they are not already. This way, if you did lose them, they can at least be identified. Increasing the chance of a reunion.
A great way to make sure you can locate your cat is to attach a locator tile to their collar. This is great because the tile locator allows you to track your cats/tiles from your cell phone within 200 feet. I even read of people who have trained their cat to return when the tile is ringed!!!
Some cat owners choose to purchase a cat enclosure for use outside. These allow your cat to be outside in a safe manner without risk of running off. We personally don't use one but I have read that lots of people love them.
So you may be wondering how can I let my cats out and be safe? You need to train them to walk on a leash.
This will take some time and I will explain how to do it but first you need a Kitty Holster. We tried lots of cat harnesses and they either wiggled out, it didn't fit them correctly or they hated it. Then we found the Kitty Holster. Save yourself some time and just go ahead and start with this for your leash training.
Why would I need to leash my cats you say? If your cats are used to going outside and you are in a national park like we were when we worked at Grand Teton or anywhere else that requires it, they have to be leashed.
A couple of months before you plan to head out you need to start with leash training.
The first thing to do is get them familiar with the harness. Do this by putting the Kitty Holster and leash near their bedding and let them check in out. After a good sniff session, put the holster on your cat. I am going to go ahead and warn you that they will not like it at first, but in time that will change.
Yes, this is how our cat Hickory reacted the first time. But don't give up!
Over the next couple of weeks have your cat wear the holster several hours a day until they no longer seem to mind it. Now it is time to attach the leash and try a walk. There is a good chance you will be dragging your cat the first few times as they are not going to like it. Just be patient and eventually they will start to walk on the leash. We found that once they realized they would not be able to go out without a leash, they would go straight to it if they wanted to go out.
Keep in mind that walking a cat is not like walking a dog. “To be honest a cat walks you.” As one RVer put it “Walking her requires a lot of patience, because she frequently stops to observe things for a while. I’ve come to see it as a meditative experience, moving slowly along and inspecting everything closely!” With practice you can have your cats walking on a leash ready to enjoy the great outdoors with you.
INTRODUCING YOUR CAT TO THE RV
The next step is to get them used to your RV. Most cats don’t like new things or spaces so before you head out on a trip you need to get your cat used to your rig. We introduced the cats to the RV months before we hit the road. You need to hang out with them for a couple of hours in the rig for many days. We feed them their favorite food in the RV, played with their favorite toys and just hang out allowing them time to get used to the new space.
The idea is for your cat to see your RV as a cool place to be before you start moving. Cats like to tackle one thing at a time. Please do not just pack your cat in the RV and take off. Neither one of you will be happy in this case. Just hang out, don’t go anywhere and take it slow until they are obviously comfortable.
It might be helpful to take your cat for a ride in your car a few times if they are not used to riding around. This will get them used to the motion of a moving vehicle before you set off in your RV with your cat.
Cats really can adapt you just need to work at it. Be sure and reward them with treats along the way to make all of this easier.
MAKING THE RV HOME
Now that your cat is leash trained and used to your RV you are going to want to make it a welcoming home for them. I recommend a cat hammock. Both of our cats love it!
We placed several cat beds throughout the RV so they knew they belonged. This is a great one if you have two cats and not a lot of space. We also recommend a place for kitty to go hide should they become scared.
The dreaded litter...One of the biggest challenges to RVing with a cat is where to put the litter box! Some RVers put it in the shower; some designate a cabinet for the box and add a kitty door. Some cut a hole in the floor to a storage compartment. It could go in a corner of the bedroom or in the closet. We keep ours in the shower while using a high sided box like this. Many people I spoke with who travel with cats recommend a top entry box like this to reduce litter tracking but both of our cats are old and have issues with their back legs so this one wouldn't work for us.
Other RVers that have more room than us like the double use of having a litter box that can be out in the open and double as a table like these.
The main thing is to clean it often to prevent the smell from taking over your whole RV. We scoop into a reused shopping bag and then store it outside until we can throw it away.
TIP-When you set up the litter box in your RV, put some litter from their box from home (if not the same) with their scent. Kinda gross but other RVers say it works.
SHOTS AND PAPERS
If you plan to travel across borders, be sure and have all of your shots current and your paperwork handy. You may be asked to show this depending on how they feel that day. You will also want your pets records should they become sick and you need to visit a vet along the way.
HITTING THE ROAD
When we first set out, the cats meowed up a storm for the first couple of hours. I will admit it was hard to hear. I wish then about calming spray and calming collars. Many of the RVers I heard from who travel with cats swear by the stuff.
Now when we travel one cat runs to Wade’s lap and the other lays on the floor between us.
TIP-If you are still having trouble with your cat then maybe a thunder/anxiety jacket will help.
I asked other RVers who travel with cats if they had any special tips and this is what they had to say:
If you have a cat that is a flight risk, make sure you have them secure before anyone opens a door. I lost a cat when camping like that.
Make a nice little nest for them, my cat has a quiet little place in the bedroom where he can sleep and chill out that is all his own, I draped part of the bedspread down and it's his little sleepy hideaway, as well as the bed too.
The biggest tip is that you have to remember that the cats won’t chip in on the cost and they refuse to do any housework. They will offer to help drive, but don’t let them. Cats are terrible drivers.
Lint rollers...lots of them.
Be patient. Cats make great travelers!
Watch out when closing the slides. You don't want your cat to get hurt while RVing with you!
CATS VS DOGS
There are advantages to traveling in an RV with a cat instead of a dog. One is not having to take a cat on a walk to go to the bathroom. And cats do not bark bothering your neighbors when you are away! And we have never had to pay a pet fee at an RV park. We just keep them inside the short time we are there as they typically don’t get antse until we’ve been stationary for more than a day or two.
If you are still having trouble check out 'The Trainable Cat'. Basically cats are motivated completely differently than dogs, so people don’t think they can’t be trained, but they can be!
It took only a short while for our cats to get used to RV life but now they know it as there home. They now love checking out new places! We have no worries about them and let them roam free when safely boondocking. They stay within a close perimeter that increases over time, although usually it’s just hanging out under the RV to get outside and keep watch for a while.
You know your cat best. Some cats can be trusted with freedom and some can’t so always use your best judgement and you too will soon be traveling together like the millions of other RV pet owners.
See you can travel with cats!!!! Don’t leave your fur babies home.
Follow these tips in the ultimate guide to RVing with a cat and you will be enjoying life in the RV with your cat in no time!
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