We hit the road when our cat, Tiskies, was 10 years old, and her health and happiness have always been our first priority. Our initial goal of full-time RV life was eight months to see all lower 48 states.
It turns out she loves RV life! Here we are still going years later, and it’s wonderful to reflect on all of the incredible places she’s visited, the sunsets she’s seen, and the adventures she’s experienced.
Cats are naturally adaptive creatures, and with a little patience and planning, your cat can be part of the countless family memories you will make on the open road together.
12 Tips for RVing With Cats
Traveling with cats requires a bit more forethought than traveling with a dog. There are litter boxes to consider and safety concerns to address. Things are even more challenging when your adventure cat is also a senior cat.
But with some practice and preparation, you and your feline friend can also live the RV life dream. Here are some helpful tips to remember before you head down the highway with your purry passenger princess.
Schedule a Pre-Trip Vet Appointment
Before starting your journey, it’s wise to take your kitty for her regular vet visit. Tell your vet where you plan to travel so they can issue any vaccines needed for those environments.
Ask for a copy of your cat’s rabies certificate, a prescription card for any medical or special diet foods, and a clean bill of health, especially if your travels involve any international border crossings.
Cats are adaptable creatures but can take longer to adjust to RV life than most dogs. Before you sell it all and hit the road, take kitty for weekend getaways, day trips, or drives around town for the afternoon.
Ease them into the feel of a tow vehicle or a motorhome. If you can, get them used to various road conditions such as bumpy roads, windy mountains, traffic, etc. Be patient with your cat and encourage them with comforting words and love!
Research Available Pet Care Ahead of Time
Just like you’d research the nearest hospital or emergency room before a family vacation, or before moving to a new town, you should do the same for your cat. If your cat is on a special diet, ensure you know where to get their food locally or if your campground allows online deliveries.
While you hope never to have to make a trip to a pet emergency hospital, it’s always best to know where one is located along your route. The last thing you’d want is to feel unprepared in an already difficult and stressful situation, such as an unplanned hospital visit.
Keep Travel Days to a Three-Hour Average
While this is always a good practice to avoid travel burnout or drowsy driving, it’s especially a good habit to have when traveling with a cat. Try as we might over the past several years, our cat refuses to drink water on travel days. With that in mind, we try to keep our travel days as short as possible.
Senior cats also sleep more than middle-aged cats, on average over 20 hours a day! Good sleep is key to good health, and cats don’t sleep as well as we’d like when going 55 mph down a bumpy highway. So plan for shorter drive days for a more enjoyable experience for your adventure cat.
Bring Their Cat Tower or Cat Tree
Cats love heights and something that smells like home. Tiskies is 15 years old and has had the same cat tower her entire life. It’s her safe spot. It’s been in every house we’ve lived in, and she knows that wherever it is, that’s home. I know a cat tree takes up a lot of valuable real estate in a small home on wheels. But if your cat’s tree is their safe and happy place, the lost space will be worth it for a far less stressed kitty.
Choose the Right Kitty Litter Box for RVing With Cats
When living in a tiny space, I recommend purchasing an enclosed litter box for privacy for your cat and to help with odor reduction. Try to use the same litter box from home, or if you’re getting a new litter box for your RV, slowly introduce it to your cat while you’re still living in your brick-and-stick house.
Place a Second Litter Box in Your Tow Vehicle
If you’re towing an RV, consider getting a portable litter box for your tow vehicle. It’ll come in handy, especially on longer travel days. You can find lightweight, portable litter boxes with zippered closures to help you avoid litter spills.
Senior cats have a higher risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can be worsened by not having access to a litter box for extended periods of time. Trust me, you want your cat to be able to use the litter box, even while driving down the highway.
Invest in a Pet Carrier
The average cat doesn’t enjoy being put in a pet carrier. Most often, the only time they’re in a carrier is when going to the vet. So, it’s often associated with a traumatic experience. To help them get used to their carrier and reassure them that it’s a safe and comfortable place, introduce them to it slowly. Place it next to their food and water bowl or next to their bed. Then, encourage them to investigate it by using toys and treats.
Ensure Easy Water Access When RVing With Cats
While cats can adapt to not having access to water for periods of time, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Tiskies has CKD (chronic kidney disease), a common disease in senior cats. Vets say that the best way to keep a cat’s kidney numbers healthy is good hydration.
While your cat may not be as eager to drink at rest stops as easily as a dog would be, it’s always best to offer them water every hour or so. It’s also smart to devise a system for them to access water in their carriers or travel pens.
Safety Comes First When RVing With Cats
Cats are naturally curious, but we don’t want curiosity to kill the cat. Safety should be your first priority when traveling with a cat. It’s important to be vigilant of your surroundings.
- If your cat is outside in an outdoor playpen, is it secured properly?
- Is there wildlife in the area, such as coyotes, bobcats, hawks, or snakes?
You never want to leave your cat unattended outside; if outside, it should always have a proper fitting harness and be on a leash.
For indoor safety, remember to keep your screen doors and windows secured. If your RV door is open, be sure the screen door is latched securely. Many newer RVs have an outside handle that can latch over the screen door to avoid the door being knocked ajar by a jumping kitty or a curious toddler.
If you leave the kitty at camp, check the weather and turn on the air conditioner, even if the weather is pleasant outside. An RV is similar to a car, where temperatures inside can quickly rise to dangerous or deadly temperatures when the windows are closed on a warm and sunny day.
Consider investing in a temperature monitoring system that uses an app on your phone so that you can monitor the temperature when away. Our rule of thumb on hot days is not to adventure more than 30 minutes from the RV when leaving our cat or dog back at camp.
Power outages at campgrounds are more common in the summer, and if the power and the air conditioning go out, we can rush back to camp in an emergency before temperatures inside turn for the worse.
Ponder the Benefits of Pet Strollers & Cat Backpacks
Who says a kitty has to miss out on all the fun? Sure, not every cat will transform into an adventure cat willing to walk on a leash or hike mountains for miles. Still, that doesn’t mean they can’t tag along on the adventures with you.
Cat backpacks and pet strollers allow your cat to safely and easily join you while on the trail or strolling down Main Street. Cat backpacks don’t require much more space than a school backpack, and the strollers fold down like a baby stroller, making for easy storage on the road.
Use Pet Furniture Covers To Keep Your RV Clean
To avoid damage to your furniture and keep your RV clean from cat fur or dirty paws, consider investing in pet furniture covers. Many pet furniture covers are removed easily for washing and can keep your RV furniture looking as clean as it did when it rolled off the lot.
Even if you don’t particularly mind pet hair in your normal residence, it can feel like the problem gets amplified when living in a small RV space. The ease of cleaning and the protection of your RV’s resale value are two major benefits of installing pet furniture covers on your RV’s sofa, dinette cushions, bed, and anywhere else your pet lies while you’re camping.
What tips do you have for traveling with your furry companions? Let us know in the comments below.