Living in an RV Fulltime with Cats: A Purry Exciting Adventure

RV fulltime with cats: two cats lounging in van

You’ve been on the road in your RV before, and you have also gone on extended RV trips. Now, you are thinking of living in your mobile home full-time, but the thought of bringing your cat into the mix somehow makes you second question your decision. Depending on your pet, their needs may vary, but the basics will all be the same; food, water, a place to sleep, and some form of entertainment. However, each type of pet is different, and your cat’s needs will vary depending on your cat’s preferences and temperament. Knowing these factors will make it a blast to spend time with your cat while you are living on the road.

1. Get to Know Your Cat: Indoorsy or Outdoorsy?

Cats who prefer to stay indoors rather than roam the outdoors are home bodied and will often be seen lounging in a sunny area around your RV. These cats are often easily trained to love living in an RV as soon as they have claimed your RV as a safe zone. Interestingly enough, RV travelers still prefer to take indoorsy cats for a walk because they feel that their cat is not getting the full RV living experience if they don’t go outside. Unfortunately, they are a bit tricky to train walking on a leash.

On the other hand, outdoorsy cats are “the dashers.” They are the type of cats who can’t get enough of the outdoors. They often dash out the door the minute they see the opportunity. Unfortunately, they are the type of cats who often gets lost. Their love of the outdoors can also translate to being uncomfortable being on a leash.

Now, there are also cats who are a little bit of both. They are perfect for RV living since they are easier to train while walking on a leash and can learn the ‘escape and recall’ move quicker. There are also the loners who are contented with just being by themselves in their preferred spot without you or another cat’s company. They may not be a good candidate for walking on a leash, but there is no harm in trying to train them.

Lastly, you have the follower who loves to follow you around the yard or on walks without needing to have a leash. They will usually just stick by your side and seldom wander far from you. Now, if you still want to leash train them, that’s okay too, as the followers will not have a hard time with the training.

2. Being On the Road With Cats: The Truth That You Should Know

Generally, cats can be difficult to travel with because they are scaredy-cats (pun intended) more often than not. The majority of cat owners who are living full-time in an RV will have a story or two of how their cats wreaked havoc in their rig or how their cats gave them a hard time during drives.

It is why cats tend to be left behind with family members or friends during RV trips or, worse, given up for adoption if the owner decides to go full-time RVing. Most cat owners have pointed out that cats who act up during travel suffer from anxiety.

Addressing your cat’s anxiety can be approached in different ways. Some cat owners would help their cats by figuring out what really triggers their cat and performing some desensitizing exercise that allows the cat to get over their anxiety problems.

Others prefer a more medical approach by giving a mild sedative to their cats before going on a trip. The second method may not be the best choice for people who are always on the road or full-time RVers. The sedatives can cause some harmful effects if taken too often.

The first option is a more hands-on approach, so it makes sense that it is more time-consuming, but this is more health-friendly. If your cat has a special bed, blanket, or toys that they love, then be sure to bring them along. It’ll help ease your cat into a more relaxed state and alleviate any anxiety they may be feeling.

Remember that most cats are not fans of a drive and can get disgruntled during trips, so it is best to put them inside their carrier or cage with their favorite things inside and then cover the cage for an added barrier. This move is the most recommended by vets since it keeps the cat, the driver, and the passengers all safe.

3. Getting Your Cats Ready for the Full-Time RV Living: The 101

Before beginning your RV adventure, it is best to let your cat get used to a moving vehicle slowly. Now, cats are scared of drives because they think you are bringing them to the vet. Since most cats have associated a journey with a vet clinic, what you can do is bring your cat with you during short drives or trips.

A great example is if you will be going out to get some take-out fast food or during visits to your parent’s house. A ride to the nearest park, coupled with some walk on a leash, is also a good idea. These short rides will slowly get your furry friend used to moving vehicles and help disassociate car travel with a vet visit.

Once your cat is used to a moving vehicle, it is time to let your cat say hello to your RV. Cats leave their scent all over the place, and this is how they mark their territory. A place that smells like them is how they tell that it is a safe place for them to be. So it makes sense to spend some time with your cat inside your RV.

Remember not to get over-excited; spend a few hours at first without the RV running, and then extend the hours spent in the RV by running the engine in the background. Eventually, you will be spending longer and longer hours in the RV without your cat getting anxious, and it will be the perfect time to go on a short trip. Just make sure to let your cat leave their scent inside your RV so that when it is time for a trip, your cat will be at ease inside.

4. Cats Are Escape Artists: Be Vigilant

You have to keep in mind that cats are great escape artists. So even though you have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that they are kept safe and out of harm’s way, there will be times when they get out unexpectedly during stopovers. 

Some cats are home bodied and just love to stay indoors, but some are dashers and are in love with the outdoors. You must address this issue immediately. There are exercises that cat owners can do to help them address these escaping tendencies.

Depending on what type of RVer you are and also your preference on how to address your cat’s anxiety, both methods do have their sets of advantages and disadvantages. Your choice is ultimately up to you and your current RV lifestyle.

5. Designate a Spot for Litter Box and Purchase the Right Carrier or Kennel

It is known that cats are safer when inside their carrier, cage, or kennel during drives. A sturdy carrier should be included in your list, especially if you own a towable and want your furry buddy inside your truck. A cage or kennel will also suffice if you own a self-contained RV. Just make sure to make them as home-like as possible for your cat (this is where the toys and blanky will come in handy).

Another tricky subject with cats being on the road full-time is where you should place their litter box. Plenty of people keeps the litter box in a hidden location within their rig. Doing this will prevent any mess and odor from happening, which you want to avoid fully since you live in a confined space.

You can place the cat litter in a cabinet with a cat door built-in or place it in outdoor storage with interior access. You can be as creative as possible when finding a place for your cat’s litter box. If you prefer a location where it doesn’t need an extra project, then your shower room is a great place for it.

These locations are great since they will keep the litter box out of the way and not take up too much floor space in your rig, and it won’t be sliding all over the place when you are on the move. If you place the litter box in your shower room, you can move it and rinse any mess that your furry cat has made.

6. Fresh Food and Water: Make Sure to Keep It In Handy

Just like dogs, cats like routine, and they like to have food as well as water ready, especially when they are in a new space. Make sure that you pack plenty of extra food and feed them at the same time you normally do. Keep fresh water ready at all times, and bring along the same food and water dishes that your cat used at home so that your cat won’t be confused.

You can bring them along for a hike on a dog-friendly trail or even a restaurant with patios if you have a dog. On the other hand, for some cats, this is possible, but most people tend to leave their ats at home whenever they go out. When you leave your cats in your rig, you will be leaving your cat behind. Most cats are alright with this, and there wouldn’t be any issues.

Whenever you leave, make sure to leave them plenty of water and control the temperature of your RV, so they don’t get too hot or too cold during the time you are away. When you are worried, plan shorter trips away from your rig and consider setting up a small camera so that you can check on your cat once in a while.

7. Medications and Medical Records: Keep Them Healthy and Happy!

Now, as you may know, not all cats are the same. They may have the same basic needs, but their essentials are not always the same. Some cats who have special medical needs will have a different set of essentials list than those who are completely healthy. As a pet owner, it is part of your responsibility to make sure that your furry friend has all their medical needs on hand, including their medications.

One tip is to search for the nearest pet supplies store where you are planning to go and order your cat’s medication in advance. You can either pick it up along the way or, if you are docking in a trailer park, then have those medications sent to that address. Usually, the park staff will receive it for you and hand it to you when you arrive; just make sure that you call the park in advance about the delivery.

Keep your pet’s registration papers in your RV as you travel. You never know when you are going to get questioned about your ownership in one of the state borders. Sometimes, proof of ownership and your pet’s latest vaccination record is asked in campgrounds. 

While you are at it, make sure that you have one or two high-quality printed out, recently taken photos of your pet together with their medical records and official papers. The images are another security level to claim your ownership of your cat if ever they performed one of their Houdini escaping acts on you.

8. Electronic Identification for Your Cats: Keep It Updated

Some RV pet owners suggest getting your pet in the clinic to get an electronic identification called a microchip. This microchip is tiny and is embedded just under the skin at the back of the neck of your pets. The chips have a unique identification number that can be detected by a scanner.

This number is recorded in a registry where your information as the owner is also available. It is an added security layer for your cat, especially if he strays during one of your stopovers. You can think of it as an upgraded version of your pet’s tags, so be sure to update your info in the registry as necessary.

9. Bring Along a Leash and Scratching Post

It may sound strange for some, but cats can be trained to walk with a leash. You can keep your cat on a leash outside with you while you and your family enjoy some outdoor activities. You can also take your cat with you during your morning walk. Having a leash on hand is essential because even if your cat is an indoorsy type, you will never know when you need a leash. Also, you don’t need to worry about leaving them behind, and they can enjoy the great outdoors.

It is recommended to invest in a scratching post or scratching board for your cat so that your furniture will not suffer. Cats have this scratching urge because it is a way for them to remove old gunk stuck on their claws and a way for them to smell their surroundings. If you don’t want to buy a scratch post or board, you can DIY some for your cat. Some use cardboards, while some use ropes wrapped around their chair leg to double as a scratch post.

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