Tips for RVing with Cats

As of 2020, RVing has skyrocketed in popularity. More and more individuals, couples, and families are hitting the road than ever. Many folks are also bringing their pets along with them on the road. Most dogs are accustomed to car rides, but have you ever considered bringing your cat along for a trip? These more delicate pets require more planning and consideration then their canine counterparts. Here, Boondockers Welcome has compiled a list of the best tips to help you to get your cat acquainted with RV life so that everyone can have a better time and enjoy a better overall trip together.

1. Have a plan

Bringing any pet along on the road involves a significant amount of planning. However, this planning can be even more extensive with cats. Keep the following tips in mind for a smoother transition.

Travel Days

Most cats are not big fans of car rides. After all, most of their experiences in the car usually lead to the vet, the groomer, or a boarding facility. Part of acclimating your cat to successful travel is teaching them that car rides can sometimes lead to good things, such as fun new locations to see and smell.

Where will my cat ride during transit? 

This answer to this question heavily depends on what type of RV you are traveling with. It is not considered safe to leave your cat unaccompanied in a towable RVs, such as a fifth wheel or travel trailer. If you have a towable RV, it is highly recommended that your cat ride in a carrier in the tow vehicle with everyone else. At first, this may be a painful experience for all parties involved, but eventually, most cats tend to become accustomed to the carrier on travel days. Driving shorter distances at a time, while stopping for plenty of breaks and taking it especially slow at first should help the adjustment period to go much better.

Should my cat be in a carrier if we have a motorhome?

If you have a drivable RV, where your cat will ride will largely depend on your cat. Some cats do better having the ability to roam free, with access to their food, water, and litter box while in transit. However, others may need to be kept in a carrier for their safety. If your cat begins displaying signs of motion sickness, there are over the counter and prescribed aids for them.

Leaving your Cat Behind

What about when I leave the RV? 

When you arrive at your campground or Boondockers Welcome location, you will most likely want to get out and explore the area. Just like when you leave the house, your cat will most likely stay behind. Hopefully your cat has become acquainted with your RV, and leaving them behind won’t stress them out. Consider giving them a window to look out of, some catnip, and some of their favorite toys to reduce their overall stress. Just like dogs, cats also miss their owners when they leave. If you’re worried about your cat, consider getting a pet camera to be able to check in on them while you’re gone.

How can I make sure it’s not too hot or too cold in the RV when I leave?

Always check the weather before you leave to ensure you can take proper precautions against harsh temperatures. If the morning starts out chilly, the temperatures can easily climb much higher as the day progresses, and vice versa when the sun goes down. Consider installing a temperature monitor so you can receive an alert if the temperature strays outside of the range that you set. Additionally, heaters and air conditioners with thermostats are a huge help. Instead of keeping the heat or air conditioner running all day or night, they heating or cooling system will kick on when the temperature gets too cold or hot.

Medical Care

What if my cat needs to see a vet while on the road?

If your cat needs a regular vet checkup that coincides with your time on the road, be sure to schedule it ahead of time, depending on where you will be. Most vets will graciously transfer a copy of your cat’s records for you to the new vet. You could also consider using a chain veterinarian such as the ones found inside of PetSmart and Petco. They have locations all across the United States which can ensure you are familiar with the costs of services and procedures. Both even have care plans, which bundle all of your cat’s regularly-needed services all into monthly payments.

Wiley, @malmccrea

What if there’s an emergency?

If the worst happens and your cat needs emergency veterinarian care, take them to an emergency vet right away. If you plan to set up camp in a particular area for an extended amount of time, it can be helpful to already have a nearby emergency vet located. Although it’s unlikely that this would be necessary, this can save precious time if an emergency were to happen.

2. Choose a spot for the litter box

Start out by choosing one or two spots for a litter box and leave it there. If you are constantly moving the litter box around, it may upset your cat. Be sure to keep their litter box just as clean as you keep it at home, if not cleaner, to help reduce their stress. In addition, be sure to use the same type of litter and style of litter box as well. Cats can be very particular about this and will absolutely protest using their litter box if their needs are not met. Think about how clean and consistent you would want your bathroom to be if someone else were in charge of it. When starting out, it’s best to monitor your cat’s bathroom frequency to ensure they’re happy and are not experiencing any health issues due to stress.

3. Designate a spot for food and water

Another important step is to select a location for food and water. Be sure to use the same type of bowls that are used at home for your cat while on the road to help keep them comfortable. If your cat struggles with drinking water, consider getting them a fountain. These don’t pull very much electricity and can increase your cat’s overall hydration, meaning less health complications. It’s important that you monitor their food and water intake while they’re new to RVing to ensure they’re eating and drinking just like they are at home. Try not to move their food and water locations too much if possible.

4. Make your cat comfortable

Just like with anyone in the family, it’s important that your cat is comfortable. Consider bringing familiar items from home or purchasing additional ones. Comfortable beds, toys, and perches or towers can make the RV feel like a great home for your kitty. For additional stimulation, consider bringing a laser pointer along or opening the window blinds so they can birdwatch.

Cats can also be rather silly, and may forego all comforts you select and bring for them in lieu of a cardboard box or paper bag. Try to go with the flow and see what your cat enjoys to keep them happy. Some cats prefer to have a safe hiding space while they’re scared, so keep an eye out under furniture and above slideouts to ensure they stay safe.

5. Practice and take it slow

At the end of the day, it’s imperative that you give your cat time to acclimate to the RV. Consider bringing them out to the RV so they can investigate it before hitting the road. If possible, try to keep their earliest experiences as relaxed as possible. Bring a book or puzzle out to your RV and give your cat some quiet time to adjust under your supervision. 

When you’re ready for your first trip with your cat, consider an overnight stay not too far from home. Check out the Boondockers Welcome locations to see if there’s any Hosts in your nearby vicinity. This can be the perfect first trip to help ease your cat into the RV life. 

RVing with your cat is entirely possible, but it just needs some careful planning and consideration. There are hundreds of cats traveling and staying in RVs all across North America. It can be a more comfortable and economic decision to bring them along versus board them. Just like a dog, your cat misses you when you’re gone and will enjoy the adventures with their family once they’re comfortable. Next time you’re planning a trip to a Boondockers Welcome location, consider bringing your cat as well for a trip the whole family can enjoy.

Have you brought your cat RVing with you? What did you do to help get them comfortable? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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