When living on the road it is important to surround yourself with people and things that bring you joy. But, what do you do when your number one joy is your furry feline companion?
Cats are known to be creatures that live by their own rules.
In this post, I’ll go over RVing with cats. I’ll tell you everything you need to know before you leave so that you won’t have any surprises while you’re out on the road.
Here are essential and helpful tips to help keep your cat – and their nine lives – safe while traveling on the road!
1) Your Cat Can’t Deal with the Heat as Well as You Can
Cats run hotter than human beings. In fact, cats have an internal temperature of about 101 or 102 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that cats are already hotter than humans.
Also, cats can’t sweat like humans.
Cats cool themselves by panting which isn’t nearly as efficient as sweating. And, on top of all of this, cats are covered in fur.
For these reasons, it is important that you take steps to cool your RV down. Some steps you can take are to park in the shade, park near the water, run your air conditioner and provide your cat with plenty of water to drink. If your cat has a lot of fur, you may even want to purchase them a cooling mat.
This will help lower their temperature without the need to cool the entire RV to do so.
Many cooling mats claim to be able to cool a cat by up to 7 degrees so they can make a big difference on a hot day. One rule of thumb to follow is that if you’re uncomfortably hot, your cat is probably even more so.
2) Cold Temperatures Can Kill Outdoor Cats Too
Just because your cat’s body temperature runs hot and he/she is covered in fur, doesn’t mean they can’t get too cold. Cats don’t have a lot of body mass and they generally don’t move around as much as a human being does during the day.
According to Texas A&M’s University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit are generally unsafe for most cats.
This is especially true for older cats, indoor-only cats, and cats that do not have a lot of furs.
For most people, the cold won’t really be an issue unless you do a lot of winter RVing. If you do RV in the winter, however, you’ll need to make sure that your RV’s heater is running while you’re away from home and that you have a backup plan should it fail while you’re away.
Remember not all campers are insulated for the winter weather so an RV that loses its heat can become cold very quickly.
For more information on this, check out the post titled, “How and How Well Are Campers Insulated“.
3) Spilled Bowls of Water Can Damage Your Floor
Unfortunately, it is easy to forget that you’ve left your cat’s water bowl on the floor before heading out. This water bowl might spill over before you’ve even had a chance to leave your campground.
Over the next few hours, this water is moving around and sinking into the wood beneath the floor of your RV. Do this just once and you may end up with mold and mildew in your RV.
This is unhealthy and a threat to your RV’s flooring but it can usually be fixed pretty easily.
Do this a few times without giving the flooring a chance to dry out properly and you could actually damage the flooring. At this point, you have to replace floorboards which means you’ll have to tear up part of the floor.
If the damage extends far enough, you may end up having to work around the walls and even take out appliances to make your repairs.
This is a lot of work over a spilled cat bowl.
To avoid issues like this, get a spill-proof bowl that is unlikely to tip over even if you forget to move it before heading out. In fact, you might want to get this bowl just to keep you and your cat from accidentally kicking over the bowl while your camping.
4) Emergency Vets Aren’t Always Easy to Find
Growing up near a large city, I never realized how convenient everything was until I moved. Once you’re out in a rural area it can be difficult, if not impossible to find businesses that were once a stone’s throw away from home.
The same holds true for veterinary services.
When you’re in a city or large suburban area you have many emergency vets to choose from.
However, many great camping spots are far away from largely populated areas and finding a vet isn’t always easy.
Before you head out on your trip, find out where the local vets are and know what to do and where to go should an emergency arise.
Knowing where to go and who to call to get help while on your trip will eliminate some of the stresses of traveling and may even end up saving your cat’s life.
5) Cats Get Car Sick
It is common for cats to get motion sickness while traveling. According to VCA Hospitals, motion sickness in cats is, “caused primarily by the stress and anxiety associated with travel”. It may be a lot of work, but luckily, cats can be trained not to get car sick.
The way you do this is through a process of desensitization. Basically, you make the cat more comfortable with traveling so that they do not get anxious.
Here is a strategy that many cat owners use to get their cats comfortable with RV travel.
- First, create a safe home in your RV before you head out and get your cat used to being there. For example, you might bring your cat into the RV with his/her carrier for the night while the RV is parked. This gives your cat some time to get familiar with the RV.
- Next, you’ll want to take short trips so that your cat can get used to the motion of the RV. Once your cat can complete short trips without getting sick, you can upgrade them to longer trips.
- At this point, you’re probably wondering how you will know if your cat is getting car sick.
Here are some signs that may give you a clue.
- Your cat is vomiting or going to the bathroom inside the RV.
- Your cat is excessively drooling.
- Your cat is meowing loudly.
- Your cat is unusually restless.
If you notice any of these signs, you’ll probably want to pull over and try to make your cat more comfortable before continuing with your journey.
6) Screen Doors Can’t Hold Cats
Some cats never want to leave home, while other cats seem to be escape artists.
If your cat likes to roam at all, you need to recognize that screen doors and windows will not keep them in.
Also, screen doors can’t keep other animals out either.
For these reasons, you’ll want to put protective barriers over any screen doors or windows you leave open. This is true whether your away from your RV or inside with your cat. The reason for this is that it only takes a second for a cat to get through a screen door and even if you’re nearby, you may not be able to stop them in time.
Once they’re outside, they’ll be in a new and unfamiliar territory which may or may not have dangerous animals nearby.
So how do you protect your screens from your cat? One way to do this is to replace the screen with a pet-proof screen. This will maintain the air flow that the screen provides while making it so that your cat cannot get through it easily. Another way is to put a screen guard in front of the screen.
A screen door guard will go in front of your screen and it will also allow air to still move freely through the screen.
7) You Need a Cat Carrier
A cat carrier will help to reduce your cat’s anxiety while traveling.
It will also make it easier for you to safely transport your cat from your home to your RV and vice versa. However, these aren’t the real reasons you need a cat carrier.
You need a cat carrier because many RV parks and pet-friendly hotels will insist that you have one. While you might not be planning on staying in a hotel while on your trip, you never know what could happen and you might just have to one night.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’ll be able to safely and legally take your cat into your hotel room?
If you’re buying a cat carrier, make sure the cat carrier is a hard-sided cat carrier. Many hotels will insist that your carrier is hard-sided and it is safer for your cat anyway.
8) Your Cat Carrier Should Be Secured
Vets recommend that you secure your cat’s carrier with a seatbelt. If you’re driving a tow vehicle, this won’t be difficult to do.
However, you may not have extra seatbelts within your motorhome to use. If this is the case, you may want to create a space in the back of the motorhome that will secure your cat’s crate so that it will not move around while you’re driving.
Also, leave your cat alone in a cat carrier in a camper while driving.
You may think that the cat carrier is secure and that your cat is safe, but how would you know for sure. If you’re towing a camper with another vehicle, your cat should always be with you.
9) You’ll Need a Cat Leash
Most campgrounds will not allow you to let your cat roam freely. If you ever plan to bring your cat outside, you’ll need to have him or her in a cat carrier or on a leash.
Bring a leash and you’ll be able to take your cat out to get some exercise while you’re out on the road.
Also, while you’re setting up camp, you can attach your cat’s leash to your RV. This gives your cat the opportunity to spend time outside with you while you get your campsite ready.
10) It’s Harder to Cross Borders with Cats
Every country has its own rules about entering and leaving their country with a pet. Unfortunately, just because you can leave a country with your cat, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get back into the country with your cat.
Always be sure to find out what the rules are for both countries before leaving so that you do not end up stuck at the border.
Also, consider bringing all of your cat’s veterinary paperwork with you and make sure they are up-to-date with their vaccinations.
Different countries may have different rules so you may want to check with the country as well as your vet so that you know what you need to do to keep your cat safe.
11) You’ll Need to Pack Extra Food and Water
Obviously, you need to bring food and water for your cat but do you know how much food and water you need to bring? The amount can vary from cat to cat but there are a few standards that you can go by to help you out.
Experts agree that most cats need to eat between 24 to 35 calories a day per pound of bodyweight to maintain their current weight.
As far as water goes, they’ll need to drink a little less than an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight each day.
12) Cat Food Needs Protection from Bears Too
While we’re talking about food, you should know that bears will eat cat food just as readily as they’ll eat food intended for humans. If there are local restrictions on how and where to store your food, you should apply these to your cat’s food as well.
For example, if there are food lockers for protection against bears, place your cat’s food in them.
Bears aren’t the only animals you have to worry about either. Mice and other small animals might decide to steal your cat’s food as well. This is especially true if your RVing in a tent camper.
Keep your cat’s food safely stored when they’re not eating and you won’t have this problem.
If you’re not in bear country, securing your cat’s food is simple. Place your dry food in containers that can’t easily be chewed through. Metal cans and thick buckets will usually do the trick. I’ve even seen some people use decorative metal cans that they can place at their doorstep.
This saves them space in their RV and protects their cat’s food at the same time.
13) Not All Campsites Are Pet-Friendly
While many cat owners would like to take their cats with them everywhere, it just isn’t always possible. Some state and national parks, as well as campgrounds, will have pet prohibitions.
Often, these prohibitions are in place for the safety of the local wildlife as well as your cat.
To find out whether or not your campsite is pet-friendly, just give them a call and ask. If the campsite is not pet-friendly, try to find a new one nearby that is or just leave your cat at home. While you may be tempted to bring your cat anyway, this is a bad idea as your cat could always get out and you could suffer a large fine when he or she does.
14) Your RV is Going to Get Dirty Quicker
The addition of some extra hair and pet dander might not be a big deal in a large house. This is especially true if you clean and vacuum regularly at home.
The litter box might not be a big deal either.
This box might be out of the way and it has plenty of airflows to keep it from smelling bad.
However, in an RV the extra hair and pet dander add up quickly. On top of this, litter boxes can begin to smell as soon as your cat uses them.
If you bring your cat RVing with you, be prepared to have to clean your RV more often and don’t be surprised if you have to empty your cat’s litter box multiple times throughout the day.
My suggestion would be to bring extra cat litter to make up for the additional litter box changes and bring a small vacuum to help with the extra cleaning you’ll be doing. If at all possible, try to take your cat outside each day so that you can run a brush through his or her fur.
This will help cut down on shedding as you’ll be able to remove much of the hair while you’re outside.
15) Be Consistent And Clear
Cats crave the comforts of home that they are used to. All though, cats by nature are curious, they really don’t like change. One of the best ways to help your cat adjust to traveling and camping is to try to keep things consistent.
But, how can you keep a routine and lifestyle consistent for a nocturnal creature?
There are plenty of ways.
First, you want to know what things are most important to your cat. Pay attention to their habits and comforts. This way when the time comes to hit the road, you will have a better sense of what your cat needs to be calm. It is also important to remember that a cat’s memory can reset every six months or so.
So, keep that in mind when trying to remain consistent. Here are some of the ways you can be consistent with your cat to ensure they will be on their best behavior:
16) Be Consistent About Food & Drink
One of the biggest things you cat will be accustomed to is the food they eat.
There are many reasons for switching up your cat’s food when back at home. From finding whatever is on sale that does to trying to switch your cat’s diet, making the change will sometimes happen.
However, in the case of traveling in an RV or camping – be consistent! If there is a particular type of food that you know your cat enjoys, stock up for the road!
This is a good move for two reasons.
One, you already know your cat enjoys this food brand. Two, it will remind your cat of your home which can help them to adjust to a new way of living.
17) Keep Tight Schedules (In The Beginning)
Another way to stay consistent with your cat while traveling is to try to keep their schedule the same. Remember, a schedule to a cat doesn’t mean the same things it does for a dog.
This is because cats tend to be more active at night and sleep during the day.
One way to keep the schedule in mind is when it comes to feeding time. If you have a strict feeding schedule at home for your cat, try to adapt it for the road.
If you like to give your cat two servings of dry food during the day and a can of wet food at night, do it while in the RV!
18) The Comforts From Home…
Another way to keep your cat from getting stressed out on the road is to remind them of their home. We do this all the time with humans – so, why not cats?
Kids bring their favorite stuffed animals and blankets while adults travel with photo albums and memories.
Cats, much like humans, form attachments to things in their life.
So, why shouldn’t we allow them to also bring along some comforts from home? Especially since these comforts will help them to adjust easier as well.
Here are some of the common home comforts that would be a great tool for helping your cat settle in:
Even though cats run hotter than many domestic pets, they still love the cozy comforts that they are used to at home. Cats love a soft surface that they can stretch out and sink their claws into.
Bring along your cat’s favorite comforts while traveling in an RV.
Anything from pillows to blankets to even a small fluffy cat bed can help your cat to relax while on the road. Also, it is more than just softness that will comfort your cat.
Your cat will also react to the smell of home which can help keep them cool in a new environment.
19) Scratching Pads and Posts
Cats love to kneed and scatch at things. This often comes at the disapproval of their humans. Anyone knows that having a cat means that you have to be okay with the occasional torn up blanket or chair leg.
But, did you know that cats scratch because it is in their nature?
While there are extreme measures some take in order to prevent this scratching, there is a safer and more humane way! Using scratching pads and posts can help keep your cat off the chair leg.
One way to help keep your cat comfortable in their new traveling life is to make sure your RV and camping set-up has plenty of scratching pads.
This will not only help to keep them from tearing up the interior of your RV but will also bring them comfort. If you are having trouble getting your cat to keep the scratching to the pads, try adding a sprinkle of catnip. This way they can always find the scratching pad by the sense of smell alone!
20) Keep Them Active
Cats, like most domesticated animals, need to be able to have a certain sense of freedom. However, cats are not like dogs in the sense that they will stay put. So, how can you make sure that your cat is remaining active without putting them in danger?
There are a few conventional – and not so conventional ways – to keep your furry little feline active while camping or traveling in an RV.
The more active your cat will be, the more they will enjoy themselves. Also, this can help to increase mood which can keep them from acting out. Here are a couple of things you should try to keep your cat up and moving while on the road:
21) Plenty Of Toys
Anyone who has a cat knows that absolute pleasure that cats get out of playing with the same thing over and over. They can spend hours wrestling with a piece of plastic. This is how cats are able to remain so youthful and full of life and energy. But, there are some newer toys on the market that are specifically designed to get even the oldest of cats active again.
These automatic toys can not only bring your cat some joy but will get them off of the bed and moving around. While nothing can replace one on one time with your cat, you can’t be expected to entertain them round the clock. There are toys that use battery power to hold your cat’s attention. People are surprised when even their older cats jump and play with a youthful spirit.
22) Playmates Are Important
The only thing better than one cuddly cat is two!
There are plenty of studies that show that cats who live with other cats are more youthful. This can also help to remedy some of the behavior issues that your cat may have with living on the road.
This is often a great solution for older cats. People who have had their cats for an extended period of time know that there is often a drop in activity as time goes on. Making sudden life changes like living on the road in an RV can some times exasperate this.
A great way to reignite that playful spirit is to introduce some fresh blood. Sometimes it is as simple as your cat is just lonely. Having a partner in crime while camping or living on the road can help to ease some of this anxiety for your fluffy friend.
3 Ways To Keep Your Cat Safe Around The RV
One of the biggest concerns people have about traveling with their cat is how to keep them safe.
Cats have a natural curiosity for the world that can often send them into a tailspin.
We have all been there. One minute your cat is content with cuddling on the coach and the next they are off chasing a piece of paper.
So, how can you be expected to keep your wild kitten from chasing every bug and leaf that they encounter? The truth is, you can’t. Cats have their own sense of adventure and are stubborn by nature. There is no way to keep your cat from chasing every curiosity that comes their way.
However, there is a difference between keeping them safe and controlling them. This way you can still let your cat be a cat, but will have some peace of mind. Especially when it comes to keeping your cat away from dangers.
Here are some ways to keep them safe while camping or traveling in an RV:
23) Leashing Is More Important
Seeing a cat on a leash is a funny thing. This is because we don’t see cats as an animal that needs control. Cats are independent and self-reliable. Cats will always find a way to take care of themselves. However, putting your cat on a leash is not a form of control – but one of safety!
Make sure to take it slow and steady, especially if it is your first attempt to leash your cat. The cat’s first instinct will be to fight it off, so make sure to protect your skin for clawing and scratching. The most important thing to remember is that you are in charge. Try not to pull or tug at your cat, let their curiosity lead the way!
24) Cat Tents Can Work Great
Did you know that cat tents exist? These small pop-up tents offer ventilation and a view for your fluffy friend. These tents are ripping and tear proof so that you don’t have to worry about your cat clawing their way through. This is a great solution for camping when you don’t want to keep your cat caged up all night. Your cat will love the little bit of independence as well as the fresh breezy air!
25) Cat Carriers Are A Must
One thing you should not be without when traveling with a cat is your cat carrier.
It is important to remember that this a measure to keep your cat safe, not a punishment. This way you always have a safe place to keep your cat when needed. Also, sometimes a cat just needs a time out.
There is peace in knowing that your cat is safe and the best way to do this is to bring along their favorite carrier.
We also have some great tips here about RVing with dogs. Most of these tips also apply to cats!
If you’ve been considering bringing your cat RVing with you, you probably should. A lot of people have a great experience RVing with cats and you will too.
Just keep in mind that bringing your cat along will create extra work for you and that not all cats do well with travel.
There is a common thought that cats are not suited for traveling. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cats are amazing companions and they would love to explore the world you. This is because of their natural sense of adventure.
However, in order to ensure the best experience for both you and your cat, you need to prepare.
Make sure to bring along all of their favorite things as well essentials you will need to keep them safe. So, don’t be afraid to let your cat live the life you love to live in. What a better way to build a stronger friendship than to seek adventure together. Take care.
Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.