Planning a weekend escape with your four-legged friend?
You might be considering an outdoor activity, such as camping or RVing in a beautiful destination, and a visit to such an amazing place would not feel complete without your furry companion tagging along.
As much as we want to share our journeys with our pets, not all cats are suitable for the RV lifestyle. Most cats hate being in new, unfamiliar environments. Plus, being in a moving vehicle can make them anxious and sick. For most cats, the most common response to this stress is to escape the situation and run back to the place they call home. Unfortunately, it is almost always impossible for cats to find their way home if they get lost in the middle of a trip.
If leaving your furball behind is not an option for you, there are ways to prevent him from escaping the RV and keep him safe during your journey. Follow the tips below to make your long journey a smooth ride and keep your feline safe.
Can cats live in an RV?
Although most cats hate traveling, it is definitely possible for our feline friends to live in an RV, either temporarily for a short vacation or full-time.
If your cat is used to traveling with you by car, he will likely enjoy the RV experience as well. Adventurous cats will generally be fine living in your motorhome, as long as they are well-acclimatized to the new environment.
However, if your cat hates car rides and suffers from motion-sickness, then the RV life might not be suitable for him. Thankfully, though, there are some ways that might help him get used to RVing so he can enjoy your adventures with you. Be warned, though – this involves lots of time and preparation before the big day. With your patience, your cat may be able to overcome the anxiety and become your regular travel buddy.
Things to prepare before the trip
Traveling with your furry pal requires careful planning, from how you will protect your cat from the outdoors, to having a backup plan in case your preventive measures do not work. Before you head out on your camping trip, consider the following preparations:
1. Update your cat’s identity tag
No matter how careful you are, you cannot fully control your cat’s impulse to sneak out, either out of curiosity or fear of the new environment. And, if his escape is successful, his chances of finding his way home on his own are very low.
While it is true that cats are gifted with sensitive olfactory functions, this is no guarantee that they will make it home from a strange location. Furthermore, if your cat gets lost in the middle of a camping adventure, he will be exposed to several dangers such as accidents, diseases, and other animals.
For this reason, it is very important to take preventative measures before embarking on your RV adventure. That includes keeping your cat’s identity tag updated. The tag should include your name, address, pet’s name, and updated contact numbers to call you in case your lost cat is found by a kindhearted person. Unfortunately, most pets that are lost without identification end up in animal shelters.
Microchipping your cat is also a very good idea for added security. Since the chip is implanted, it becomes a permanent form of identification, unlike a collar which can easily break or wear out. Provided your information is up to date, it will be easier for you to reunite with your furry pal if he dashes out of your RV.
2. Harness and leash train your cat
RVing provides a great opportunity to bond with your furry companion outdoors. However, it can also be a chance for naturally adventurous felines to get lost.
If you want to go exploring with your cat while camping, then having him leash trained beforehand will help ensure that he stays safe beside you. The leash is a form of restraint for active cats, allowing them to explore the outside world in a controlled manner. Teaching your cat how to walk on a leash is also great physical exercise and mental simulation for your fur baby.
However, just like training a puppy, getting your cat used to his leash can take some time. Our whiskered friends are known to be independent animals, but with patience and effort on your part, having your cat leash trained is absolutely possible. Active and outdoorsy cats can quickly adapt to leash training. Moreover, if you can start while your cat is young, he is likely to accept the leash training more readily.
3. Invest in cat enclosure for your RV
Not all cats will adjust to the RV life right away. While some will enjoy their RV home from the outset, others are much happier staying in their “home sweet home”. But, for many owners who enjoy camping and vacationing in their RVs, leaving their cats behind is not an option – more so if you are a regular to this nomadic lifestyle.
If your cat is used to the indoor life, the transition from a stationary home to a motorhome can be a bit stressful and he will need your patience and time to help him get accustomed to traveling. Fortunately, there are accessories that can help with this.
An RV cat enclosure is an enclosed area that helps your furry friend enjoy your outdoor adventures while keeping him safe and restrained. If you have an indoor cat, then the RV catio is a great way to help him get acclimatized to traveling without risking getting hurt or lost.
There are many types of commercially available RV catios you can find, such as this outdoor playpen crate which is durable as well as foldable for easy transport. You can even make your own DIY RV catio if you have the time to get your hands dirty.
4. Remember to prepare his litter box
A litter box is a must-have when traveling with cats. You can build your own DIY litter box or purchase one; either way works, as long as you give your cat access whenever he needs to go.
To keep it from moving or sliding while driving on the road, we highly suggest securing the litter box to the floor. Otherwise, the movements could cause a huge mess and might freak your cat out during the trip, causing him to hate the RV experience forever.
Use a heavy-duty velcro strip to ensure that the litter box is secured in place. Using velcro will assist with easy disposal and cleaning of the litter box.
Do not forget to cover the litter box to help reduce the waste smell from spreading through your RV. Your furry feline will also appreciate the sense of privacy and security while doing his business.
Another neat way to install your cat’s private bathroom is to place his litter box under the sink or in the shower area. Most cat owners prefer to make a hole in the cabinet or door so that the cat can have access to their litter box. Some fur parents also like to cut a hole through the box’s locking lid. This way, your cat can freely come and go while also having his privacy.
5. Secure the cat’s food and water dispenser to the floor
Feeding your cat in a moving vehicle can be a little challenging. You want to ensure that he is well-nourished, at the same avoiding any mess.
Food and water dispensers offer a convenient way to feed your pet while traveling. Simply secure them to the floor to prevent them from sliding around while you are on the road. You can even use a non-skid mat as well as splash-free water bowls to keep the feeding area clean.
6. Attach a Bluetooth tracker to your cat’s collar
Our feline friends are excellent at hiding, especially when brought to unfamiliar territory. Searching for them while you are camping or hiking can be a challenging task, especially if they do not respond to your call.
With the advancement of technology, you can now easily track your cat with a Bluetooth tracker. This lightweight device is excellent at tracking your cat’s whereabouts, provided he is just lurking nearby. Simply attach it to your cat’s collar and make sure that the battery is at full capacity.
7. Know the location of the nearest animal clinic beforehand
Emergencies can happen at any time. Your cat might be healthy and fit before your trip, but suddenly become ill or get into an accident along the way. Road trips and camping expose cats to dangers that are often beyond our control, such as bee sting or wildlife encounters. Knowing the details of a nearby clinic beforehand will give your pet access to immediate veterinary care in case of emergencies.
Also, remember to bring your cat’s vaccination or vet records along, especially if it is a long-distance trip. Who knows – you might need these along the way. Being well-prepared ahead of time will keep you from panicking and might even save your pet’s life.
Tips to prevent cats from escaping
An anxious or overexcited kitty will take every opportunity to escape. Ask any cat owner who has been RVing with pets: it should be no surprise to hear stories about cats suddenly bolting out through any openings they spot. Never give your cat an opportunity to escape and get lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood; always have a backup plan and preventative measures in place to ensure his safety and well-being while RVing.
These tips will help you prevent your cat from dashing out of your motorhome:
1. Comfort your cat with familiar scents
Most cats are happy and content with a regular routine. Take them to an unfamiliar environment and they might run away out of fear. While some cats might enjoy the RV lifestyle, others will find it uncomfortable and stressful. But, if you really do not want to leave your anxious feline behind, there are ways to help him calm down and get accustomed to your mobile home.
To keep him from trying to escape, try placing his toys and other belongings inside to imprint his own scent on the new space. You can even bring your used towels or shirts, since most cats find their owners’ scents reassuring.
Another way is to use pheromone products in the form of sprays or diffusers. The pheromone scent is an excellent way to ease cats’ anxiety in stressful times. This product is a synthetic version of the actual pheromone released by cats when they are marking their territory or sending messages to other cats. That is why the presence of this familiar scent gives your kitty a sense of comfort and security.
2. Keep windows and vents closed
Most RV windows are big enough for cats to slip through and escape. So, if you are traveling with your pet, make sure that these are closed and tightly sealed, especially when you are driving. Do not leave any openings unattended; most cats are clever enough to find ways to escape.
Vents located at the top or sides of the RV roof or car roof can also be an escape route for your cat. These small openings can also be dangerous if your cat gets stuck while trying to get out. Moreover, leaving the vents open can also invite other animals to come in. For your safety, use protective barriers to cover any openings in your RV home.
3. Be mindful when opening the door
A desperate cat can easily figure out a way to escape. Do not give him this opportunity by carelessly opening your door when entering or leaving the RV. Be mindful whenever you open the door. Start by peeking inside to check on your cat or just step in a bit without fully opening the door. Keep in mind that cats are natural sprinters – if they can catch prey, they are quick enough to dash out when they see an opportunity.
4. Keep your furry companion entertained
Another great method to keep your cat distracted and happy is to make your RV fun and interesting for him. Keeping them busy and entertained inside will eventually make him forget his escape plan.
There are many creative ways to make your RV an exciting environment for your cat. Here’s how:
- Bring some of your cat’s favorite toys, such as rattles or other moving toys that he can chase. Playing softball inside is also a fun way to bond with your cat.
- Place a small cat tree or scratching post to keep his eyes off your furniture.
- Arrange some safe hiding spots for your cat. You can purchase commercially available cat houses or trees, or make your own DIY cat hideout using cardboard boxes. Either way, your furry pal is sure to love it.
- Place your cat’s bed in a hidden spot. Cats love to hide, especially when they feel anxious.
- Install a window cat pouch. Curious cats love gazing at the birds and beautiful scenery outside. This space-saving cat hammock is a great way for your pet to enjoy the warmth of the sun while staying safe inside your motorhome.
How to keep your cat safe inside the RV
Finally, you can enjoy every moment with your feline companion once everything is in place. Here are some additional tips to ensure a smooth ride with your cat:
- To survive RVing with cats, turn the RV into a cat-friendly environment. Start by removing any hazardous materials or fragile objects that can cause accidents. This might include glass statues, sharp objects, or loose frames lying around the place.
- Make sure that all dangerous chemicals are safely stored and away from your cat’s reach. This includes lubricants, alcohol, gas, perfumes, aerosols, and many others.
- Whether we like it or not, cats are attracted to toilet water. They might play with – or worse, drink – the water, which is unsafe since it contains bacteria and other microbes that can cause illness. Keep the toilet seat down at all times to keep your curious kitty off the toilet.
- Since the RV can really get hot in the summer, make sure that the indoor temperature is comfortable. Open the windows (if they are secured with screens) or turn on the AC inside the RV. Keep in mind that, although our feline friends are excellent at regulating their own body heat, they are also susceptible to heat stress.
- Never leave your furbaby alone inside the RV, especially if it is his first time in the motorhome. Cats, like other domesticated animals, rely on their owners’ presence for security. Leaving them alone in an unfamiliar environment can cause their anxiety levels to shoot up.
- Keep your furry companion well-hydrated by giving him clean water sources inside the RV. You can also bring a cat fountain to encourage him to drink.
Wrapping it up
Your cat’s reliance on routine and a familiar environment is likely to make it challenging for him to adapt to the RV lifestyle. You will need lots of planning and patience beforehand if you want to get him accustomed to traveling with you.
Remember not to rush things if your furry pal needs more time to adjust! Prepare everything and take it slowly. Hopefully, your cat will soon learn to love traveling and you can enjoy a long vacation together with the rest of your family.
Image: istockphoto.com / Anetlanda