Dogs have always been popular companions amongst RVers and Campers. At any given hour of the day, you can see all different breeds of dogs being walked by their owners at campgrounds and rv parks. In the rain, cold, blistering hot sun and in places they really shouldn’t be.
But cats are easy going and don’t require long walks getting soaked or burning their paws on the hot pavement. In fact, RV owners who have never owned a cat in their lives are seeking companionship with a cat instead of a dog. And here’s why!
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How RV Travel with Cats is Easier (Than with Dogs!)
“Time spent with cats is never wasted” – Sigmund Freud
We admit it. We don’t own cats. We are owned by two very fluffy Maine Coon cats. But because of their free and easy demeanors, RVing came easy to them. Except for the actual truck ride getting to and from our destinations (they HATED our Ram 3500 engine noise), they love to bounce out of their cat carriers to see what’s waiting for them outside the window and door.
Shopping for an RV for the cats
When we started shopping for each of our three RVs, our number one concern was keeping our comfortable and safe. We would tour dozens upon dozens of recreational vehicles keeping our concerns in mind.
Needless to say, as fast as we’d step inside an RV, we’d just as quickly walk out simply because the floor plans weren’t going to work for us OR our kitties. I know that sounds funny but well, “if the cats ain’t happy, you might as well sleep with one eye open!”
Well, I may be exaggerating however, if you’re a cat lover, you can commiserate our feelings. Each time we’d look at an RV, we’d look to see first, where we’d put their litter box. To be quite honest, appreciating how small RVs really are, there’s still no way we’re putting their cat box in the same area where we prepare food and eat. And, we’re totally not in favor of putting it in the bedroom because if you’ve ever heard and smelled Krissie after she takes a dump, you’d truly understand.
We’d also look for places for them to perch or be able to look out the windows. Once we’d get those two considerations knocked off our list, then following through with our wish list items ensued. So, if you’re a cat owner and in the market for an RV, keep in mind of those two very important issues.
Cats are low maintenance
Cats are creatures of independence. They sleep a lot. In fact, felines nap and sleep up to 20 hours a day so RV travel just seem to make sense to include them. It’s not like they’re high maintenance requiring to be walked in the middle of the night or out in a blowing gale.
Dog owners constant concern is leaving them too long alone in their RVs. Dogs get anxious and need more interaction, walked and well, they pee and poop outside. And dogs are more prone to heat exhaustion more quickly than cats.
Whereas, cat owners just need to make sure they have clean litter boxes, full food dishes, and fresh drinking water. And yes, let’s not forget perches near windows to watch the birds and nap away the day.
Cats love to explore
Cats are born explorers and adventure seekers. Unless they’ve been spoiled and sheltered to the point of becoming scaredy cats, felines are typically eager to check things out once the RV stairs go out.
That said, as we’ve mentioned in our pet etiquette article, cats should be leashed just the same as dogs. It’s for your safety and theirs. But once they have their cat harness on and leashed, they’re ready to go!
Keeping cats safe during RV travel
Many ask us how our two Maine Coon cats travel. We admit, we allowed them to ride loose in the back seat of our truck on their leashes. However, they were a bit too anxious even with their Thunder Shirts which made us also stressed.
So, we decided to help them with a little Feliway spray and got them individual cat carriers to help calm them. Once they got used to them, our kitties actually go in them each time we get underway.
But more importantly, they are safer riding in their carriers. We’ve read too many accounts of dogs and cats going missing after an accident. We also need them in the event we need to evacuate our RV due to severe weather or a trip to the Vet.
Feline healthcare on the road
Prior to setting out on the road, you should discuss with your cat’s Veterinarian of your intentions and their well being just as we did with our kitties. Also, make certain your cats are updated with the immunizations, annual checks, dental checks and copies of their medical records.
You’ll also need to decide if you are going to keep their Veterinarian or find one on the road. For our cats, we left it that their Veterinarian will still continue to be their doctor should we need assistance or medical treatment recommendations down the road.
Why you should microchip your cat
Before launching or even taking your cat on her first RV trip, it’s important to have her microchipped. Your cat’s microchip will be registered in a database. Should your cat lose her way or decide to go on her own journey, when found and turned into the humane society or local animal shelter, they should be able to scan her microchip and find who she belongs to.
Our Krissie was already micro-chipped when we adopted her. However, we had to get Kandi microchipped before hitting the road.
Cat harnesses, leashes and play tents
Just like you should be, we are extremely careful with opening and closing doors no matter where we are. Cats are notorious for being escape artists. Seemingly campgrounds are the places where cats end up being unintentionally left behind.
In fact, there have been a couple times we’ve helped locate other RVer’s find their cats who escaped from their homes on wheels. Luckily, we’ve found them all.
If we do take our cats outside, they are either in their harnesses and leashes or in screened cat tent. And we never leave them unattended as loose dogs or wildlife may be in the area.
What to do with your cats on travel days
Moving day is, as you may already know, a little hectic. Once everything is put away and before even pulling in the slide outs , we put our kitties in their cat carriers.
First, we don’t want them escape out the door but slide outs can injure them or worse. Sadly, we have heard horrible stories of pets getting crushed in their RV slides. So, we take no chances of that every happening. And, we don’t let them out of their carriers until we are parked and the slides deployed again.
What if we have an emergency and must leave our cats behind?
Since beginning our journey in 2014, we have met with hundreds of other RVers who travel with their cats. We tend to gravitate towards each other to see each others kitties. But also, in the event we need to step out away from our RV, whether an emergency or time away from RV life, we look in on others’ cats.
About OUR RV travel cats
Dubbed as our Sheldon Cooper of Cats, “Krissie” never misses a beat with finding new things to do in our RV. Krissie has to have everything just perfect.
However, in 2016, Krissie was a sick little kitty. She was diagnosed with Feline Diabetes. We had to learn how to and keep a strict schedule of feedings and administering her insulin. In fact, we honestly thought we may have to go off the road to ensure she could get the proper care. But, working with her Veterinarian in Elk Creek, Kentucky (near Louisville) and other Vets on the road, she actually went into diabetic remission only 6 months into her diagnosis. To this day, we keep up a regime of feeding her (and Kandi,
Now (2021), Krissie is 13 and aging quickly. We are trying to give her the best quality of life we can until she decides to give no more. She’s got a little hip dysplasia, back issues and of course aging sometimes gets the best of her. But she’s got the best life with us in our RV as a nomad cat.
Read about Krissie’s story: RV Pet Travelers Series: Krissie’s Journey
We named our fluffy calico Maine Coon, “Kandi” because she has the sweetest disposition for a cat. We adopted Kandi at our Veterinarian’s office in late 2010. Now at age 11, Kandi is still our big sweet girl; weighing in at almost 16 pounds of Maine Coon cuteness. She loves meeting new RVers; especially men. She’s a little comedian and acts very dog-like.
Kandi is also a special needs cat though. Shortly after adopting her, she was diagnosed with Feline Hyperesthesia; a neurological condition. We manage her condition and seizure-like issues by trying to mitigate stress and use of essential oils pet formula blend.
It’s been a 8 years since we started our trek across America in our RVs. Our furry, little bug catchers have adapted to our nomadic lifestyle. They’ve each found their own favorite places to nap, know where their snackies are (but they can’t get them on their own because they don’t have thumbs) and where their potty is.
We thought transitioning from a 3200 square foot home would be too much of a challenge for them. However, they have proven quite the opposite. Krissie and Kandi love sharing our RV adventures with us together.
Final thoughts on why we think RV Travel with Cats is Easier (than with dogs!)
As you see, cats make great RV travel companions. If you’re thinking of taking your cat (or cats) on the road, be aware it may not be an easy transition; especially older cats who are set in their ways. Be patient by allowing them space and time to get acclimated to their new surroundings. Slowly introduce them to the RV lifestyle by taking them on short trips to get them accustomed to their new life as nomad cats.
Check out our video RVing with Cats:
Read more about RV travel with cats
How to Keep Cats from Scratching Furniture in your RV or Boat
How to Survive RVing with Cats
Cool Camping Gear for Dogs and Cats
Campground Pet Etiquette: Camping Rules for Dogs and Cats
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6 Replies to “How RV Travel with Cats is Easier (Than with Dogs!)”
We have two Norwegian Forest kittens and a rescued 3 year old one! Only have a VW LWB camper, were coming up to retirement. And intend to take them with us. Great piece from you helps me feel more comfortable about taking them.
One thing tho!
When you said “slides” what are they? We’re in UK and I can’t figure it out ?
Hi Dave, we thank you for visiting and reading our blog. Oooooooo, we LOVE Norwegian Forest kitties! They’re so beautiful and personable.
“Slideouts” or “Slides” are expandable room extensions in an RV (in the states). They run either on hydraulics or electric. They are large and very heavy. Force from opening or closing them can kill anything in their path. We’re heard and read several accounts of kitties who have somehow gotten on top or behind the slide, either extended or pulled in. Its best to stow our kitties in their carriers while operating them. That way, we know exactly where they are and they are safe.
Do you have a blog of your travels? Interested in reading and seeing your fuzzyheads!
– Dan & Lisa
Ah thank you! No blog but was thinking about it when traveling starts! Are you on Pinterest etc.
But that’s an idea!!!
Hi Dave, we are on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest! We hope you find them all informative and fun! Don’t be afraid to engage with us. We’re friendly and don’t bite. Let’s help get you on the road!
-Dan & Lisa
Thank you for such a good blog about taking your kitties. I have been worried about whether to take my two on the road. You had lots of good tips, will get them road ready on some shorties, then onward to the wide open USA! Safe travels😻
Rose, thank you for tuning in! It just will take a little time with your fuzzies. Try small trips at first to see how they do with the new digs and road travel. Best wishes for a smooth journey with them!