How to RV with Cats…and survive!

When we shifted our cribs from our former Kentucky home to our home on wheels with our two cats, we knew we’d have a few challenges ahead. But me oh my! Never would we have been prepared for some of the uncertainties we’ve faced on the road. We needed to learn how to make them happy RV cats. Because, if the cats weren’t going to be happy, guess what!? It’s a given fact that one of us would be!

Our 15 and 17 pound fluffy Maine Coon darlings are the queens of our double wide and boy, do they know it! They rule the roost; all 350 square foot of our fifth wheel RV. And that whole two objects can’t possibly occupy the same space? Let me tell you, oh yes THEY CAN! They’re cats for Pete’s sake! They test boundaries, laws of gravity and physics as well as our patience. Sometimes, they act worse than two year olds.

Through our travels though, we’ve learned, experimented, blundered but we’ve survived. It certainly didn’t come easy, we admit.

See, if you’ve not caught on by now, cats are their own species. Unlike dogs who are ‘gimme a biscuit and let’s go for a ride dumdeedumdum’ mentality, cats are quite different on so many levels. Cats are opportunists, fickle, demanding creatures of habit.

If we change one thing, our cats’ world turns upside down. Ours are far from adventure seekers. We didn’t really raise them that way. Their outside world is the next room. Sometimes they are afraid of their own shadows! They don’t go outside (except an occasional treat in their outdoor cat tent) to explore. They don’t even tolerate walking on a leash (we tried…miserable fail). They are definitely spoiled but for good reason.

Since we travel all over the United States, there are things that can essentially hurt them. And as you’ve heard the old adage “curiosity killed the cat”; well then. They would no doubt, want to play with big tarantulas, scorpions, venomous little rattlers and God knows what else. So, we just keep them inside.

Meet our RV cats…

Our girls, tortoise-shell Krissie (age 10) and calico Kandi (age 8), were rescue kittens. Both lost their moms at an early age. Krissie and her sister’s mom were fostered by humans upon birth and Kandi was brought to the Vet’s office in a box….all freaking NINE of them! So, as you can see, human interaction with them is and always has been important to them. Its all they’ve from their kittenhoods. Unfortunately, we do have what you call, ‘broken cats’ meaning they are special needs and require unique care. Krissie is in diabetic remission and Kandi is stricken with Feline Hyperesthesia. But we make sure they are cared for the best we can hope for.

So after almost 5 nomadic years later as I write this, I wonder how in the heck we did it. So, I figured I should put this in writing to help others who may have this challenge with older cats. We hope our How-To RV with Cats (and survive!) helps.

Check out our YouTube video below of how we RV with our cats!

Ways we’ve made our Feline Companions comfortable during our RV adventures

Kitty Clothes

I know very few cats who actually enjoy travel days. And our two Maine Coonies aren’t them! I think when we put them in their carriers or in the truck, they must feel like their in some sort of dizzying vortex or something because they just plain don’t like movement and the sound of the engine (or us talking? LOL). SO we found these amazing wrap-around shirts that hug them. We have noticed a difference in their demeanor. They are calming Thunder Shirts. As you can see above, Kandi doesn’t seem to mind hers. Krissie….well, she doesn’t like anything different…or even herself on some days.

Calming Spray

Oh trust me, we’ve tried EVERYTHING to help make our cats’ travel experience more pleasant for them (and US!!). We’ve tried essential oils, special beds, special treats, etc. but to no avail, they just don’t like travel days. However, I read about a cat calming spray that is supposed to help them by reducing anxiety from new environments and loud noises. So, we tried it. We spray their little beds inside of their cat carriers about 15 minutes before loading them in. We’ve also tried Rescue Remedy which works just as well with cats (and dogs!). They do work…at least for our nomad cats.

Cat TV

Our kits love looking out our workspace windows. In fact, we have cat beds on both sides of the desk so they can nap while I work. In their world, that’s their perfect day. And when they’re not napping, they love to watch the birds. So, we set up their own cat tv with this clear window feeder. It attaches to our RV window with suction cups so we can put it up and remove it easily. What’s cool is the birds don’t see what’s going on inside (like Krissie or Kandi licking their chops!) because our windows are tinted. If we’re in Hummingbird country, we set up their Hummingbird feeder that also attaches to the window.

I don’t know who enjoys it more; them or us watching them!

Lofty Idea

Cats, no matter if they are housebound or outdoor adventurers, need safe places to nap. And, it seems they like high places unlike dogs who prefer the floor or the couch. Again, our girls sleep on their cat beds up on the desk but they also enjoy lounging on the backs of the recliners, on the bench in our bedroom or our bed. Its just as well that they prefer higher places because otherwise, we’d be tripping over them in our tiny living space.

The Bradens from Three Sheets Northwest live on a boat full-time. Like RV life, they had to figure out where their kitty could slumber without being under foot or need a bulky bed. Well, when you own cats, you have to give a little to get a little so they gave up a small overhead cabinet for Halifax to take reign. He sure looks comfortable, doesn’t he?

Screen Cat Tent


Our girls do love to go outside once in a great while however, they are not fond of leashes or getting too far away from home. We have to be careful they don’t come into contact with other cats or dogs. So, we had to come up with a safe  and more comfortable way for them to enjoy the outdoors. We found a cool screen tent made just for cats! Now they aren’t tethered to ropes or leashes but can enjoy sniffing the outdoors with just a layer of screen.

GO in style!

When shopping for an RV, every cat owner groans at the thought of where to put the litter box. In fact, it’s the single most asked question of cat owners seeking the RV life.

For us, the solution was easy. We just keep their potty box in the shower when we’re not using it. However, not all RVs have a large enough space in the shower to keep it. Or, the shower door doesn’t remain open so the cats could come and go as they please. We’ve seen a lot of cat owners have this litter box cabinet.  Its stylish but has function! The door opens so they can pull their litter box out to scoop their poop, clean or refill their cat litter.

In either case, get a cat litter mat so they don’t track litter all over your RV.

Here are some other clever litter box ideas blogged by our friend, Ashley, at RV Inspiration.

How to hide their ‘presents’

Cleaning the litter box is that chore no one likes (except for our Krissie and Kandi). And you can’t just flush kitty’s litter box remnants in the toilet; especially in an RV! However, this cool inexpensive bagging system is genius!! Its the same design as the diaper genie for babies’ nurseries, only smaller. You just scoop and dump their precious little presents in the can. No touching their smelly ew-ews and their little presents are closed in they bagging system so no odor escapes.

So those are some ways we try to make our nomad cats comfortable and happy (and US TOO!). We’ve seen other experienced RV cat owners are using them also.

Before I close on this blog, I want to share another pair of nomad cats we’ve grown to love on the road. Denny and Veronica from RV Outlawz travel with Mango (age 11) and Kali (age 6). These nomad cats are true adventurists and explorers! When we meet up with the RV Outlawz crew, we always giggle at their wild antics of climbing trees, prancing on the desert floors and rolling around on sandy beaches. They love exploring every inch of their new backyard surroundings. They come when they’re called (even better than dogs!!) and they are just lovable and sweet.

We hope you enjoyed this article highlighting how to RV with cats. Its not rocket science but there are some things you need to do to make your fuzzy heads happy little nomads so you can be happy nomads too!

If you enjoyed this blog, we encourage you to visit…

Cool Camping Gear for Dogs and Cats

Why Cats Make Great RV Companions


5 Replies to “How to RV with Cats…and survive!”

  1. Hey, thanks for the shoutout! I love the picture of your girls looking out the window in their Thundershirts! 😀 Our cat loves watching birds out the window too! I used heavy duty adhesive hooks to hang my regular bird feeders directly on the window of our RV. 🙂

    1. Hi Ashley, we’re thrilled you enjoyed our post on our meow meows! Hopefully we can meet soon! Was really looking forward to seeing you at NomadFest. Someday, huh? Safe travels, friends! -Dan & Lisa

  2. Thank you for your story about the cats. We just adopted a cat who seems to have Maine coon qualities. She has not traveled with us yet. She (Harley) lives with two dogs and a bird. All is well with the two dogs, but working on the bird. Just an FYI my husband is former military (Navy ) retired LEO, our son is army and in Afghanistan, daughter is army and in Ft. Knox. Thank you for your service, and can’t wait to read more.
    Kathy and Nick Campo

    1. Hi Kathy and Nick, thanks for following along! I bet your super proud of your family who serves! Thank all of them also for their service. And tell us about your kitty? Maybe we can see her down the road sometime should we bump into you guys! Please be safe out there! -Lisa & Dan

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