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Before we set out on our RV adventure of North America we had always wondered what to do with Monty, our cat. We just couldn’t imagine leaving our little buddy behind with family so we asked the question…
Can I RV with a cat? You may be able to RV with your cat but it depends on your cat’s personality. If they are an indoor vs an outdoor cat and how they enjoy and adapt to new situations and places will affect how they transition to RV life.
We were fortunate with our furball, he was already well traveled and enjoyed exploring new places as long as he was with us. It did take some time for him to get used to the rattle and roll of the RV.
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Does Your Cat Suit RV Life?
Your cat’s personality and lifestyle will greatly affect your ability to take him RVing with you. If they are bold and confident they may take to travel life better than if they are shy and timid.
Indoor cats can make great RV companions. They are used to spending their time inside and hopefully aren’t prone to making a break for it.
Outdoor cats will need to be acclimatized to spending more time indoors. They may be the harder of the cat lifestyles to take RVing since they are used to having the freedom to roam. You will spend a lot of time exercising them, whether it’s walking or playing, prior to hitting the road.
Indoor/outdoor cats are the best and worst of both worlds. They tend to be happy for awhile inside but will try to escape at the worst times out of places you never expected. You’ll need to encourage them to come back to the RV when called using toys or treats.
Harness training is another option for you to consider to keep your kitty safe. It’ll take time and patience for your cat to get used to the harness. Start off with short intervals every day then slowly work up to more time and taking them outdoors.
Also, buy a cat-specific harness (Amazon Link). We did not do this and our Monty could Houdini out of his harness and be gone in a flash. Needless to say, we didn’t follow through with harness training but it would have reduced some worry to take him for walks rather than let him out to wander.
Turning your Cat into a Traveller
No matter the lifestyle of your cat you will need to get him used to your rig. This will mean spending some time in your RV with your kitty just hanging out and playing. Bring their food and litter box so they have all the comforts of home while you do this.
We were renovating our RV for awhile so Monty got used to hangout with us in there while we did work. It was good for him to just chill in the space before we started driving with him.
Once your cat is used to the RV stationary it’s time for a test drive. Start taking your kitty on short drives around town to get them used to the feel of your RV in motion. Make sure you have a hidey hole for them or have them cozy in their carrier (Amazon Link).
If they are only used to going in their carrier when they go to the vet then chances are they may not like it too much at first. It’s good to show them that every time they go in their carrier it does end in a trip to the vet.
Once they seem used to the RV, or at least not ready to gouge your eyes out every time you start it, it’s time to take a little camping trip. This is a good test to see how you all enjoy RVing together. Do this well ahead of your departure date so if everything goes to pot you have time to either continue getting kitty used to RV life or find another solution.
Feline Safety on the Move
Many will adamantly state the only safe place for a cat in a moving vehicle is secured in a crate. While in theory, this is true, it’s not always practical.
Many cats are not happy being confined to their carriers for long periods of time. Finding the balance with your own cat is important. But it’s also important to understand that a free and loose kitty WILL be injured in the event of an accident.
The other risk factor of a loose kitty is them interfering with the driver. This includes walking across the dash, blocking the driver’s view, getting in the way of the pedals and flopping in the driver’s lap for a cuddle.
We chose to let Monty loose in the RV while we were driving. He never came into the cockpit while we were driving, he didn’t like that rattle of the diesel engine. He tended to switch between sleeping on the couch, the counter or the storage unit. Occasionally he would curl up in the bathroom sink too.
Where to Keep the Cat “stuff”?
The litter box is always a tricky thing even in your bricks and mortar home. You need to keep it somewhere easy for fluffy to access while being discrete and out of the way.
This may be even more important in an RV since it’s such a small space to start with.
We opted to keep Monty’s litter box in the shower. It kept any little mess contained and also prevented Monty from pawing things into the litter box. Yes, he was a weirdo.
Others have made discrete litter box (Amazon Link) spots in cabinets or under the dinette seats. Each RV is going to be a special case for where to keep the litter box. The most important thing is to clean it often to keep your kitty happy and keep your rig from smelling like cat pee. Yuck!
Other things you need to consider for your cat is where to keep his food and scratch pad. Monty’s food was always put away for travel. We kept his water in a lidded container so when we stopped we would just get it out for him instead of having to continually refill a bowl.
When stopped his bowls were set in front of the fridge. We kept his dry cat food in a large Tupperware container to keep the smell of it in and critters out.
Having a scratch pad for your cat is important to let your kitty relieve that scratching desire and any stress he may have from the drive. Ours always loved the flat cardboard scratch pads (Amazon Link). They are light, cheap and really don’t take up a ton of space but each cat is different so get something you know your cat loves.
A cat bed is a very personal item. Some cats love them, some cats look at them then go sleep in your chair. We did not have a designated cat bed for Monty but his soft carrier was always available to him. Sometimes he would take advantage but most of the time he would take over one of our captain’s chairs. It made for a lot of butt lint rolling.
Whatever your cat enjoys just make sure you’ve given them a spot to feel secure when the world around them is changing so much. For more ideas on how to stay sane while RVing with your cat check out my article, Cats & RVs: 9 Tips to Stay Sane.
Having your feline friend along for the ride makes for fun and interesting travels. Fellow travelers often are shocked we have our cat with us, especially when he joins us for a walk on his own but it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade.
Can I cross the Canada/USA border with my cat? Crossing the border is a straight forward experience, just make sure you have your cat’s vaccination documents handy, though you may not even be asked for it. Typically an up to date rabbis vaccination is all that is required, either a 1 year or 3 year is fine. Learn more about crossing the border in your RV with our Complete Border Guide.
Are cats allowed at RV parks and campgrounds? Most parks and campgrounds allow well-behaved pets if they are on a leash. That being said we’ve never gotten in trouble for having our cat off leash. Check with the campground before booking and always declare to the campground that you are traveling with a cat.