When we stumbled into the full-time RV life, there was never a possibility that our pets wouldn’t go with us. We had two dogs and a cat. The cat, of course, is the queen of the house, so this article is about her and full-time RVing with a cat. This includes daily life as well as travel day issues. You can read our tips for traveling with restricted breed dogs here.
In general, our ruler, I mean cat, adapted perfectly to the RV. Our few challenges included placing the litter box, solving a feeding problem, and saving the faux leather sofa from her claws.
Litter Box Challenges
One of the biggest challenges to full-time RVing with your cat is where to put litter box. To me the primary issues are finding room for it, reducing litter being tracked everywhere, and eliminating any odor. I’ve heard of RVers who put it in the shower and others who designate a cabinet for the box and cut a hole in the door. We are fortunate to have a toy hauler, so there is plenty of room for the litter box under the sink in the garage.
To see our tiny, traveling home click here.
That left the last two problems of smell and litter tracking. Since we can sweep in the garage, litter tracking wasn’t too bad, just a little annoying. Smell, however, is an issue for me. I have a sensitive sniffer! We originally kept the smell as much as possible by regular scooping and cleaning of the box. Still, even with one cat I could smell it. I would dump the box out completely each week and wash it down. Until the wonderful day I discovered a smell and dust free litter box! It’s called the Tidy Cat Breeze. At $50 for a starter kit, it may seem expensive, but I think it pays off in the end. You don’t have to dump the whole box and replace all the pellets each week. You just replace pellets as they are depleted. I just have the one cat (with kidney disease) and I only have to replace the pad about every three days. I don’t smell it at all, and the pellets are large enough that they don’t stick to her paws. Also, when I changed her litter box, she had no problems using it right away.
Food and Water
My pretty kitty does something the vet aptly named “scarf and barf.” It essentially means she will eat her food with extreme gusto, then regurgitate it in the most inconvenient place in the RV (often my bed). To solve the problem, I have to feed her many small meals throughout the day. Since this can get tedious, and she gets angry with me if I go out during the day and skip a feeding, I had to get an automatic feeder. Now my clever kitty, has been able to outsmart every feeder we’ve had until we found the Honey Guardian Automatic Cat Feeder. Now, I’m going to warn you–this thing is pricey ($70). Most people will probably not need something so complicated for their cat. You should watch some of the hysterical customer videos on Amazon of cats getting into cheap feeders. I wish I had thought of taking one of her.
We keep her space age feeder and water bowl on the opposite side of the garage from her litter box, and she seems perfectly content with the set up.
Saving the Furniture
Our kitty’s claws really enjoyed our faux leather sofa when we first moved into the RV. We needed to find a quick solution and we did. This one is surprisingly very low tech. It’s essentially a piece of cardboard, but she LOVES it! We flip it over about every 2 weeks, and replace it about once a month.
Another major concern when full-time RVing with your cat, is what to do on travel days. The first thing we warned about was to secure your cat when bringing the slides.
Safety in the Vehicle
Also, we have a fifth wheel and she travels in the truck with us. We follow the Humane Society’s recommendation to keep the cat in a carrier in our vehicle. To make her more comfortable, place her little bed in it. We place her carrier on the back seat of the truck (in the middle) and secure it with a seat belt. Even well-behaved cats loose in the car could be injured, because an airbag will crush the crate and pet if on the front seat during an accident.
Cats are sensitive to environment and territory which is why they prefer staying home in familiar surroundings. You can make the car/truck familiar by allowing kitty to cheek rub and spread its scent to claim the car as purr-sonal territory. We also use her regular bedding in the crate for this reason. She sleeps in this bed (on my bed) right next to me at night. I think it is her happy place, so put the little bed in her crate on travel days. We also spritz a little feliway spray in the crate before we put her in.
Finally, for her comfort and ours, we don’t travel too long. We generally like to keep our travel days shorter than 4 hours.
Hot Car/Truck Danger
Every time we stop, one of of stays in the air-conditioned truck with her. If we go in the RV for lunch, she goes with us. A quick pit stop may feel like no time at all to you, but it’s too long to leave your pet in a car by themself. Heat is a serious hazard: when it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Even if you’re certain of your timing, you can get held up — in just 30 minutes, you could return to a 120 degree car and a pet suffering irreversible organ damage or death.
Spread the word about the dangers of leaving pets in a hot cars by printing our Hot Car flyer (PDF), posting it in public places, and sharing it with your friends, family and coworkers.
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April Hansen says
We used the Tidy Cat Breeze for a while, but with three cats it became too much. What we did learn, however, was to cut down on the pee pad expense, we bought puppy pads and cut them up and used them. Much cheaper!
Sean Chickery says
Thanks for that “trick” April! We are going to have to give that a try.
Our Kitty Boy is a scarf-and-barfer as well. I tried the no-bowl feeding system (little plastic mice that you fill and hide around the house), but I got to lazy to hide them every day, and there were constantly bits of unfound, uneaten dry cat food in all of the “hiding places” because the food was the same color as our carpet, so we are back to the bowl system. It’s usually wet food he does it with the most, and it helps if we only feed him a little wet food at a time and spread it out on a plate so he is forced to consume it more slowly.
RV Mush says
Oh dear! Scarf and Barf – I’m still laughing! Teena Kitty has had a very sensitive tummy since we brought her home in 2011. See her version of the story here http://realrvliving.com/teena-kitty-find-furrever-home/ She is a bit long-winded so part 2 of this story is here http://realrvliving.com/poor-sick-kitty/
We first tried limited item diet food, which worked for awhile. Last year she started tossing her cookies (not because of overeating) so something had to be done. The vet suggested taking her off her very expensive dry food and changing her over to canned food – twice a day… ugh! She now has me trained to feed her at sunset and sunrise, gads – I’m not an early morning gal. Neither is TK, as she comes back to bed after her morning feeding and makes it almost impossible to make the bed anytime before noon on most days.
I’m glad the wet food is working, but bummer that you have to get up at sunrise. That is dedication! TK should feel loved.
I have a friend who’s car does that too! Except he only does it if his bowl ends up empty. And there were times he would finish the bowl in front of her, she would fill it less than a minute later, and he would instantly act like he had never been fed a day in his life (instant scarf & barf). They tried the auto feeders but he kept knocking it over playing with their other cat. She finally just fills a large dog bowl up with 4-5 cups at a time, and she refills the bowl when it reaches about 1/2 full to ensure it never gets missed. It can take DAYS to get him back on track if the bowl ends up empty, even for a minute.