Can You Take Your Cat in Mobile Homes and Motorhomes?
Can I take a cat on a motorhome? Plenty of people take dogs on motorhome or caravan holidays, so why not cats? Two years ago we got ourselves a small(ish) mobile home and the plan was always to take our lunatic cat Monty on trips with us—especially as we had an extended trip planned for the summer of 2010.
Many people thought we were mad taking a cat in a motorome, but we honestly couldn't see a problem with it. We checked online and saw that other people had done it successfully so why not us? So far Monty has been with us on countless short breaks plus a six-week tour of the north of England and he lived with us for 3 months in the van in early 2011 when we first moved up north and couldn't find a place to live. Here's what we learned.
Break Them in Gently
Getting your cat used to your motorhome: You're going to need to get your cat used to its new environment. Almost as soon as we got Delores (as the van is affectionately known) we started to bring Monty on board. We made sure we gave him some of his favourite treats and would often take a book on there so we could sit and read and allow him time to explore his new surroundings.
At first we had to carry him on board but eventually we could just leave the door open and he'd hop in. It wasn't long before he started to relax, curl up and go to sleep. Next up was to start the engine while he was aboard. We made sure the doors were shut so he couldn't just run away and yes, he was a little scared at first, but we stayed on there with him and soon he was fine.
The next big step was to spend a night on there with him so, much to our neighbours amusement, we camped out in our driveway one night to see how things went. There was one minor mishap but as we were on our driveway it wasn't a huge problem. Monty had got himself stuck on the over cab bed and peed on an old duvet we had up there as he couldn't get down to his litter tray. It is the first and only time he did that - I think he learned a lesson then too.
Day-to-Day Living on Board
We soon got into some easy routines, some of these may work for you but others will be dependent on the temperament of your cat.
- Travelling with a cat in a motorhome: At first when we were travelling Monty was kept in his cat carrier but after the first hour or so he would start to howl very loudly and continuously. One day, when we were on a very quiet country lane, we left the cat carrier open to see what would happen. All that happened was he jumped up onto the nearest sofa area, curled up and went to sleep. Occasionally on long journeys he'll take a peek out of the windows, but he's shown zero interest in the cab end of the van and much prefers the bed area.
- Exercise: He's a 5 year old male cat so he needs wearing out, else we don't get any sleep! We always keep a couple of toys on board and each evening play with him for an hour or so to wear him out. His favourite game is chasing a small ball around on the bed before we make it up properly.
- Going outside: We bought a harness and lead for him but he has never gotten used to them. He's very used to Delores now and considers it his "home" so when we're in remote areas away from traffic we generally let him out in the evenings for an hour. He never wanders far away and, if the weather is good, enjoys snoozing on the step and watching the world go by.
- Litter trays: This has got to be one of the biggest challenges - sharing a small and confined space with a cat and his toilet habits. When we're parked up the cab area is his. His litter tray is one side and his food & water the other. His cat carrier is also tucked away but accessible in case anything spooks him. Do make sure you have either a sturdy duspan and brush or a small vacuum cleaner as the litter will get everywhere. We find it helpful to keep a large black bin liner spread out underneath his litter tray to catch the worst of it.
- Get a small scratch post: Unless you want your cat to shred your furniture. We still struggle with Monty over this as he much prefers to sharpen his claws on the sofa, but we're getting there...
We've had a few scary moments but everything turned out ok in the end. Here's what I'd recommend:
- Make sure you have your vet's number programmed into your phone. On one occasion, when we were in the middle of nowhere, Monty tried to eat a bee and got stung in the face. Our vet soon gave us some brilliant advice and we were able to deal with the situation.
- Ensure your pet is microchipped and the chipping company have your mobile/ cell phone number. If your pet should vanish, it's no good them phoning your home number if you're in the middle of a field someplace.
- Take a small stash of basic pet medicines—tick removers, worming pills, flea & tick deterrents, etc.
- Always keep treats handy—they're great as bribes and a shaken treat tub could usually lure Monty in from wherever he'd vansihed off to.
- Find a familiar blanket that can be used around the home and on the motorhome—that way there will be a comfortable, familiar smell to help keep your cat calm.
When it comes to cats and motorhomes there's always something more to learn and each trip seems to throw up something new, but hopefully the ideas above will be helpful if you're planning on taking your cat on your next motorhome holiday with you—it's certainly cheaper than the cattery!
The new generation on Delores
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Beth Pipe