Can I Take a Cat on a Motorhome or Van?
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 motorhome, 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 three 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, or 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 on one side and his food and 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 dustpan 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 has your mobile/ cell phone number. If your pet should vanish, it's no good for them to phone 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 vanished 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!
© 2011 Beth Pipe
Babs on January 07, 2018:
Thanks for these positive comments.
I have recently retired and my plan was to go off , with my cat, and explore. So far, she has told me 'no!' but, you know, she just has to - I have time now and my friends say give her away but she is loyal and I couldn't leave her.
I have bought a harness and lead for her - she tries to be OK about it - for an hour, to keep me happy. So far, she waits by the motorhome door to be let out, then rushes out the moment the door is opened and hides under somewhere she feels safe! I cannot leave her but she has to be one with me - I need to explore (with her). I cannot give her up but my future plans need her to comply. This feels big! Would a relaxant spray help her? I refuse to agree with friends, Surely she can be trained and enjoy time away with me? She is a good companion and is a rescue cat so , evn more special.
Any advise would be welcome.
Beth Pipe (author) from Cumbria, UK on October 21, 2013:
Heidi that sounds like a wonderful adventure! I'm really glad you found my comments useful. Monty now just treats the place as his own and often hops on and off when it's on the driveway and I'm cleaning it. He also sleeps under it a lot so I guess he's pretty happy with it.
Good luck with Sam, I'm sure he'll be fine. Just let him get used to it at his own pace and there'll be nothing to worry about.
Enjoy your adventure!
Heidi on October 18, 2013:
Fell upon your great hub. We are about to retire and plan to take our fifteen year old spoilt cat Sam, traveling with us in our motorhome. Sam loves the car so hope this goes ok. Sam sleeps most of the time nowadays and doesn't exercise much. We will follow your steps with intro to his new home. We plan to travel around NZ.
Beth Pipe (author) from Cumbria, UK on January 25, 2012:
Thank you. Monty is a British Blue, but he was a rescue cat - can you believe someone just gave him away? He's really happy on the mobile home now and it's great taking him on holiday with us.
Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on January 24, 2012:
Great idea to take your cat with you on trips. Nice hub. I have a cat, and she doesn't like being on a leash, either. I have two cats. Nice looking cat.
Beth Pipe (author) from Cumbria, UK on January 04, 2012:
Thanks for the comments. He's just returned from another 7 day holiday visiting family for Christmas in his mobile "cat palace" as they all call it. It just takes a little time and patience and I'm convinced it's better for the cat than the stress of the cattery.
RTalloni on December 30, 2011:
Something I wouldn't have thought of, this motor homing with a cat, but very interesting to read about your experience. Thanks for sharing your tips!
Cindy Murdoch from Texas on December 30, 2011:
My cats do not like to be in the car. They constantly cry.
Maybe if I could adapt them to it as you have done it would work better. You seem to have done so well with it. This was a great hub with lots of useful tips for someone wanting to travel with their kitties.
Angie Jardine from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on December 21, 2011:
We always took The Toof with us on holiday in our motorhome ... and he did get used to walking on a lead. I think he knew it was either that or Colditz, as he called the local cattery.
For photos of the Toofie travels see my hub https://hubpages.com/animals/Travels-with-a-cat...
Beth Pipe (author) from Cumbria, UK on December 20, 2011:
Thank you for your comments - we were surprised at how easy it all became. It's a lot cheaper than using a cattery and Monty is SO much happier in a familiar environment and with us around (he's been quite clingy since he dissapeared last year). Moonlake - California to Texas? That's a lot of crying - did you need earplugs? :-)
Claudette Coleman Carter from Media, Pennsylvania on December 19, 2011:
Enjoyed the research and effort you put into this hub. It will be useful if I ever decide to take my cat in a mobile home for our vacation. Thanks again.
Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on December 19, 2011:
Cool hub! It would be great for a cat to be able to travel along with its owners on trips and vacations, instead of getting boarded. Excellent tips to address common issues with having a cat inside a motor home!
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on December 19, 2011:
What fabulous advice! I did not know that it was all that feasible to take a cat on a trip- be it in a mobile home or anything else- but you've worked things out for Monty quite well! You're lucky he's not the wandering type- though you definitely have prepared for things well by getting a harness and chipping him! It must be nice to be able to travel without having to arrange for pet care.
Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on December 18, 2011:
That was very good advice from your own experience, and I feel better about traveling with our kitty--KeeKee. I have never had the nerve to leave him with anyone or any service,so I am very happy I came upon your well written hub. Thanks so much for sharing.
moonlake from America on December 18, 2011:
All good tips. We had a cat once that didn't want to come with us up north. After traveling many miles with him we had to leave him with my Mom and Dad. He cried all the way from California to Texas.
FloraBreenRobison on December 18, 2011:
My neighbours always take their cat with them on trips with their mobile home. He loves it.
India Arnold from Northern, California on December 18, 2011:
Outstanding tips for the family who wants to take their feline friend traveling with them in the Motor Home! Love your section on How to Break them In Gently and Sensible Precautions! I am finding myself very impressed with your pet hubs! Keep 'em coming Beth; you're quickly on your way to becoming a HubNugget star!
Kathy H from Waukesha, Wisconsin on December 18, 2011:
This is so great! We were considering a motor home once we retire and wondered if our cats could possibly get used to living in one, it sounds like it might actually be possible. We have a few years to go before then, but we'll see! You do give some wonderful advice here, thanks for sharing! :) Voted up and very useful!
Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on December 18, 2011:
Sounds like you guys are having a great adventure. Great that you could take your cat along, and your article has some very good tips.