We quit the traditional lifestyle to roam the US in our travel trailer, the Intech Sol. We want to share our real experiences with you.
Traveling in an RV full time can be stressful enough - small spaces, limited storage, limited power sources. If you have a cat that is your traveling buddy, you have to make sure it's comfortable too!
Letting Your Cat Explore the RV
We adopted our cat when she was 8 months old and she lived in the house for a year before we came up with this wild idea to live in an RV full time. We were concerned she wouldn't adjust to living in a new space well since we've never taken her anywhere outside the house, except to the vet office.
What we had to do was get her used to traveling in a car and living in a new space within a few months. She would always shake when we took her in the car because she thought we were going to the vet. To ease her anxiety, we started taking her with us when we went on short trips like going to the gas station, picking up lunch, or getting coffee.
We then took her to the RV a few times to let her explore. The next big thing we did was to actually book weekend trips to local spots with the RV and take her along. Her first trip was to a state park and she did not do well. She slept all day the first day because the hour-long drive to the park wore her out. Then she cried all night because she didn't know where she was at.
The second day went better as she figured out she could sit on top of the couch cushions to look out the window, but it was another sleepless night with repeated crying and scratching at the door.
We took her on one more weekend getaway before we pulled the plug and went fulltime. There was no more white glove treatment for her—she will have to adjust. Luckily, after a few more sleepless nights, she finally settled and started to accept that she no longer gets to sleep in her favorite spot in the house. Her favorite spot now in the RV is at the corner of the bed, flanked by two windows. It's a win!
Keeping Your Cat From Getting Bored
Our cat is an indoor cat and had free roam of the house while we were away at work. Her favorite spot in the house was on the highest shelf in the closest. The closet had two picture windows that looked out into the street, so she had a bird's eye view of anything that went close to the house.
Now that she is living in an RV, all the spaces she has now are the bedroom, the front sitting area, and the kitchen area (which she is not allowed in, but she tries anyways). She doesn't have a high vantage point anymore, so how do we keep her from scratching up all the furniture in frustration?
Our solution: we make sure we park the RV close to a tree or a bush so that she can see birds, squirrels, or any wildlife that comes near the RV. Since our bed and couch have windows close by, she has comfortable places to checkout the wildlife.
Cats just need something to hunt for and birds flying around, squirrels gathering nuts, and wild turkeys pecking the grounds are enough to satisfy her hunting instincts.
We brought her kitty house and placed it on the couch so that she can sit on top of it to look out the window. She roams on top of the cushions when chasing critters, and the cushions are large enough for her to lay on when lounging. Her kitty house also gives her a space to hide away from us when she wants alone time.
We also bought a wrap-able scratch mat from IKEA and wrapped it around the leg of the table. The pad is tall enough for her to stretch and scratch. We have seen her use it many times, so we know she likes it!
And of course, we keep a fresh supply of toys and treats for our cat. We brought her favorite toys and treats to comfort her as she adjusts to living in the RV.
Read More From Pethelpful
What About the Litter Box?
While living in the house, our cat had the traditional litter box with a hood and door flap in the front. It fit perfectly in the space next to the washer and dryer machines in the laundry room.
Our original idea was to put the litter box in the cabinet under the sink in the RV. It was a great idea until we found out it was too big! Had it fit though, the door would not be accessible with the cabinet door closed. This would mean cutting up the cabinet door to install a cat door—way too complicated!
So we had to figure out what to do about the litter box. We could put it in the bathroom, but it took too much space and we would have to angle it for her to enter the litter box, which left us little room for us to use the toilet.
So after much researching, our solution was to ditch her old litter box and go for a top-entry litter box. We got one that would fit nicely in the bathroom that would have enough space for both humans and cat to use it.
What we like about a top-entry litter box is that it contains the litter she would be kicking up better, there is no extra horizontal space required for her to enter/exit the box, and extra litter would be caught on top of the box when she steps on it to leave (reducing litter that gets on the floor).
What we don't like about a top-entry litter box is that it doesn't contain the smell as well since there is not a door. Our cat also doesn't quite understand how to bury her poo in this new contraption since we often hear her scratching at the walls of the box instead of the litter itself.
We were worried she wouldn't know how to use a top-entry litter box, but she surprised us by learning it by the end of the day. We put some of her "nuggets" into the new box to use something that smelled familiar and then praised her when she explored the new box. We would give her a treat in another room after she was done exploring.
After she actually used the new litter box, we gave her the super special treats that she only gets once in awhile. This worked for us and she's been using the new litter box like a champ ever since.
Something that we find amusing (yes, a cat taking a dump can be amusing): sometimes her head pokes out of the entry hole and we get to see her face in a trance as she does her business. Apparently, taking a dump takes a lot of concentration for our cat.
Leash Train Your Cat
Yes, we went there. We leashed trained our cat. Why? Why not!
Leash training your cat lets them enjoy the outdoors safely and keeps you following the rule where many public places require leashed pets. Plus, many people have never seen a leashed cat, so it's a great conversation starter.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2019 Sol Perspectives
We hope you learned something from this article and would love to hear your comments or questions!
Sol Perspectives (author) on September 16, 2019:
Thank you for your kind words @Eurofile
Liz Westwood from UK on September 16, 2019:
This is an interesting and helpful article for RV and pet owners. You give great tips based on experience.