How to Travel With Your Cat in A Home On Wheels
You might be thinking about buying a van, gutting it and making it home and traveling with your cat. Or perhaps buying an RV is more your style or a camper home trailer or a campervan or a caravan or even a motorhome.
But what about the practicalities of traveling with your cat? What about the kitty litter? How do you make this new home cat-friendly? Or how do you help your cat transition to this new lifestyle?
We asked our community to share their experiences of sharing #vanlife (or #rvlife or #campervanlife or #caravanlife or #motorhomelife) with their cat.
Note: In this article, we have made reference to vans, motorhomes, camper vans, caravans. While we understand that they are all different, we have used them interchangeably for the sake of this discussion.
Before You Get Started – Preparing Your Cat
Training Your Cat
Exploring with Your Cat
We strongly recommend that you first train your cat to explore with you. This is typically done via walking on a leash or in a backpack. You can also use a stroller, but this may not be practical while hiking or the stroller may take up too much room in your home on wheels.
Transitioning of Lifestyle
Also, if you are planning on travelling long term with your cat, think about how it will change their lifestyle and start transitioning. A cat that is used to roaming around, may struggle if they are suddenly copped up in a motor home for hours at a time. Or similarly, a cat who is used to being inside all the time may struggle with the movement in a van.
Start small, perhaps with short trips (even a ride around the block) in your home with wheels and then make them longer as your cat gets used to them.
Recall – Teach Your Cat to Come
While doing any form of exploring, teaching your cat to come when called is very useful.
There are several ways to train your cat, including clicker training.
Treats Your Cat Loves
While training your cat, learn about the treats they love and make sure you take these with you. These will be awesome bribes when you need them to come back into your van at the end of a day.
Microchipping your Cat
We always recommend that you have your cat microchipped.
In a situation where your cat is separated from you and is found by another human and taken to a shelter or a vet, the microchip will help you be reunited with your cat.
Just remember to keep your details up to date, especially your phone numbers and emails.
We also recommend that you attach a pet tracker to your cat’s collar or harness.
This will not only give you peace of mind but also help you find them if you do get separated.
Always ensure that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date.
Not only does this keep your cat safe, but many caravan parks also insist that all pets are vaccinated.
We strongly recommend that your cat is also up to date with their flea and tick prevention medication.
We also suggest that you take spare flea and tick medication & worming tablets with you. If you are planning to travel for a longer period of time, it would be best to have extras!
We recommend that you not only have your cat’s vaccination certificates on hand but if you are traveling long term, also have their health history from your vet.
This will help in the case of an emergency, where another vet can quickly get up to date on your cat’s health.
In a situation where you get separated from your cat and need to prove ownership, make sure you have their pet ownership paperwork.
Some kitties travel across international borders while RVing with their humans. In these situations, you will need to have a passport for your cat. Also make sure that you are aware of any other restrictions, some of which also apply when flying with your cat.
We also recommend that you have a couple of hard copy photographs of your cat.
Imagine it, your cat has gotten lost. You’re in the middle of nowhere. Your phone has died of the battery. And you are trying to describe what your cat looks like to some kind people who are helping you look for your cat.
It would just be easier to show them a photograph.
Preparing Your Home on Wheels to Travel with Your Cat
How you set up your home on wheels really depends on the amount of room you have. A motor home will have more room than a van, where you might have to be a little more creative.
Safe Spaces for Your Cat
While you may be limited in space in your home with wheels, you can add in a few safe spots for your cat.
You can also fit their beds in these spaces or even add in a thermal blanket to keep them warm in winter.
The possibilities are endless especially when you are creative.
Places for Your Cat to Scratch
Scratching is a natural behaviour for your cat. And just because you are on an exciting road trip, it doesn’t mean they will stop it.
As such we recommend creating a place for them to scratch in your home on wheels.
Perhaps you have room to fit a small scratching pole? Or you could stick a scratching mat to a wall? Or even to the back of one your van chairs?
Items that Comfort Your Cat
All our cats have them, the toys, the blankets, the beds that make them happy.
To make your new home feel more homely include as many of these as possible. It will help keep them happy.
What About Cat Litter?
Kitty litter. A necessity that can sometimes be a pain in the backside.
However, your cat will need it. Unless they have been trained to use the toilet!
Where to Put the Kitty Litter Tray
You can find space under your bench seating or bed or in cabinets for your cat’s litter box. We really like this ingenious idea too!
If you have the luxury of a shower space, you can leave the kitty litter tray in there too. You will have to remove it every time you want to have a shower and may need to clean up some spilled kitty litter.
What Litter Tray to Use
You could also use one of these solutions for your kitty litter trays.
If you have a dedicated space for your cat’s litter tray, you can use a more permanent option, like a tray with a lid or a cover. Just bear in mind, that not all cat’s like to use these.
You know your cat the best and pick a solution that would work best for them.
Some Further Accessories
A litter trapping mat will really help control those messy moments where you find litter everywhere.
Another great idea is to Velcro the litter tray to the floor to help stop it from sliding everywhere!
Where Will Your Cat Eat & Drink
Develop a location where your cat will eat and drink. Ideally, this will always be the same as it will help create a routine for your cat.
We love the idea of using non-slip mats to stop the bowls from sliding around. Or you could use Velcro here too.
Your Cat’s Spot While You are Driving.
Our suggestion is that your cat is restrained while you are driving your home on wheels.
Keep this in mind while setting up your van and find a place where you cat will stay while you are in motion. Perhaps you will like the ideas here.
How to Train Your Cat to Travel In Your Motorhome/Van/RV aka Home on Wheels
As with anything in catexplorer training, start small.
Travel in the Car
If your cat hasn’t traveled extensively in the car, start there. Start with short trips around the block and slowly extend them. We recommend that you restrain your cat in a similar manner to how they will be restrained in your home on wheels.
Get Used to Your Motor Home
Before Purchasing a Camper Van
Purchasing a home on wheels is a big investment, and it may be disappointing if you discover that your cat isn’t up for the lifestyle.
With this in mind, we recommend that you hire a similar motor home that you are eyeing and take a trip with your cat. You will have to acclimatise them as below, but it may help you with your decision.
First, introduce your cat to the caravan while it is stationary. Give them a chance to sniff it out, climb on all the shelves.
And if you are gutting out a van and creating a home in it, why don’t you let your cat in while you’re doing so (and when it is safe to – don’t let them in if you are welding in there or doing something similar!).
Turn it on
Chances are, your camper van will make a lot of noises that will initially scare your cat.
While it is stationary, turn it on and let your cat sit in their restrained position. Comfort them if they are scared.
Once they are comfortable with the noises, start off with a few small drives and slowly increase these as they get acclimatised.
First Time Back
If it has been a while since your cat went travelling in your home on wheels, initially spend some time acclimatising them with it again.
Bear in mind that it might take your cat some time to get used to their new home. Don’t despair if this happens. You just need to show that this new home will take them on a new adventure that they will love.
And You’re Off, Living the #RVlife with Your Cat
This is the exciting part, giving your kitty the world while travelling in your motor home!
One way to keep your cat comfortable is to keep some form of routine, particularly when it comes to their feeding schedule.
It can be tempting to drive for hours at a time but your cat will feel bored and cooped up. We suggest you take breaks and go exploring with them.
And this will make it fun for both of you!
When You Stop Driving
When you stop for the day, you may feel comfortable letting your cat explore the area off leash. We recommend that you only do this if they have great recall skills.
Otherwise, you can use a yard tie. If you use your van as the yard tie, make sure you always check that your cat is not attached to it before moving the vehicle.
Another option is to set up an outdoor enclosure for your cat to watch the world go by.
The last thing you need while exploring is to have leakages of food and water all over your campervan.
We suggest you use leak-proof containers for your cat’s food and water.
Things to Think About When Travelling Long Term
Pre Plan Food & Litter Purchases
While you are traveling long term, it is likely that you will be going through some regional areas where your kitty’s special favourite food will not be available.
But in saying that, buying in bulk is not feasible when you have limited room.
One way to overcome this is to buy your cat food and litter online and have it shipped to a campground or caravan park that you will be visiting. You will need to check if this is ok with the management of these parks and will need to give them pre-warning.
What Will Happen To Your Cat in an Emergency – Your Will
This is something we don’t want to talk about. But with travel, there is a slightly increased chance that you may be in an accident.
In the case where something happens to you, those around you may not be aware of what your wishes are for your cat. As such we recommend having these wishes outlined somewhere in your motorhome.
Just as it is dangerous to leave a pet in a car during hot weather, the same can happen in a motor home.
The temperature can rise very quickly.
Keep this in mind while you are exploring.
If you have RV slides, makes sure your cats are secured and out of the way when moving your slides in or out.
We recommend that you have an emergency kit in your home on wheels. Some ideas of things you can include are:
First aid kit
Portable battery charger
Portable air pump
A calming spray like Feliway
At the end of the day, you know your cat, you know what they love and hate. You know how to adjust your van/RV/motor home to take this all into consideration.
And together you can see the world. What an amazing way to give your cat the world.
This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you, Catexplorer will receive a small commission, which helps us to continue to help you.