Traveling in an RV may not be your cat's idea of a good time, but if RVing with a cat is something you're considering, here are some ways to make it a more pleasant experience for everyone involved.
1. Give your cat time to get used to the RV. We live in our RV, so to our cat the RV is just home, but it wasn't that way at first. Kitty spent his first few days in the RV hiding, only coming out for meals and to use his litter box. To help your cat get used to RV life, I suggest giving it as much time as possible to explore your camper or motorhome in peace and quiet prior to taking off on your trip. A pheromone plug-in or spray might help your cat feel safer also.
2. Associate the RV with good things. If your cat is afraid, it may not initially be interested in bribes, but as quickly as possible, let your kitty know the RV is a place with lots of treats and cuddles.
3. Give your cat somewhere safe and secure to ride. If you have a pull-behind trailer, your cat will be much safer riding with you in a carrier until you reach your destination. We use a large pop-up carrier with space for a litter box inside. If you have a motorhome, provide your cat with somewhere cozy and comfortable to ride where it will be safe from accidental sudden stops or swerves.
4. Take every safety precaution. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
5. Protect your RV from kitty claws. Make sure you provide a scratching post or pad for your cat, and protect your furniture as needed. I protected an arm of my sofa by covering it with clear vinyl (a cut-up shower curtain) secured with spiral upholstery pins (please don't use these if there are babies in your RV!).
6. Give your cat a spot to look out a window. My cat's favorite activity is watching people, birds, and dogs out the windows of our RV, so I have provided several spots where he can sit and see out, and I even hung bird feeders on the outside of one window using heavy duty adhesive hooks.
7. Find an out-of-the-way place to hide the litter box. We put our cat's litter box in the storage area under the RV and made a tunnel leading to that area. Some people put the litter box inside a cabinet and replace the doors with a curtain. Others install a cat door in the side of a storage ottoman, or in the side of their dining booth or bed with the litter box kept underneath. Just be sure that wherever you put the litter box, your cat knows where to find it!
8. Provide a way for your cat to spend time outdoors. Some cats may be content to spend all their time indoors, but a more adventurous cat may appreciate having a way to get some sunshine and fresh air. I have seen people construct a "catio" and attach it to an RV window or open storage bay. We actually leash trained our cat (with a LOT of patience!) so he can roam around wearing his harness on a long retractable leash while we're sitting outside.
Hopefully, these tips will give you the confidence to know that it is actually possible to travel in an RV with a cat!
Ashley Mann is a full time RVer with a website about ideas for RV organization, decor, and full time living. She has also written an eBook that helps RV owners identify spots for storage they might not have thought of.