Normally, my humans never allow me to post.  However, I felt strongly about this subject and promised I would keep my profanity to a minimum if I was allowed to write this article since I am the pro: How to Travel with Cats in an RV.

Let me begin by introducing myself.  I am Singa, the better looking and pure bread of the lot of us.  (no there is nothing wrong with my eye, I am winking at you)  I was “rescued” so you call it.  But until we hit the road I would have called it a transfer.  Don’t get me wrong, Jason and Nikki are great most days but being stuck in a building looking out at a patch of grass and a parking lot wasn’t exactly what I would call freedom.

My life truly began the day we hit the open road and during our travels we’ve seen all types of humans with us felines on the road.  One thing’s for sure a human can bring a lot of joy and companionship to your RV travels, however if they are not prepared they can also bring a lot of heartache.  You wouldn’t believe all the whining they did at one of our last emergency room visits.  I mean come on, I was the one stuck wearing the cone and having medicine crammed in all directions and I think you know what I mean by ALL directions!

Travel can be great if you are prepared and take the time to get to know our preferred travel habits and styles (not all of us like the solitary chambers) things can go great.  Here are a few things to consider on our perfectly groomed furry behalves before you hit the road.

Decide what type of Cat you have:

  • Inside Only – If you have unwillingly declawed one of us (you know who you are) or never let us roam free, a bit of leash training might be a good idea.  Believe me; we don’t like the idea anymore than you do at first.
  • Outside Only – Don’t expect and outside cat to willingly be ‘stuck’ inside the RV all the time. You’ll need to devote a lot of time walking and stimulating your cat before going on the road.  Bring your cats indoors daily to get them used to life inside.  Just remind them it’ll be worth it when they get a new yard to roam all the time.
  • Inside and Outside – A great start for an RV friendly cat. Practice “escaping” and “recall” at your home.  Yes, you call it “escape” and “recall” we call it “going for a walk” and “just needed some personal space”.  Understand which toys and treats will get your cat to come back inside when it’s time to go.  You can whistle all day long but we are not dogs and refuse to lower ourselves to such a calling.
  • Follower or Loaner – When you walk in your yard does your cat follow you? How about when you walk down the alley or street? Some cats enjoy following along for a walk with you wherever you go, and others will lose interest after a few seconds (don’t take it personal, some of us can be real dogs sometimes).  Loaners are best left on a leash (just like a dog, ha).
  • Both Cleo (my adopted sister) and I are followers. We can pretty much go anywhere without having a panic attack.  We especially love trails where there is a path to follow.  We’ve even taken 2 mile hikes, we love being outside with our humans.

Get your Cat used to RV travel:

  • Load your cat into a pet carrier and take a few short (20 mile or so) trips in your car. They will likely cry the majority of the time (hello unstable environment).  Do this a few times over a 1 week period.
  • If all goes well it’s time to take the cats on their first camping trip. Be cautious for escapees. Don’t assume they won’t run through the screen door (been there, done that). This trip should be focused on pampering your cats with treats, petting, toys, do everything you can to make them feel comfortable (trust me, pampering works).  If all is well, try taking your cats on a leash walk.
  • We took to RV’ing well. We go on walks on (and off) leash depending on the location, during driving we curl up and sleep and we get to stretch our legs at the same time as Jason and Nikki on long driving days.

There are a few things you must have for your cat while traveling:

  • Hard Sided Pet carrier – A soft sided carrier is not sturdy and many cat hotels only allow a hard sided carrier for that reason.
  • Airtight Food Storage – BPA free airtight container will keep pests out of any extra food you have on board (it also keeps the food fresh).
  • Microchip – Make sure your cats have a microchip with your current phone numbers and address in case they get lost during travel.  (not that I have ever gotten lost, I knew exactly where I was)
  • Elastic Pet Collar – A standard breakaway collar will simply ‘pop’ off under any stress leaving your cat without i.d. tags. The collars with elastic built in simply stretch if your cat is caught on something; this allows them to back out of the collar when it’s being pulled.
  • Veterinarian Papers – Keep your cats up to date on their shots, and keep the records inside your RV. If there is an emergency or if you need to board your cat you will be required to show papers.  Also when crossing the border you’ll need their records, and maybe some special papers to show they belong to your family, check with the country weeks before entering.
  • Prescriptions – You can have prescriptions mailed to your campground or USPS “General Delivery” in the town you’re staying in. Make sure you discuss your travels with your Vet, typically if your pet needs a written prescription your vet can order and mail to you.
  • Good Litter – An RV is a small space, so purchase the best odor fighting litter with the least amount of dust. Since we’re eco minded we use an all natural litter, I just don’t like the idea of chemicals so close to my neither region.  My tongue comes in direct contact will all that.
  • Living Will – If something should happen to you during your travels, and your cats survive, make sure you have a living will that includes what you’d like to do with them. If you do not they could end up in a shelter or worse.
  • Budget – Costs to have your cats on the road with you can escalate quickly. Make sure you’ve considered this in your budget as you never know when we may need to be boarded, or go into the emergency room.

With a little training and some extra special pampering, you and your cats will be ready to hit the road!  Just look at me, RV life is the tops!

***Update 01/2013***

Shipping Pet Meds – Many people have asked how we get our pet meds on the road. Since we’re on the move constantly we use 1800petmeds and have our items shipped to the next RV resort we’re planning to arrive at. Just make sure you alert the RV resort beforehand, and confirm how they like to receive mail (i.e. Attn: Guest or Attn: Manager, etc).

Calm a Cat - We have never needed to calm our pets as they have behaved well on the road. If you are concerned about your cat getting a little anxious you can look into ‘Rescue Remedy’ or ‘Feliway Spray’ available at most pet stores. We’ve asked several veterinarians on the road about their personal recommendations for anxious cats during travel, and both these products seem to come up each time.

Crossing the Border – We have crossed into Canada, and back into the USA a couple times now without any issue. Make sure you have all the paperwork for your pets, for the cats an up to date Rabies Vaccination (every 3 years) and the yearly FVRCP are most important, but sometimes you must have other shots up to date. Ask your vet, many have dealt with these issues before.

Letting your Cat outside – Some RV resorts allow you to let your cats outdoors and others do not. Don’t think you can let your cat run free at a State Park or National Park, if they get caught you can get kicked out or worse (i.e. a giant fine if you cat kills a bird or animal). We are comfortable leaving the door open at most resorts as Cleo will usually hang out at the step, and Singa will go out and explore. Both cats all come back, every time, no issue. If you let your cats out, be prepared to get yelled at by dog owners, grumpy old men, and the RV park manager. Singa gets in trouble often, and at that point we either wait for that person to leave the park, or we simply lock him inside and take him on leashed walks only. It’s a total pain but we do realize not everyone loves cats.