RV Living with Cats? Here’s What You Need to Know.

By TC Wait

Many people take their dogs with them when they hit the road in their RVs.  More and more people are traveling with their kitty companions as well.  Having your furry buddy with you during your travels gives your trip more of a family feel, reduces stress, and saves money from having to board or find a pet sitter.

My cat is my co-pilot (Photo by TC Wait)


The Hayes family of Castle Rock, Colorado take their family pets (Molly the dog and Nickel the cat) with them on their adventures so that the whole family can enjoy camping together and seeing the sights.

Mom (Roxann) says to be sure to bring a kitty scratcher to keep your upholstered surfaces from being scratched, and a good harness and leash so your kitty can explore its surroundings.

Cats are great escape artists, so a well-fitted harness is better than a collar, and can also prevent neck injuries.  Be sure to attach identification tags with microchip information and a good phone number on it just in case!

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Get your kitty used to wearing a harness and walking on a leash before you travel with them. (Photo by Roxann Hayes)

The Hayes family starts their kitties getting used to wearing a harness and a leash while they are young around their yard for short excursions, but with patience, adult cats can learn to walk on a leash.  Taking short trips with your kitty in the car before your long trip will help your cat become accustomed to road travel.

The family has a truck/trailer set-up, and Roxann recommends that family pets travel in the truck when they are on the road.  This helps keep your pets safer and from getting stressed out that their human family isn’t with them while the rig is moving.

Using a travel crate with a soft bed inside will keep your kitty safely secured and out from under the driver’s feet while moving.  If you have a healthy adult cat, your kitty shouldn’t need a litter box unless your drive time will be more than about 6 hours.  The Hayes family keeps the litter box in the shower to prevent litter from being scattered around the RV and for easier cleanup.

If you have more than one cat, you can use a larger (dog-sized) airline crate and fit a piece of plywood between the two screw-together halves to make an upper loft area and lower area.

You can also use this system for longer trips and include a dishpan or disposable litter box, water dish (hydration is important), and cat bed.  Make sure your kitty is familiar with and will use her mobile environment before you travel in order to avoid problems on the road.

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The Hayes family camps with Molly the dog and Nickel the cat (Photo by Roxann Hayes)

Once you get to your campsite, let your kitty explore around the RV, but be careful not to let them escape out the door or window!

If you want to allow your kitty to experience the outside, you can use your harness and leash, or a covered portable cattery (be sure to supervise your cat at all times).

Another option is to use an enclosed window perch that can allow your cat to experience the outside environment from a safe enclosure. You may have to make some modifications based on your window design, but a couple of options are the Kitty Peeper from Cats with an Attitude and the Cat Solarium.  The Cat Solarium can be customized to fit horizontally or odd shaped windows.

Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before your trip to make sure your feline is up-to-date on shots, microchipped, and healthy for travel.  Depending on where you are traveling, your vet may recommend parasite control or other suggestions to keep your kitty healthy and safe.

If you are traveling out of your home state, check with the State Veterinarian’s Office for the state you are traveling to for additional requirements you may need to travel with your cats.

The US Department of Agriculture has a handy website that will direct you to the right place.  If you are traveling out of the country, you will need to research requirements for the country you are traveling to.

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