RVing with Cats

Taking a vacation to any destination requires thorough planning. With your mind focused on scheduling time off from work, booking amenities and packing, adding “find pet care” to the list can be overwhelming for even the most organized of vacation planners. Fortunately, when traveling with your RV you don’t have arrange pet care - just bring them with you. As one who grew up in a family whose definition of camping only included a tent, I was shocked when my husband shared with me that his family would bring their family dog and cat with them as they vacationed with their travel trailer. It made me realize, if an RV is simply a house on wheels, why can’t the house pets come along? Our little family of three has already carried on that tradition and convenience by bringing along our family cat. Kiss goodbye your days of searching for kennels or pet sitters! With just a few modifications and a little organization, you too can keep your RV both pet and family friendly on your next vacation.

Litter Box
When it comes to bringing your cat along, the number one concern to address is the litterbox. Sure, it can be set up anywhere, but do you really want to get so up close and personal with it on your vacation? At home, we can keep the litter box out of our living room, but in a trailer where you go from the kitchen to the front entrance in two steps we knew we didn’t want to see the litter box or heaven forbid chance stepping in it on a late-night trip to the bathroom! We knew the litterbox needed to be easily accessible for our cat, moderately accessible to us for cleaning, and in no way accessible to our 1 year old!  So, under the dinette bench it went.

Cut An Opening for the Cat

My husband started off by cutting an opening large enough for our cat in the side of one of our dinette benches using a jigsaw. We then positioned the litterbox in the far back corner. This made for plenty of room for our cat to walk in and out. It also helped provide a few steps for her to clear any stray litter from her feet before coming out from under the bench and returning to our open walkways. To ensure the litterbox wouldn’t slide around during travel we placed a non-skid liner underneath the litter pan. With just a quick modification to the side of our dinette panel we had the situation under control. Keeping the litterbox out of sight and fully contained really took the “eww” factor out of the whole thing.

Out of Site, Out of Mind

To clean the litterbox on the go, we simply lift the dinette seat cushion and the wooden base below and scoop the box clean. If space allows, you can store the litter sifter and spare litter under the bench as well. This continues to keep everything contained and out of reach from small children, dogs or other pets. We store a stash of plastic bags close by for placing soiled litter. While recycled grocery bags with no holes can work just fine, you may use disposable diaper bags or pet waste bags to ensure there is no damage to the bag and therefore no chance for any spillage over your clean floors.

Taking the "eww" factor out of the whole thing

The next necessity to address is where to store your cat’s food and water dish. Once again consider placing these items somewhere out of the walkway and out of reach (if needed) from small children or other pets. You may want to find an elevated location to store these. We found a small nook behind where we store our garbage can that provides easy access for our cat to get in and sit comfortably, while keeping it far from arms reach of our 1 year old. Regardless of your location, remember to store away or empty the water dish before traveling again to avoid any potential spills from occurring.

Pet Fur
With the basic necessities taken care of, now it’s time to focus on the cleanliness factor. While we all love our furry little friends, I’m sure at one point or another we’ve all struggled with the amount of loose fur or pet hair. While sharing tighter quarters than you may be used to at home, keeping loose fur at bay will maintain a clean-living environment as you move about your RV. As beautiful as our cat’s fur is, her constant shedding used to get the better of us. Over the years, we have found some great products that help keep this issue under control. If you want to bring your cat along without seeing traces of fur all over your RV, try out a few of these products that have made such a difference for us.

Start your trip off with a thorough brushing session with a brush that reaches down even to the base coat of fur. We swear by the Furminator. This brush works great on both dogs and cats and removes so much fur that you will be shocked how much could have ended up on your floors. And for those furry friends who don’t appreciate the added grooming, the Furminator removes hair fast and without discomfort so you can get the job done before the claws come out.

Another brushing option with amazing reviews is a pet grooming glove.

For additional pet hair removal I highly recommend getting a pet vacuum such as this one from Bissel. They now even make a cordless option which is great since it can be used when you’re not connected to power. I used to waste my time with the hose or brush of a standard vacuum trying to remove pet hair from furniture, curtains, you name it. The secret weapon for the pet vacuum seems to be the silicone brush on the end of the suction opening. It does an amazing job picking up fur from even the most covered of surfaces.

While traveling with your pets, please carefully consider the following for the safety of your pets:

Keep an eye on your window screens if your cat likes to claw or push on these at home. You don’t want to chance any dangerous falls or escape attempts.

When leaving your pet in your RV unattended set your thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature. Similar to a car, heat may rise quickly.

Keep food out of reach from your pet. Remember your trailer may be closer quarters than your home and therefore your pet may have easier access to counters, etc. Leaving food on the counter may be considered fair game for your pet.

Openings to the outdoors. If your cat is like ours, they love small cubbies. If you have a drawer or cupboard door that connects to a storage area with an external door keep that closed whenever not in use to again ensure you don’t risk any escape attempts.
Keep them comfy- if space allows you may consider bringing a pet bed. Or in our case, simply show your pet around the trailer at the start of your trip so they can get reacquainted with the space and find a cozy spot to lie down. Our cat loves the deep corner of the top bunk bed.

Taking all of the family with you in your RV

So, the next time you plan a vacation consider bringing along the whole family - furry friends included. No need to foot the bill for an expensive kennel or scramble to find a trustworthy pet sitter. Your pet will be in safe hands, right beside you and your family in your home away from home. Happy travels!

Emily Helgeson
Author: Emily Helgeson
Emily Helgeson lives with her husband and two children in Eastern Washington. They enjoy adventuring together and are learning how to use their RV to continue this lifestyle with their growing family.

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