How to Travel with Cats in an RV - An Ultimate Guide
If you plan to travel with cats in an RV, there are ways to prepare first and tips you can use to make your travel and your cat’s travel as comfortable as possible. It can add a great deal of pleasure to your travel time to take your cats along, and they can enjoy it too.
It is much easier to travel by RV with your cats than it is to travel by car. The RV allows plenty of space to have play, feeding, and toileting stations for your cats. The initial key is the preparation. To develop your plan, consider what your cats will need.
Planning to Travel with Cats in an RV
Some cats prefer to travel in a quiet space and others are comfortable moving around a vehicle, but for safety, it is best for most cats to be inside a comfortable crate while you are on the move. A loose cat in an RV might be fine until something goes wrong, but the last thing you need while driving is to have a cat underfoot or to lose your precious feline during an unplanned stop. You’ll also have to consider the physical and mental needs your cats will have when you take a break or stop for overnights.
Think about special needs or emergency situations. You will want to have basic first-aid items for yourself and your cats. Whether your pets get a minor injury or you get a bite or scratch, you won’t want to have to go searching for a drugstore or pet store. Some cat-safe medications to bring along may include topical antibiotics, motion sickness medication approved by your vet, and any natural or prescription calming aids recommended by your vet. If your cat has a need for special items like hairball medication or prescription medications for known health conditions, make sure to bring these along. If you plan to take prescription sedatives, be sure to use them at home first. Some cats react poorly to sedatives while others do well on them.
Special Tip: Write down the phone number for your local veterinarian and tape it inside your first aid kit. Although you probably have it stored on smart devices, you could get caught with a dead phone battery. Even if you travel far from your vet, they know your cats and may be able to advise you or recommend places to get help in a crisis.
There are quite a number of items to decide on before you leave for your RV trip with cats. You should already have crates and they should be large enough for your cat to turn around in and stand up. If you won’t be able to stop for long periods of time, you will have to decide if you want a portable litter box station inside one or more large crates or if you want to put small litter boxes inside larger crates for each cat. Other gear to consider includes:
- Clean bedding or blankets
- Towels for cleanup or to replace soiled bedding if necessary
- Food and water bowls and storage containers
- Natural anxiety aids such as Rescue Remedy, Feliway or a pressure vest such a Thundershirt
- Favorite toys that are good for interacting with your cats as well as toys your cats can play with alone while you are busy
- Cat harnesses and leashes can be handy if you plan to take our cats out of the RV or to keep for emergencies if you have to make a vet stop
- Litter boxes, litter, and scoops
- Trash bags to transport waste and disposable gloves to wear during cleanups
- Hand sanitizer for after litter box cleanings
Special Tip: If your cats do well with it, you can purchase extra lightweight litter that is easier to carry when on the road.
Arranging for Your Setup
Before you leave for your trip, study your RV and think about where items will be located or stored. Where will you put litter boxes or crates? Do you have areas under an existing table or inside a bathroom that would be usable? Can you make special easy-reach areas by modifying built-in furniture? Don’t forget that if you make short stops, you need to be able to move around the RV. If you may need to make stops for naps or fuel, don’t place large items where you won’t be able to get to all parts of the RV.
You may have one arrangement plan that will work during travel and another that will be in place when you stop for overnights. If so, practice setting up for that before you actually go and see how well it works. Bring your cats in and familiarize them with everything before you go on a real trip.
Special Tip: if your cats have claws and you want them to scratch in preferred areas, you may want to bring a scratching post to incorporate into a play area. Catnip can make the desired scratching area more desirable.
If you have a cat that does well at home but tends to use claws while on the road, a claw trim before the trip can help. If that isn’t enough, you can purchase nail caps that can be attached to the claws with special glue. These will stay on for as long as two weeks if placed correctly. A groomer can put them on for you if you prefer it, but you should know how to replace one while traveling.
Cats can become dehydrated easily even at home and this problem can be exacerbated while traveling. The wild cousins of your cats get most of their water from eating prey. You can mimic this by offering canned food as a part of your cat’s diet and add water if this helps the cat to drink more. Take empty clean water containers with some water that is the same as what your cats drink at home, or get your cats used to a common brand of bottled water before you leave. Not all cats will drink water from sources that change constantly.
If your cats get diarrhea while traveling, you should make extra-sure they are getting more water to replace lost fluids. If the problem resolves itself in a day, you may be able to continue normal travels and offer normal food, as long as the cat is not also vomiting. If your cats develop issues with nausea on the road, you may need to stop for an overnight or two, allow your cat to recover and have limited food, and provide as much fresh water as possible. If the issue goes on for longer, call your veterinarian for advice.
Special Tip: If your cat is a fussy drinker and doesn’t seem to drink enough on the road, you may want to take along a small electric or battery operated water fountain. A special fountain for cats is fine or any food-safe fountain. Cats like running water and may drink more when given this option.
Preparing for Good Rest
When you stop to sleep, being closed in an RV with one or more cats can turn into a circus! If your cats have been crated for a while, they may be excited to be out. An excellent way to deal with the excess energy is to have some play time and stimulate your cat’s senses. If you have a TV or radio, turn it on. If you are meeting friends or family, have them interact with your cats unless this causes anxiety. Bring interactive toys such as “kitty fishing rods” or a stick with a string and toy. Get your cats moving around until they start to tire and then offer fresh water. Many cats will drink and eat, use their litter box and then be sleepy. Try to time this with your sleeping time for the best results.
Traveling with cats in an RV can be a wonderful experience for you, your family and your pets. With the right gear and preparation, you will be equipped for the best travel time you’ve had!