Cats and RVs are not a great mix, but I am going to share with you what I have learned.
The simple fact is that while I am not a fan of cats, I also never advocate for getting rid of family pets. When you take a pet into your home you need to take care of it. I hate it when I hear stories of people who give away family pets to a shelter or a neighbor or a friend. It usually makes me feel really bad. Sometimes the animals trade up to a better family, but it usually is just one careless person pawning off a pet mouth to someone else. If you want a pet, please keep the pet, or don’t bother taking it in your house in the first place.
I wrote that long preamble to explain why my cat came with us. RVing with a pet is a pain! So many people travel in RVs with their pets that you would think it would be easy. RVing with pets limits how you RV. You can’t leave your RV with a dog or cat in the Walmart parking lot in 90 degree weather while you tour the town. An RV is like a car – it superheats – its not a climate controlled apartment for your dog, cat, bird or fish.
I won’t attempt to blog about RVing with pets in general, but I will share what I learned about cats.
Where is my Cat?
You would be surprised at what you can lose in an RV. For us, we have lost the cat a few times. Once we lost the cat for almost 2 days. We finally found him crawling around inside the dashboard. Yes the dashboard! He crawled under the dashboard and behind the center console. He was so scared he just hid there for 2 days. It was purely accidental we found him.
We also lost our cat one winter day. We lost him for almost the entire day until we heard him meowing. He apparently figured out how to unlatch a drawer. He then jumped behind the drawer. In the morning we just shut the drawer and he was stuck there. To make matters worse he was sleeping in the wiring to the fuse panel. Nothing bad happened, and now the drawer is duct taped shut!
We also lost the cat when he climbed into cupboards, under beds and into the back of closets. Once I turned on the shower and a wet cat flew out behind the curtain. I am just saying, cat proofing an RV is a trial and error process that rivals toddler proofing. You will never know the tenacity of your cats ability to hide until you experience it for yourself.
Food & Water
You need a place to feed and water a cat. This is pretty tricky. Cats spill things, cats puke, cats make a mess. Our food station for the cat is in our main living area against a wall under the tv. When we move we just have to move the dishes to the hallway.
The big issue is floorspace in an RV is at a premium, and no matter where you place the dish, you will end up kicking the dishes a few times until you adjust. Moving the dishes cause chaos because you need to relearn your muscle memory.
Some newer RVs are starting to add in animal feeding stations. They seem like a good idea, but I can still see myself kicking the dish holder out of the wall. You will have to really think about where you will put the dish. Many cats graze all night. You don’t want your cat crunching food in your bedroom at night, and you don’t really want him barfing over his food in the kitchen while you eat.
You will have to just examine your RVs layout and find the best compromise.
Kitter litter is the final RV bane. A litter box is huge, and unless cleaned daily, is usually a little stinky. We do not clean our litter daily. We need to keep it hidden.
Lots of people just suck it up and clean the litter whenever the cat uses it. If that is you, Congratulations! You win the cat litter cleaning trophy. If you clean it immediately then you can keep the litter box in the bathroom or your bedroom, or someplace more open.
We ended up cutting holes into the side of our kitchen booth and shoving a cat box into the box. This way the smell is contained, and the letterbox is out of sight. Many RVs now have drawers under the booth. In this case you could just remove the drawer. Then once or twice a week you pull out the box and empty it out.
Our cat throws litter everywhere. We ended buying puppy pads. They are essentially gigantic absorbent mats for potty training dogs. You can get them in most places that sell pet supplies. This pad collects all the excess mess if the cat misses the litter box.
Every week we just throw out the pad and litter and refill.
Furniture is a problem with cats. If you are hardcore and manage to declaw your cat, you will be fine, but most people at least let their cats keep the back fingers. Our cat has all 4 claws. Currently our booth is a little torn up, some carpet under the dashboard is torn, and our leather captains chairs have microscopic holes in the leather.
Nothing is ruined, but our RV looked brand new when we started. The furniture in an RV is not what I would call quality. I could fix the the booth in about 2 hours – I just need to staple some fabric over the rough spot. You can’t see the carpet under the dash, and the chairs look fine.
If I could do it again I would get seat covers or fabric to keep on the tops of the leather chairs covered. I also would pre-train the cat to use a scratching post. Over the years our cat has settled down and quit ripping the place up, but if you plan ahead you can protect your RV interior better then we did.
If you look at other blogs of flutters with cats you will see blankets and other fabrics artfully displayed. These textiles are not art displays – they are fancy hipster ways to protect the furniture.
The downside of animals in the RV is that you essentially have an animal in a car. It gets really hot and really cold in the RV. My cat hears the heater click on in the winter and runs over to the vent to absorb the sweet heat of our propane furnace.
If we are going to be gone for a day we still need to open windows and / or adjust the air conditioning so our animal doesn’t get heat stroke.
Many parks also charge premiums for animals. We never mention we have a cat because we don’t intend to take it outside and let it play. If you have a dog, you have to worry about it barking, and if you have fish you need to worry about your water supply.
Having a family pet has its moments. I am not sad we have our cat with us, but if you plan on brining a pet please put some thought into your pets care.