Can I travel with cats and still keep them happy?

By Tiffany Baierl, with editors Odin, Rain and Zoe

So, as you probably have figured out, we have cats and when we started thinking about our RV adventure, their quality of life was definitely a huge factor in our decision to become full time RV-ers.


Fortunately, we have always had multiple cats and pretty much knew how to make them comfortable, but it was still a huge worry.

So, if you are thinking about traveling with your cats, it can be done and I put together a little guidebook for you below.

If you’ve done some reading on cats, it’s recommended to have one litter box per cat plus one. That would mean we would have 4 litter boxes in an RV, this was not going to work. Not because we didn’t want to, but we simply don’t have enough room. So, what do we do? We have one very large litter box and a small one, almost mini, kitten size. I know this doesn’t seem practical, but bear with me on this one…

  • Litter Box Size: A large litter box is imperative and it’s important to have all 4 sides, 3 sides at minimum, of the litter box exposed so the cats don’t feel claustrophobic in the already small spaces. It’s a good way to help with territorial issues too when it comes to a litter box. A good, large uncovered litter box is important too. Covered boxes are designed for the human, not the cat, so when a box is covered and the cat can’t see out all sides, this can increase nervousness and behavioral issues. A covered litter box also keeps all those smells inside. Just think of a port-a-potty, we’ve all been in one and a covered litter box is the cat version of one. Yuck. Leaving your box uncovered will help them feel safer and healthier. The mini box is for backup, traveling size and also putting a small box somewhere that won’t take up too much space. We also will be doing a litter review in the near future so that you choose the best litter for your travels. You can see the one we use below. We love it. It’s a sifting litter box and is so easy to clean. The other one with the top, is one we have used in our apartment we like. If you must have a cover, this one is nice because the cover is see through. You may think these are crazy prices for boxes, but trust me. You wouldn’t skimp on your own toilet, so don’t skimp on theirs.
  • Cleaning: Okay, I know what you’re thinking, one box is going to mean more cleaning. Well, yes, it will, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or annoying. The trick? Clean it every day. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s not only healthier for you, your cats and your environment, but it prevents odor and prevents the cat from using another source as a bathroom (laundry basket, couch…ect). Cleaning it daily is much easier too due to the fact that the cats are not going to the bathroom on top of piles of waste, making a big pile and then resulting in you needing to buy more litter too soon. The scoop below is the one we have we like it because the scoop is in it’s own container so the dirty scoop won’t touch carpet or other clean surfaces.
  • Scratching: Our cats don’t scratch furniture. We have pretty much trained them not to and haven’t had trouble in our apartments because of this, but changing their environment is going to cause them to explore surfaces and scratching may happen, so patience is key. Get a few small scratching posts, scratching pads, you can even get scratching material like sisal rope that wraps around chair and table legs. Cats love different surfaces. We had a cat that only liked flat scratchers while another loves posts. As long as they have items that they know are specifically for scratching, they will most likely stay away from couch and chairs. Another option is sticky tape. You can get regular double-sided tape or a tape, like the one below, that is made for deterring them to scratch. I used this to help train my cats and it works like a charm. Once they realize they don’t want to scratch a surface that sticks to their paws, they won’t try it again and you can remove the tape.Below are a few scratching items we love and we have found cats love too.
  • Territory: Territory is a huge thing for all animals and cats especially. We have three cats who get along, but also prefer to stay out of one another’s way. A great way to get some neutral territory is make sure each kitty has a space of their own. Whether it be a bed for each one, a little cubby for one cat and a cat house for another or even just opposite ends of your bed. If your cats feel like they all getting the equal amount of affection from their human, you may not have to step in to break up those little squabbles. The cat house below is similar to what we have and our cats love to hide in those or just stay warm on chilly nights without fighting over who gets the best part of the bed by their human.20170317_070551000_iOS
  • Food: If you aren’t traveling yet, make sure you have a food routine down now. We used to feed all our cats with different bowl and we do occasionally now, but it’s very hard to keep that going when we are on the move all the time. If you are planning on staying at campgrounds or boon docking, then giving them all separate bowls is doable. Also, make sure your feeding routine is down prior to traveling. Do you want to free-feed? Do you want specific feeding times? Do you want wet food, dry food or both? These may seem like simple things, but they do make a big difference. We feed our cats morning and evening, but do like to have a little bit of food in the bowl due to the fact that not all cats eat at the same time. I think that mainly depends on who gets to the food bowl the fastest. I make sure they each get their meals, but I also make sure they have a little bit to snack on. Just don’t overdo it, otherwise they will overeat and this may cause more vomiting or weight gain since they most likely have less space to run off that energy. The food bowl below is the one we use. It’s raised, for better digestion, and holds all the food right in the bottom compartment. It also comes with stainless steel bowls you can remove and wash and the entire thing is really easy to wipe out.
  • Toys: This is a must. They need to stay enriched and active so they don’t get bored. Boredom can cause behavioral issues such as scratching, going to the bathroom where you don’t want them to and destructive behavior. Find a toy each cat loves independently. Not all cats are the same. Our kitten loves these little cat-safe springs, our adult girl cat loves kickers and our scaredy cat loves stuffed animals. Get them a variety of toys that you won’t mind throwing away after a while either. Toys are extremely affordable now and buying them something expensive is honestly just a waste of money. The best toy of all? Boxes. In fact, buy yourself a gift and save the box for a couple days. They will get a ton of play out of it and when they are done they will just stop playing in it, you can just throw it away. You can even make little houses or puzzle games from shoe boxes and shipping boxes. Cut holes in them, put toys in the box or treats and show them. They will be entertained and happier if they are able to use their natural hunting instincts by finding their treats in a box. A simple cat wand is great too. Cheap and easy to store and they love it! Below are the spring toys our kitten loves. They are safe and our kitten hasn’t chewed or even tried to eat one. He loves playing fetch with them too and for the price, you can throw one out when it’s been overused and not worry about wasting too much money on a toy.

Check out this article on how to make cat toys!

7 Cat Food Puzzle Toys You Can Make

A video on how to make cat toys with household items you might already have.

These are just a few ways to keep your kitties happy and healthy. I want to know what you do to keep them happy on the road. And don’t forget the pups! We want to know your tips and tricks for them too!

(This article was written with close supervision by Odin, Rain and Zoe.

Enjoy your travels!


Former Veterinary Student and Cat Mama

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