Copyright © 2023 by Carmen Klassen
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
The information in this book is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only based on our own experiences traveling with our own cats. If you have any concerns or questions about traveling with your cat, you should talk to your vet or another qualified professional who is familiar with your cat specifically and its limitations or special requirements.
Published by Jewelspride Publishing
Cover design photo credit: Yvette Simpson; Cat is Jewelspride HeyZeus
This book is protected under the copyright laws of Canada. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or photographs contained herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.
Welcome to our comprehensive guide for RV travel with cats. As breeders of Bengal cats for over a decade, our family has come to understand the unique needs and considerations that come with traveling with a feline companion. Our experience not only includes raising cats but also traveling and showing our cats in Canada and the United States, giving us a well-rounded perspective on what it takes for a successful and comfortable road trip with a cat. Many of our kitten clients are avid travelers as well and some of their adventures and photos have inspired me to write this book
In this book, we will be providing valuable tips and advice on how to make the most of your RV road trip with your cat, based on our own experiences and the experiences of clients of ours who travel with their cats regularly. We will tell you about everything you need to keep your cat safe and entertained while on the road - giving examples wherever possible - such as the best outdoor enclosures, portable cat exercise wheels, toys that take up less space, travel carriers, cat food, and litter. We will also put in-text links to recommended products and services when we can, to help you find and choose the best options for your unique travel needs to make your trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible. So, whether you're a seasoned RV traveler or a first-time cat owner, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to have a safe and enjoyable trip with your beloved cat. With the right preparation and equipment, you and your cat can have a fantastic time exploring the great outdoors together. So, read on, and let's get ready for an adventure on the road!
A travel carrier for your cat is the top item on our list of necessities for cat travel. A travel carrier can not only keep your cat safe, secure, and comfortable during the driving portions of an RV road trip, but it can also keep the driver safe as well.
When a cat is loose in an RV, they can become a distraction to the driver by jumping on their lap or getting underfoot. This can cause the driver to lose focus and make mistakes on the road, which can be dangerous for everyone. A travel carrier keeps your cat in a designated space, reducing the chances of them becoming a distraction to the driver.
Additionally, in the event of an accident, a travel carrier can help protect your cat from injury and keep them secure. Cats can become easily frightened during a stressful situation and may try to escape or hide, which can be dangerous during an accident. A travel carrier can provide a safe and secure space for your cat to stay while you deal with the situation.
Lastly, some states and provinces have laws that prohibit animals loose in the car, and a travel carrier can be seen as compliance with such laws, keeping the driver safe from legal issues.
When it comes to traveling with your cat, one important aspect to consider is the type of travel carrier you will use. There are two main types of travel carriers: hard carriers and soft carriers. Each type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks when it comes to your cat's safety and enjoyment. The most important thing is to make sure your cat is familiar with the one you’ll be taking on the road well before you leave on your trip. You want it to feel cozy and familiar to them while you travel.
Hard carriers are typically made of plastic or metal and offer a high level of protection for your cat. They are strong and durable, and provide a secure and stable environment for your cat, which can be especially helpful for cats that are anxious or stressed during travel. However, hard carriers can be less comfortable for your cat, especially during longer trips, and they may not provide as much ventilation as soft carriers.
Soft carriers, on the other hand, are typically made of fabric or mesh and can sometimes offer a higher level of comfort for your cat. They are lighter and easier to move, so they are good for road trips. They also provide more ventilation, which can help keep your cat cool and comfortable during travel. However, soft carriers do not offer as much protection as hard carriers.
There are also brands and options that can be expanded to give your cat more room to move around and stretch, making the trip more comfortable for them. An added bonus is that this type of carrier can be used as a temporary indoor home for your cat while you're parked at a campground or other destination. There are some great travel carriers that expand to two or three times their size, allowing you to convert a confined carrier into a more spacious enclosure for your cat to stretch out and move around in. There are so many options for expandable travel carriers on the market now that it’s easy to find one to meet any cat’s needs or any owner’s budget.
When choosing between a hard carrier and a soft carrier, it's important to consider the nature of your trip and your cat's individual needs. For long trips or air travel, a hard carrier may be the best option for safety and security. But for shorter trips or cats who like to be more comfortable, a soft carrier that can be expanded may be a better option.
Both hard carriers and soft carriers have their own set of benefits and drawbacks when it comes to the safety and enjoyment of your cat. It's important to consider the nature of your trip and your cat's individual needs when choosing between the two.
The next thing on our road trip checklist, and also related to your cat’s safety, is proper identification. Be sure to pack a recent photo of your cat (even if your phone has 1000 photos of your cat on it, phones can die or become lost while traveling), veterinary records, and any other identification documents. In case your cat gets lost or stolen, a recent photo will help others you meet along your journey identify and locate it. Also, having a copy of your cat's veterinary records, including the microchip number, will help you prove ownership and make sure that your cat gets the right medical care if it gets lost.
Collars are a simple and effective way to allow others to identify your cat if he is lost or stolen while you’re traveling. Your phone number and address should be clearly visible on your cat's collar or ID tag. This will allow anyone who finds your cat to quickly contact you and have a better chance of being able to return him to you. There are many kinds of cat ID collars available, which can be a vital first step to helping ensure your cat is returned to you safely if it escapes or wanders off unexpectedly.
Before you go on your trip, you should also register your cat's microchip with a national database if you haven’t already done so and make sure your contact information is up-to-date in case it changes. This way, even if your cat gets lost far from home, anyone who finds them will be able to contact you. We’ve seen cats lost or stolen over the years, and sometimes the owners are impossible to find despite our best efforts because of outdated records or non-registered microchips. Each kitten that leaves us is automatically registered to our cattery, but if the owner has not taken the time to also register themselves to the microchip, it makes it very difficult for breeders, veterinarians, or rescue agencies to help reunite an owner with their cat.
A GPS pet tracker is an excellent way to “level up” your safety game and give you extra peace of mind while traveling with your cat. These devices typically come in the form of a small, lightweight GPS device that attaches to your cat's collar. The device then communicates with your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to track your cat's location in real-time. Some GPS trackers also come with built-in activity monitors that can help you keep track of your cat's daily activity levels and monitor their health.
Many GPS pet trackers offer a variety of features, such as geofencing, which allows you to set up a virtual boundary around a specific area and sends you an alert if your cat goes beyond that boundary. Some GPS trackers also offer a feature called "location history," which shows you where your cat has been over a certain period of time. Some even have a two-way audio feature that you can use to call your pet and locate them if they are hiding or lost. Most “smart” GPS trackers have worldwide tracking systems in place, which is exactly what travelers need.
When selecting a GPS pet tracker for your cat, it's important to consider the size and weight of the device as well as its battery life. Look for a device that is lightweight and small enough that it won't be uncomfortable or restrictive for your cat to wear. Also, make sure the device has a long battery life so you don't have to worry about charging it all the time.
Whether you’re traveling by motorhome, trailer, or tent trailer, one of the most exciting things to do with your cat on a road trip is to get out and enjoy the terrain and amazing scenery with them. If the weather is nice and you’re spending most of your time outside of the RV, then it's essential to have an outdoor enclosure on board for your cat. This will allow your cat to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine with you while you're parked at a campground without the risk of them wandering off or getting lost. Look for an enclosure that is sturdy and secure, with a roof to protect your cat from the sun and rain. When choosing an outdoor enclosure, it's important to consider the size, security, and durability of the enclosure.
A larger, outdoor cat enclosure is a really great option for extended RV travel with an active cat, as it provides a large, safe and secure space for your cat to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine on a regular basis. These types of enclosures are typically made of durable metal materials such as aluminum or steel and are designed to be set up outside of the RV while you are stationary.
When choosing an outdoor cat enclosure, look for one that is large enough for your cat to move around in comfortably and that has a secure and sturdy door or gate to prevent your cat from escaping. Also, make sure that the enclosure is made of durable metal materials that can withstand the elements and that it is easy to set up and take down.
It's a good idea to put a roof over the enclosure to protect your cat from the sun - this can be as simple as a small tarp, or piece of wood that can be secured to the top.
Consider adding a small foldable cat tree inside the outdoor enclosure. I can also be brought into the RV for use during travel. It provides a comfortable and secure space for your cat to rest and scratch - both indoors and out - which can help to keep their claws healthy and prevent destructive scratching inside your RV. It's also simple to fold up and store when not in use.
Small foldable cat trees are typically made of durable materials such as wood or fabric and sometimes feature multiple levels, platforms, and scratching posts. They are designed to be compact and lightweight, making them easy to transport and store. They also come in a variety of sizes and designs, so you can choose one that is appropriate for your cat's size and needs, as well as the available space onboard your rig.
When using a large outdoor cat enclosure, it's important to place it in a well-ventilated area, away from vehicle emissions and any sources of heat or direct sunlight. Also, make sure to supervise your cat while they are in the enclosure to ensure their safety. Set it up in an area where you’ll be spending most of your outdoor time. It’s also a good idea to make sure that the metal is coated or treated to prevent rust and corrosion in case it’s left outdoors for an extended period of time, to ensure that the enclosure will last for a long time.
A larger, sturdy outdoor cat enclosure is a must-have for RV travel with a cat if you plan to spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors and don’t want to leave your travel companion locked up indoors without you.
Portable cat tent: These are extra lightweight and easy to set up, and some are made of waterproof material and have a mesh roof, which allows your cat to enjoy the fresh air. While providing the minimum security benefits of all the enclosure options discussed, they are still a great way to provide an efficient barrier to keep your cat contained while enjoying some time outdoors with you enjoy the campsite and keep watch.
Large enclosures are not always convenient to transport, and may not even be necessary if you’re not spending a ton of time stationary and will just be driving most of the time rather than camping. There are smaller and less expensive options available for these types of road trips:
Portable pen or playpen: this can be set up on a campsite or even inside your RV. These are usually made of mesh or nylon, are super lightweight, and can be folded for easy storage. They come in a variety of sizes and provide a secure space for your cat to play and explore for a short period of time, but your cat should not be left alone in them if you choose to go for a hike, or other outing and leave them behind. It would be easy for a larger animal to tear or break into the pen and your cat could be lost or injured.
These outdoor enclosure options are campsite-friendly and can be set up on a variety of surfaces, including grass, gravel, or pavement. They are also easy to clean and maintain and provide a secure and comfortable space for your cat to enjoy indoors and out while on the road.
You may have a cat who is used to hitting the trails with you or going on daily strolls around the neighborhood when at home. With a cat like this, you’ll want to keep to a regular walking routine while on the road as well. Your regular harness and leash may need an upgrade for the added safety risk of walking outdoors in locations far away from home.
A strong harness and leash are extra important while on an RV road trip. A well made harness provides a secure and comfortable way to control your cat while on a walk, and a strong retractable leash allows you to let them safely explore while ensuring they can be reeled back in close to you if an uncertain situation arises or they get spooked.
When choosing a harness for your cat, look for one that is made of durable materials and that is adjustable to fit your cat comfortably. A harness with a padded chest and belly strap will provide added comfort for your cat. Additionally, look for a harness that has a secure front D-ring attachment point, which will give you more control and prevent your cat from escaping.
This also applies to choosing a leash; look for one made of nylon or leather rather than a cheap rope or fabric construction. A good retractable leash with an easy-to-operate one-hand button brake and lock function can be a good option, as it allows your cat more freedom to explore while still giving you the control you need in any situation.
It's important to remember that not all cats will take kindly to wearing a harness and leash, so it's important to introduce the harness and leash gradually to your cat and make it a positive experience with treats and praise. It's also important to supervise your cat while they are on a walk and not leave them unattended. For more help with harness training your cat, check out our article, “Harness and Leash Training Your Cat."
Depending on how you feel about it and whether or not your ego will allow you to sport one (!), a pet strollercan be a great addition to an RV road trip with a cat. Pet strollers are a safe and easy way to move your cat around when you're camping or going to a new place. They’re also an excellent alternative to walking your cat on a harness and leash if your cat has not adapted to that and you don’t feel 100% safe doing it with them in a strange place.
One of the benefits of a pet stroller is that it allows your cat to safely explore new environments. If your cat is nervous or not used to being outside, a stroller can provide a secure and comfortable space for them to experience the great outdoors. It also allows your cat to get some fresh air and sunshine while you're camping without having to worry about him wandering off or breaking free from his leash.
Another benefit of a pet stroller is that it can also be used as a temporary indoor home for your cat while you're parked at a campground or other destination. You can have your cat sit alongside you at the campfire and enjoy all the socialization and fun in the campground, while being safe and secure.
When choosing a pet stroller, it's important to consider the size, security, and durability of the stroller. Look for a stroller that is large enough for your cat to move around in comfortably and that has a secure and sturdy door or gate to prevent your cat from escaping. Also, make sure that the stroller is made of durable materials that can withstand the wear and tear of travel. There are many great styles and colors of pet strollers available on the market, and depending on what types of locations you’ll be visiting on your travels, you might want to check out some all-terrain options that might be more compatible with longer walks and hikes.
If space in your RV allows and if your cat enjoys using one, bringing a cat exercise wheel along can be a great option for RV travel with an active cat. A cat wheel provides a fun and stimulating way for your cat to exercise and burn off pent-up energy while on the go. It also helps keep your cat healthy and active when they live in a small space, like an RV, and can keep them from getting bored or anxious.
When choosing a cat wheel for your RV, look for one that is made of durable materials, is large enough for your cat, and is also lightweight. Consider the space available in your RV, as some cat wheels can take up a significant amount of space. There are some wheels on the market that are made from lighter materials, making them slightly smaller and less noisy than others.
It’s also important to consider the noise level of the wheel, as some cat wheels can be quite loud, especially when operated at high speeds. A rubber mat, or piece of carpeting placed below the base of the wheel can often reduce the vibration and noise created by the wheel when in use.
If you have slide-outs in your RV, you can set the wheel up while you’re settled in your campsite and then take the wheel off the stand and store it on a bunk or alongside a bed in a bedroom to free up living space when you need it most during the day, such as during meal prep time or a movie watching session. We haven't taken a wheel on a road trip ourselves, but some of our clients do and say it's one of the best decisions they've made on a lengthy road trip from Canada to Mexico (in this photo: Jewelspride HeyZeus riding his large Ferris Cat Wheel inside the motorhome on a Mexican road trip recently. Photo courtesy of his owners, Yvette and Dan).
Even though a cat wheel might seem like an expensive purchase or a big hassle to bring on a road trip, keep in mind that your cat can use it at home when you're not away, and that the pros of having it with you outweigh the cons. The wheel in the photo above is actually one of the largest cat wheels on the market (the Ferris Cat Wheel) to give you an idea of the space required in an RV. Wheels can be taken off their tracks to be easily stored on an unused bed during the day in the RV and set up at night for your cat to use. It really all depends on the space you have available in your particular rig.
Food and water dishes, as well as food and water, are also important when traveling with a cat in an RV. Make sure to bring enough food and water to last the entire trip, and consider bring a water filter or purification tablets if you'll be camping in areas with questionable water quality.
When it comes to food and water dishes for cats while traveling in an RV, it’s important to choose dishes that are durable, easy to clean, and spill-proof. Stainless steel dishes are a great option as they are rust-resistant, dishwasher-safe, and easy to clean. Plastic dishes are also a good option, as they are lightweight, easy to clean, and come in different colors and sizes. Additionally, look for dishes with a non-skid bottom, which will help to keep the dish from sliding around and spilling while the RV is in motion.
Another feature to consider when choosing food and water dishes for your cat while traveling in an RV is lids. Lids can help to keep the food and water fresh and free from dirt and debris, and also prevent the dishes from spilling. Some dishes come with lids that can be snapped on and off, making them easy to use and clean. Some dishes have lids that can be screwed on and off, which can provide an extra layer of security against spills. If you're looking for a more portable option, consider collapsible or foldable dishes with lids, which can be easily stored in small spaces when not in use.
An alternative option to both of the above is to use disposable pet food dishes. Although this is a less eco-friendly option in some cases, it can be beneficial if you are in areas where you need to dry camp and go without running water for washing dishes. There are some convenient options that are also size-appropriate for cats and small enough to keep a supply tucked away in an RV cupboard just in case.
When traveling with your cat, it's important to choose a type of cat food that is easy to store and transport and also suitable for your cat's dietary needs and regular routine.
Dry food is often considered the best type of cat food for traveling because it is lightweight, easy to store, and has a long shelf life. It also doesn't need to be kept cold and is easy to divide up for the length of your trip.
Another (healthier) option is freeze-dried raw food, which is lightweight, easy to store, and has a long shelf life. It is also easy to rehydrate and can be used as a complete meal or as a supplement to your cat's diet.
If your cat eats canned or raw food, you’ll need to bring that along, but it can be heavy, take up more space, and also require refrigeration. If you feed canned or raw food, it's important to bring a portable cooler or insulated bag to keep the food fresh while on the road. There are some excellent options to choose from, both hard-sided and soft-sided, depending on your preferences and budget.
Regardless of the type of food you choose to bring along on the trip, it's important to make sure that it is what your cat is used to eating at home and that you bring enough of it to last the entire trip, or plan ahead to pass by locations that sell the food you use. Also, make sure to bring a few days' worth of extra food in case of delays or unexpected changes in plans.
A litter box is an obvious necessity to have on board with a traveling cat, but these can be large, messy, and not convenient to bring on a trip. Choose one that’s lightweight, collapsible, and easy to clean, making it more convenient for RV travel. You can also level up in this department by opting for a collapsible one with a lid to keep litter and odors enclosed. These litter boxes can be used both indoors and outdoors during the trip and can be a great solution for cats that are super messy with their litter. Whichever type you opt for, a portable litter box is a must-have when traveling with a cat in an RV.
When picking a portable litter box for your cat, you should think about how big it is and what kind of litter it can hold. Look for a box that is large enough for your cat to move around in comfortably. It's also a good idea to choose a box that is made of a durable, easy-to-clean material, or bring disposable litter liners to avoid having to wash or wipe down the litter box itself at all.
When using a portable litter box in an RV, it's important to make sure that it's placed in a well-ventilated area to help to keep the litter fresh and prevent odors from building up inside your RV.
When taking a road trip with your feline friend in an RV, it's essential to consider the type of cat litter you bring and have a convenient storage solution for it. Here are a few options to consider:
Clumping litter is often considered the best type of cat litter for RV travel because it is easy to clean and maintain. This type of litter forms clumps when wet, making it easy to scoop out and dispose of. It is also lightweight and easy to store, making it a great option for RV travel.
Another option is biodegradable litter, which is made from natural materials such as corn, wheat, or pine and can be composted or disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner at various stops along your travel route. These types of litters are also lightweight, easy to store, and better for the environment.
Pellet litter is another great option; it is fresh smelling, easy to store, and can be used with a sifting litter pan. This type of litter is made from compressed sawdust and forms small pellets, making it easy to scoop and dispose of.
Regardless of the type of litter you choose, it's important to bring enough of it to last the entire trip and a few days extra, in case of delays or unexpected changes in plans.
When it comes to carrying and storing the litter, consider using a litter container with a tight-fitting lid to keep the litter dry and prevent spills. If you're traveling in a motorhome or a camper, you can store the litter in a cabinet or a storage compartment. If you're traveling in a smaller RV or van, you can use a plastic container or a litter storage bag to keep the litter dry and prevent spills. We've found that when traveling with cats, it's better to use a large resealable storage bag instead of a hard plastic container. This is because as the litter gets used up, the bag gets smaller, taking up less space, and becoming easier to store.
Don’t forget to bring a small litter scoop and a small container of litter freshener to keep the litter smelling fresh and clean during your trip!
Last - but definitely not least - we can’t forget toys! Space-saving toys are another must-have when RVing with a cat. These types of toys are designed to be compact and easy to store, making them perfect for use in small spaces like an RV. A wand toy, puzzle toys, and a cat tunnel that can be folded up are all great ways to keep your cat busy and entertained while also preventing boredom and stress. A collapsible cat tree can provide your cat with a place to scratch, climb, and nap while also being easy to stow away when not in use. Here are a few examples of some of our favorite compact or space-saving toys that are great for RV travel with a cat:
Puzzle toys: These include interactive feeders, treat-dispensing balls, and other types of puzzles that can keep your cat mentally stimulated while on the road. Most of the time, these toys have interactive challenges, like hiding treats or toys in compartments that the cat has to figure out how to open. This is a fun way to keep your cat busy and entertained. Puzzle toys are also great for preventing boredom and anxiety.
Collapsible cat tunnels: Collapsible cat tunnels can provide a fun and interactive way for your cat to play and explore while traveling in an RV. These tunnels, often made of fabric or nylon, can be folded and easily stored when not in use, and provide an exciting new environment for your cat to play, hide and explore while on the road.
Feather wands: Feather teaser wands are a popular type of wand toy for cats, consisting of a long handle with a feather or other small toy attached to the end, that can mimic the movement of prey and encourage your cat to chase, pounce and play. They are great for entertaining and stimulating your cat while you're on the road, and you can also use them to let your cat's natural hunting instincts out.
Crinkle balls and springs: These toys often make noise or have textures that cats find intriguing, such as crinkling or springy movements, encouraging your cat to chase, play and engage with the toy. They are great for playing with other cats and for getting your cat's hunting instincts in shape.
Laser pointer: Laser pointer toys can be a great option for entertaining your cat while traveling in an RV. These small, handheld toys project a red dot that cats can chase, providing them with a fun and interactive way to exercise and play while on the road.
Small balls: These toys are lightweight and easy to carry, and can be used for a variety of games such as chasing, batting or fetching. They are a great way to keep your cat entertained and engaged during the trip.
Mouse toys: These toys shaped like small mice, can be used for a variety of games such as chasing, batting or fetching and are great for satisfying your cat's hunting instincts and keeping them entertained during the trip. Our cats especially like the ones with catnip inside!
These are just a few examples of compact or space-saving toys that are great for RV travel with a cat. With the right selection of toys, you can ensure that your cat stays entertained and engaged while on the road.
And there you have it — all the information you need to make your RV travels with your cat a success! From outdoor enclosures to space-saving toys — and even portable cat exercise wheels. We've covered everything you need to know to make your road trip with your feline friend as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Remember, the right preparation and equipment can make all the difference when it comes to your cat's safety and comfort. Most important of all, don't forget to have fun and make memories with your cat on the road. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. Happy travels!
Special thanks to Yvette and Dan for allowing me to use some of their photos as examples of setting up an RV to accommodate a cat and cat gear needed for traveling. You can follow their adventures with HeyZeus and Hosehey @Beach_Bound_Bengals
Photo credits: Yvette Simpson, who has HeyZeus and HoseHey from our cattery, Jewelspride Bengals, and so kindly allowed us to share her wonderful photos. Follow their cat RV adventures on Instagram @Beach_Bound_Bengals.
Are you ready to hit the road with your feline companion? Whether you're a seasoned RV traveler or a first-time cat owner, "RV Cat Travel Guide: Essential Tips and Products for Safe and Comfortable Road Trips with Your Feline Friend" is the ultimate guide to making your road trip with your cat a success. Written by experienced breeders of Bengal cats, this comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to keep your cat safe and comfortable while on the road. From outdoor enclosures to space-saving toys and portable cat exercise wheels, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to have a safe and enjoyable trip with your beloved cat. So, pack up your RV and hit the road with your feline companion, and make memories that will last a lifetime.