By Rachel Puryear
In a recent post, I discussed tips for bringing your dogs with you to visit the great outdoors.
People generally regard bringing dogs into the great outdoors as an excellent idea – yet at the same time, many would laugh or scoff at the idea of doing the same thing with cats.
However, while bringing your cats with you on RV and camping trips does present somewhat different challenges than bringing dogs, it can be done with many cats, provided proper precautions are exercised. People around the world have great, fun times traveling around on RV adventures with their furry feline companions.
Accordingly, here are some tips for bringing your kitties along on outdoor adventures.
There’s a bit more to bringing cats along than there is for dogs, so there will be multiple posts on this subject. This post will address preparing your kitties before you go on your trip.
Before You Go
Before you even start your RV/camper engine, it’s a great idea to spend some time inside your vehicle with your kitties while it’s parked and stationary. This allows your kitties to acclimate to the space, and feel more comfortable in there. Bring their food, water, and litter box and place them inside. Also bring some of their toys, and maybe a favorite bed or cushion, so the space feels more like home to them. Be sure to bring some treats, and maybe some catnip, to give them even more positive associations with being in there.
Before bringing them inside, be sure to do a check around and make sure there aren’t any holes or escape routes, and that the place is cat-proofed. Also, close any windows that don’t have a secure screen in place.
Making the Carrier Their Friend
At home, I like to leave their carriers out all the time, and keep soft blankets and cushions inside for them to lay on. This way, their carriers are a cozy place for them to nap and relax, rather than something I only drag out when they’re going to the vet. This makes life much easier when I need to get them in a carrier to go on a trip.
If your kitties dread the sight of their carrier, start by leaving it out for them in an out-of-the-way corner of the house that they like to hang out in, leave the door open, and put some comfortable bedding and some of their toys inside – and maybe even some treats or a little catnip. They will likely get used to it with a little time.
Start Small, and Local
Going on trips doesn’t tend to come as naturally to cats as it does to dogs, but that doesn’t mean that cats cannot also learn. They will likely need to start slower than dogs, though.
To start getting your cat(s) used to going on trips, you probably don’t want to start with going thousands of miles on a journey of months as your first outing with them. Instead, try bringing them on a short day trip first, to somewhere local, and for no more than just a few hours to start with.
Note how they respond and behave, and see if they seem to gradually get more comfortable about what’s going on while you’re out with them. Over time, gradually increase the length and the distance of the trips, as they grow more accustomed to this. Also, make sure that they always have their own space to retreat to (like a cozy carrier), which is all theirs, and in which they feel safe and comfortable. Make sure they also have plenty of water at all times, food if needed, and a litter box. And pace it so that they feel comfortable with a certain level of time and distance of a first trip, before moving on to the next level.
Keep Them Safe in the Vehicle
Be sure to have a proper restraint system for your cats in the car or RV ride. Cats should be kept inside a proper carrier at all times while riding, and the carrier should be fastened in. Having tried lots of cat carriers, I find this one in particular to be the best one I’ve ever used – it’s soft and comfortable for your little guys, but sturdy (and chew-resistant). The zippers stay put, to keep even wiggly kitties well secured. It has a side strap you can use to easily put the seatbelt through to properly secure them while you’re driving. Plus, while you’re out and about, it’s easy to sling it over your shoulder, and carry your kitties with you – being soft, it conforms to your body to it’s easier to carry than a hard one. It’s reasonably priced for the quality, and (with the large-size model) there’s plenty of room for even your largest kitties. This carrier is clearly designed by people who have pets, and that’s always a good thing.
Also, remember that on a warm day, the inside of a parked car with the windows rolled up can quickly get more than 20 degrees warmer inside than outside. Parking in the shade helps, but even this is not automatically safe on hot days. Never leave a living creature alone in a parked car on a warm day, without someone attending who can look after them.
Know Your Cats
Some cats will become travelers, and love outdoor adventures, and will have some of their most fun times ever with you. Others may simply not become travelers. Either way, they are still wonderful kitties. But you never know whether or not they will be travelers unless you try. You can assess by going on the small, local trips to start, and seeing how they take to it. You know your own kitties best. And if they don’t take to it, you can always board them or have a friend look after them while you’re away.
Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to giving cats a crack at the RV life, too.
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