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8 {PURRfect} Tips for Including Cats in the RV Lifestyle

| Updated May 30, 2023

Do you want your cats in the RV Lifestyle? For pet owners, the RV lifestyle might mean the inclusion of your feline friend in your RV travel.

Roaming the country with a dog doesn’t require a lot of adjustment, but RV traveling with cats is a little more complicated. Cats need special handling and these 8 tips will help them be more comfortable in a mobile environment.

And a BIG thanks to all the members of our RV Lifestyle community who sent us pictures of their traveling cats! You'll see those all the way through this post.

Expert Tips For Cats in the RV Lifestyle

We have 8 official tips for cats in the RV Lifestyle but have also included a few from our community, too. If YOU have some ideas, please add them to the comments.

Tip #1: RV Travel and Cats

It is a good idea to start out small with your feline furbaby. Cats can be sensitive to vibrations and engine sounds, so just keeping them in the vehicle while it idles in your driveway is a good place to start getting her acclimated.

Some cats take RV travel in stride, but others will react with a range of panic attacks that include mewling, frantic attempts to escape, and car sickness.

Soothe your cat with petting, soft reassurance, and offers of its favorite cat treats. It may take anywhere from a few minutes to weeks for her to accept her new surroundings, so be patient.

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Twink travels. In any other position or in a crate of any kind, she vomits & howls constantly ? She will lay there for hours. We travel in a 2016 Jayco Red Hawk 31XL. Linda and Mitch

Tip #2: A Place For Kitty

The RV lifestyle is all about living comfortably in a small space, and cats can relate to that.

Creating a mini-cave inside your travel trailer will put your cat more at ease. Cats are predators, and they like to be able to hide in the shadows while watching what goes on around them.

A moderately roomy pet carrier will do the trick, or even propping open the door of a cabinet with a favorite blanket inside. A cat’s hideaway doesn’t have to be at floor-level either, because cats are adept at jumping, and many prefer an elevated view to always looking up at the world.

Tip #3: Harness Vs. Collar

Most RV parks and campgrounds permit pets, but pet owners are required to keep their animals restrained at all times. A collar loose enough to be comfortable is also easy to slip.

The better idea is to use an elasticized cat harness with push clips. Buckles are fine for dogs, but cats live a more 3-dimensional life and can easily hang themselves with traditional buckles. Harnesses won’t tame a cat’s curiosity, so be vigilant whenever yours is out and about.

Tip #4: Going For Walks

Like traveling in a vehicle, there is not a specific reaction to expect when the leash is put on. Some will never bat an eye, others will never accept life in bondage.

When choosing a leash, remember that cats aren’t strong and forceful, so their leash needs to be light and long enough for exploration.

On walks, let your cat lead the way, but be prepared for frequent long pauses, rushing up trees, and all of the behavior you love in a cat. Never allow your cat to run loose because any sudden noise can cause it to panic and disappear into the night.

Tip #5: Taking Care of Business

Litter boxes can be problematic.

There aren’t a lot of places to keep one in an RV, they become odiferous quickly, and the cat scratching around in might scatter litter. Attentive cat owners can train their cat to go outside by watching for when it needs to go.

Accidents may still happen, so stay sharp and be prepared to stop the vehicle as soon as your cat is ready to go. Keep the litter box on hand until you are positive the training has taken root.

Some cats will not accept the idea of going in the dirt. When that happens, your only option is to find a place for the litter box.

Inside a cabinet, under a piece of furniture or some other location away from heavy traffic areas is best. You will need to change the litter frequently, but it is a workable solution. Or just train your cat to use the toilet.

So we have to talk about Colby.

According to his owner Chrissy, “He loves using the toilet and watching it flush. He's the right cat personality for the RV life, loves it way more than being at “home”. Comes back when he gets out, never strays far, willingly walks on a leash. He makes RVing so much better!”

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Tip #6: Catting Around

Cats of all ages still need opportunities to play and sharpen their claws. Inside the travel trailer, they have limited options, but it is in your best interest to install a scratching post, and your cat will appreciate having a few favorite toys.

If you don’t give your furbaby things to do with its time, she will take out its frustrations on the furniture.

Tip #7: Health and Beauty for Cats in the RV Lifestyle

Taking your cat on the road includes being prepared for expert care and treatment. Pack her medications and papers.

Get her microchipped, and keep a list of visits to the vet, medications she’s been given, and when she was last treated for parasite prevention.

Make sure you have her beauty aids on hand as well. A cat that doesn’t get brushed regularly will quickly cover the fabric inside your RV with hair.

Make brushing her a routine practice, and have her nails professionally trimmed every 3 months or so. It is also a good idea to keep cats isolated against strays at campgrounds and RV parks to help reduce the chances of being exposed to cat-specific diseases and infections.

Are you more of a dog person? We have a lot to say about that, too!

Tip #8: Playing It Safe

When you are on the road, your cat is better protected if it is safely locked inside a pet carrier. It may not appeal to you or your pet, but a pet carrier with a soft blanket keeps your cat safe in case of accidents or sudden stops.

Cats are both nocturnal by nature and sleep up to 18 hours per day, so a carrier large enough to move around a little with a favorite blanket will make them more comfortable during road trips.

To prevent it from becoming airborne, the pet carrier should always be safely strapped in place before the vehicle begins to roll.

Thanks to all the Cats in the RV Lifestyle

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Shelley in a Monaco Windsor Diesel Pusher owned by Kimberly

Cats are naturally curious and long-distance road trips can be a great adventure. As a pet parent, it is important that you take the necessary steps to keep your furbaby safe.

Take your kitty along, but make it a part of the journey, allowing it to explore national parks, sniff the bushes, and generally be another member of your mobile family. A cat can be an entertaining part of every journey as long you keep it safe and comfortable in your RV lifestyle.

And a big thanks to all the RV Lifestyle community members who contributed to this post! We have enjoyed seeing your pictures so much! See you on the road!

Inspired to plan an RV trip (maybe with your cat)? Here's the tool we use:

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You can learn more about this tool at

Planning an RV Trip has never been easier than with RV TripWizard. It is a comprehensive tool that Jennifer and I use whenever we are planning a trip. It works seamlessly with all our devices and gives us access to the info we need on where to stop, what camping is nearby and what we should do in an area.

Best of all, you can try it for free to see how it will fit into your trip planning process.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-06-07

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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