Fulltiming in Our Class B RV With Our Cat

 Fulltiming in Our Class B RV With Our Cat
 This is what weakend our resolve on the no-cat resolution - Fiona at 6 weeks.

This is what weakened our resolve on the no-cat rule – Fiona at 6 weeks.

We weren’t going to get a cat. Our retirement plans were set – fulltiming in a Roadtrek Class B RV – and our previous cats had just gone to kitty heaven after long and pampered lives. Our minds were made up – no cat.  And then we met Fiona, a beautiful Ragdoll kitten, and the plans changed a bit. At first it was, “well, we can give her to a relative when we leave if it doesn’t work out”, but that never came close to happening – Fiona was a natural traveler.

Fiona at five months - Glacier National Park
Fiona at five months – Glacier National Park. The harness and leash was part of her travel training.

Before we even got the Roadtrek in late 2006, we started including Fiona in car rides long and short, to acclimate her to the experience. By five months she practically needed a passport – we went coast to coast with her, cat dishes and litter box on the floor in back, and Fiona lounging wherever she saw fit – the dash, the back deck, everywhere. She LOVED motel rooms, bouncing from bed to bed.  This plan was starting to look like it was going to work.

She can get comfortable anywhere - this footwell snooze on a 45 degree angle floor is because of the AC vent's location under the dash.
She can get comfortable anywhere – this footwell snooze on a 45 degree angle floor is because of the AC vent’s location under the dash. Cool kitty.

Fiona was easy to handle moving from vehicle to motel and back – she’s been trained to be on a leash when outside, and she saw it as a good thing – it meant she was going for a walk. Walking cats is different than walking dogs – forget all that “heel” stuff. You go where they go, not vice versa. You’re also required to finish any fights they start – small dogs, large dogs, multiple dogs – that’s how she got her nickname, Fiona the Fearless. Growing up as an only kitty, she *ahem* didn’t play well with others. Every social interaction was pugilistic in nature.

Fiona took to the Roadtrek immediately – to her, it was as big as a house, with a nice bed, a suitably covered dash to serve as an observation deck, sheepskin seat covers to facilitate her naps, her own food and water bowls behind the front passenger seat, and a litter box under the bed.  As we finished closing out our sticks and bricks house, she practically moved into the Roadtrek – all that noise and boxes and clutter in the house was getting on her nerves.   She was as ready to hit the road as we were.

Fiona makes a statement about her treatment - our original litter box under the bed.
Fiona makes a statement about her treatment – her litter box under the bed, where she goes to pout.

The only real problem for us in the first few months was the litter box – the clay stuff tracked all over, and the pine stuff wasn’t much better. Besides, a Class B is very close quarters to share with a litter box, if you know what I mean. After three months’ experimentation with various litters, none of which solved the tracking problem, Fiona suddenly started to… go outside. Needless to say, we were overjoyed with this, and encouraged our gifted kitty.

This has continued for the subsequent three years now, and everyone’s happy with the arrangements.  Fiona is much too important and busy to dig her own holes, especially in hard ground – she has people who do that for her.  The only downside is she frequently insists on a walk at odd hours of the day and night, swearing it’s official business, only to frivol around in a strictly recreational manner once outside. I am resigned to her duplicitous nature.  We carry plastic bags just like dog owners and scrupulously observe the good neighbor pet owner rules wherever we travel.  She swears that the “no dogs on the beach” signs don’t apply to her, but I tell her that’s just an oversight on the sign-painter’s part, and nobody’s going to trust her around that much sand anyway.

Health issues are not a problem – Fiona is disgustingly healthy, and gets her annual checkup and vaccinations when we visit our relatives in Florida every holiday season. A current rabies vaccination and a letter from the vet saying she’s in good health travel with us for border crossings, etc. Some state parks require documentation of current rabies vaccination. She has an EU-compatible microchip in case she gets lost and to facilitate our planned travel in Europe.

Fiona defends her campsite against everything - this wild turkey is fixing to get a beatdown.
Fiona defends her campsite against everything – this wild turkey is fixing to get a beatdown.

Safety while camping is a little more work. It’s important to know the wildlife situation where you’re visiting.  Fiona likes to be outside the side door on her leash, which is fine if I’m right there eyeballing her, but coyotes are a real threat to pets, and when in doubt she comes inside, protests notwithstanding. We had a close call with a great horned owl in New Mexico, and night walks were similarly curtailed.  She’s truly fearless and oblivious to her surroundings, so it’s incumbent on me to watch out for her.

squirrel
Fiona entertains impure thoughts about the local critters. By the time she lumbers out of ambush, they are long gone – that’s best for all concerned.

Just as serious are the viral and bacterial diseases endemic in the west- anthrax, plague, valley fever, hantavirus, and probably some others that don’t have names yet.  The rodent population and their resident flea population are a giant reservoir of pathogens that pets can contract and bring home to their owners, and many of these diseases are serious, with mortality exceeding 50% in some.  As dedicated as Fiona is to decimating the ecosystem, all hunting is a non-contact sport. The leash helps, and the wildlife is much less overfed and under-exercised than she is, so close encounters are rare.  Sniffing around animal burrows is discouraged, and she’s always on prophylactic flea and tick control.

A not-so-whte kitty on a white pillowcase. I see a bath in someone's future.
A not-so-white kitty on a white pillowcase. I see a  bath in someone’s near future.  Those aren’t mints she’s leaving on my pillow.

On the subject of bathing, Fiona, despite the large sum she cost and the impressive papers that came with her, likes to get down and party like the domestic shorthairs, particularly out west where there’s plenty of dust to roll around in. She’ll wait until she has an audience of people I’m trying to impress with her beautiful features and regal bearing, and choose that moment to flop around in the dirt. Such are the burdens of parenthood. When it finally gets to be too much, we have a hygiene intervention, and the Roadtrek’s handheld shower nozzle comes in handy. After much sulking, reproachful looks in my direction, and a few hours drying time, she’s ready to go again. She hates baths, because it’s hard to convince the other animals you’re the apex predator in the ecosystem when you smell like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.

She's saying something about getting up and taking her for a walk, I think.
She’s saying something about getting up and taking her for a walk, I think.

So that’s the story – Fiona does her part to make our house a home as we enter our fourth year of fulltiming, and it gives me something to do in my idle hours to obey her commands and attend to her needs. She hates to see me sitting around enjoying myself, and can actually talk, when the need arises to provide me with instruction as to her proper care and feeding. I’m sorry I’m such a slow learner, but she’s patient with me, explaining things over and over until the dim bulb who is her so-called owner gets it.  I used to think of myself as a clever fellow, but sometimes it’s difficult to tell who is training whom around here. Here, let me show you my advanced degrees – I’ve got my diplomas around here somewhere…

 

 

campskunk

"campskunk" is a blissfully retired former public servant who has left the challenges of how to run the government to younger and less cynical hands, and wanders the continent in his Roadtrek Class B RV with his wife and cat. In addition to his work in the public sector, he has also at various times been a mechanic and delivery driver, skills which come in handy in his new role. Because his former job involved the forensic evaluation and sometimes the subsequent detention of some not-so-nice people, he uses the name campskunk instead of his legal name on the Internet. His was not the type of job where customer service feedback would be welcome.

69 Comments

  • Too cute, Campskunk! You have way more patience than me is all I can say!

  • How lucky you are….I can’t even get my dog to travel to the corner store in my RT with me. It’s just like having another teenager….. “it’s not cool to be seen with your parents”

  • Love Fiona…I’m sending this to my kids who trailer with their two children and a big lovable Golden Retriever but leave their two cats at home with a caregiver. Milo and Max were rescued from a Starbucks Dumpster and have enjoyed wonderful care by my kids but don’t travel well. Perhaps my Izzie (a cheeky little Havanese/Maltese cross and my rescued D’Asher (a 30 lb loyal friend rescued from the snows in the north) will get to meet Fiona and, of course, she would put them in their place.

  • Seeing her as a kitten I think anyone would have a hard time leaving her behind, that is if you love cats. I have many cat lovers as friends and I’m sure they will love to read her story.

  • Your tale of Fiona is so engaging!! Our Fiona appears fearless, but it is a ruse. Although she seems unflappable, she doesn’t eat much the first 3 or 4 days after we start out, so I know she is stressed. Luckily we are just part time RVers, so she has plenty of time to recuperate when we get home. The RV is new in our lives, so I am hoping she will get used to it.

  • Wonderful writing, as I have grown accustomed to, Campskunk. I think you just might have a children’s series in you… with Fiona’s guidance, of course! Since you are a full-timer, you can make book appearances any where! I hope you think about this. Thanks for the fun read.

  • I love this entry! Pets sure make our lives more interesting, don’t they? I am happy you and the Mrs. have Fiona in your lives and that she has you! Love the pictures!

  • I just Fiona! I agree with Laura but I don’t think a book needs to be for children alone…adults would love them too! Our animals become our children and are so entertaining! Would love more stories about Fiona!

  • Fiona is such an accommodating kitty. Most every cat I had, went bezirk in a moving car. Once I tried to bathe my cat, he ran away for 2 days. What was I doing wrong?

    • Kristi: the trick is to start early on all these things – traveling in a vehicle, walking on a leash, and baths. Fiona was exposed to all these things early on and often, that’s why she’s used to them. Of course, she still throws a fit at the vet and when i trim her claws, so there are some things that cats just don’t like. And they’ll tell you when they don’t like something 😉

  • I know my dog would love the RVing life–she’s a real outdoors hound. As for the cat–we’re having long conversations about the possibility. 🙂

  • Fiona, The Fulltiming Feline….:)

  • leash or not, I would never let my cat out there. Hubby either.

  • Hawk bait

  • Thanks for this, Mike and Campskunk! We just got a cat ourselves – common domestic shorthair, Priscilla, and wondered how we were going to make out with her in our future Roadtrek. We’re glad to read that the leash option ‘works’!

  • Wow, I thought this was the edge of the cliff at first but it’s at the waters edge. 🙂 Cute kitty.

  • We just finished our first three-week trip in our 2008 Road Trek Adventurous RS down the coastline of Washington, Oregon and Northern California with our cat Mitzi. She is an indoor cat only, hates a leash but she loved the RV! Success!

  • What an ‘engaging’ story for us all. A kitty like Fiona would be wonderful and your ‘how to’ ideas…are magnificent. 🙂

  • I LOVE that photo – beautiful place and beautiful cat!

  • Very good story. Like the picture. Wondering where it was taken.

  • OMG that cat is my Haggard kitty. I raised him in my semi truck till he said it was time to retire him to my parents motor home and then he travled with them for more years. He and they liked it out in Laughlin, Nv. If i played country music he hung around but if i played anything else he left. And his greatist fun was he would chase dogs and as they ran from him he would jump on there backs and ride as far as he could with the dog screaming. Lol anyone who saw this thougjt he was rabbid and crazy. Lol

  • My two cats are so shy they don’t go out – I bought them a pop up tent but no way so far. They are almost 14 – maybe when they were younger.

  • Fiona rules! 😉

  • Ohhh…this is at the edge of a pond or lake! I thought it was a cliff Lol
    Beautiful pic & what fun to take a fury baby with u!!

  • Ohhh…this is at the edge of a pond or lake! I thought it was a cliff Lol
    Beautiful pic & what fun to take a fury baby with u!!

  • Great article..thanks!

  • Great article..thanks!

  • Fish bait!

  • Beautiful cat!

  • kitties can change our no cat rule, often . the harness is the only way to go with a kitty cat . rover loved his too unless he had other ideas about chasing the wildlife .

  • Aww, pretty Fiona! Shannon Kindred – Betty’s role model!

  • Enjoyed your story. Pictures are beautiful.

  • Our cat goes on the road with on a leash also she loves it

  • Our cat used to love traveling in our Roadtrek. When we would stop for the night, she would want out on her leash and harness. We found out what a good climber she was when people walked by our rig, pointing to the roof. When we went out to investigate, there was Alley, laying up on the roof, enjoying the view!

  • What’s going on over to the left? Magic floating tree stump?

  • Elvis prefers not to go camping these days, but we sure had great fun including him in our travels.

  • Use to bring ours canoeing

  • I love the blue chair/hammock you’re in in the last picture. Do you have a link to it online for purchase? (Love your posts)

  • ;#} Awesome pic, I don’t think my cat would do that 🙂

  • Loke so good

  • Thanks for sharing your time and more important your advice with Fiona. Like Fiona, our cats have their own personalities and means by which they communicate. They are part of our Family just as Fiona is part of yours.
    Wish the best for you, your wife and Fiona. Safe Travels!

  • Absolutely delightful story about Fiona. What a great writer you are Campskunk…..I totally agree with the other comment…….you have to write a book or series of books about her and your travels……please……

  • How did your cat adapt to travel?? We are thinking of doing the same.

  • Beautiful cat.

  • I love your beautiful cat.

  • Our kitty detests leashes…backpack or stroller only for her! Even with that leash…that drop off concerns me, not to mention that stump is like a platter to a bird of prey!! Pls be careful with your cats.

  • Looked like an edge of a cliff until I saw the water!

  • Nice picture. I first thought it was a on a cliff, too!

  • We knew a couple with a cat that traveled fulltime that used the toilet to go potty & would meow till Mom flushed.

  • My sis, Kelli Darland, is thinking of traveling with her three cats in her van. Heaven help her!

  • We traveled with a cat in our small A class. Sandbox rode in the shower. She was happy being inside, looking out the big windows.

  • Rachel Moore do you want to tour the nation with toasty?

  • A darling article!

  • No, Toasty goes with Lou.

  • We half-time it with three kitties 🙂 Love the way yours gets out and about with her harness and leash, tho.

  • Great picture!

  • Awesome

  • Jenna

  • This pretty cat is awaiting for a fishirman for lunch.

  • Margot Baldwin.

  • What a view!!!!!!

  • going fishing?

    • Fiona got MUCH more interested in the water after she saw a fisherman pull some big fish out of it a week or so before.

  • Looks like my ol cat Baby

  • Great story

  • wE STARTED OUR VACATION IN NFLD WITH OUR HOUSE CAT PRINCESS ,A FEMALE OF 5YRS. ONE WK. LATER HEAT BEING VERRY HIGH WE OPENED THE WINDOWS IN OUR CLASS B. SO THE CAT WOULD NOT SUFFER WITH HEAT AND SHE SLIPPED OUT OF THE WINDO ,AND THE REST IS A NIGHT MARE

  • Your cat is awesome!! My girlfriend and I are also fulltiming with our cat. We love having our little buddy with us to keep us some company. 🙂

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