Monday, November 28, 2022


Couple disagree on RVing full-time with cat

Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
We have been considering selling our home, buying a motorhome and traveling full-time. There are several things about that lifestyle that my wife and I do not agree on.

The biggest obstacle is our 14-year-old cat. She wants to take the cat and I think that’s a bad idea. I have taken that cat in the car to the vet on occasion and he freaks out and howls during the whole trip. I can just picture us traveling throughout North America with a howling cat screeching in my ear.

Can you give us some direction to common ground on this issue. Thanks in advance. —Categorically Against Traveling with Felix

Dear Cat:
If Felix is your biggest obstacle, I think you’re well on your way to forever together along North America’s Blue Highways. A cat is an easy pet to travel with. Steinbeck preferred a standard Poodle and wrote a best-selling book “Travels with Charley in Search of America“) about his dog peeing on every bush in America. I can’t picture John rambling around in the morning with a rubber glove picking up Charlie scat, but who knows. Maybe his editor just cut those passages. Least Heat-Moon did the same thing without a pet but missed all the love and adoration that beams from furry companions even when we don’t deserve it.
I’m not saying a traveling pet does not come without some maintenance. We travel with two cats. There is the litter to deal with. They like to steal themselves into tight places and hide. Our checklist includes checking for cats above the slides before deploying them. That could be a real catastrophe.

We have had them bail out in an area cordoned off as a grizzly bluff charge area in Alaska and jump out in New Mexico and run across the border to Mexico. Both times my wife sent me to find them. They have escaped a couple times in Glacier and Rocky Mountain NP among hundreds of other rigs and they eventually figured out which one was theirs and returned home in the middle of the night crying at the roof vent.

But those events are few and far between. We take precautions so our cats do not get out, both for their protection and local wildlife. We have suction cup bird feeders that keep the cats continually entertained. They have seen more birds around North America than most Life List tracking birders. But after 30+ years we do have some stories to tell.
The downside is we have friends allergic to cats and it limits their visitations to our rig.
A trip to the vet is a bit different than traveling in a home on wheels. Felix will eventually become adapted to his new home and find his comfort zone. We have one that hides under the couch as soon as she notices me going for the driver’s seat. The other one sits on the dashboard and helps me navigate.
I can’t imagine you actually expect your wife to give up a cat you’ve had for 14 years. The only difference between my child and my cat is that the cat listens to me and doesn’t talk back. Take Felix the “wonderful, wonderful cat” with you, and move on to solve the next issue you have. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his new e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.


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Geri Peterson
4 years ago

We full time with 3 inside cats; a 19 year old female & 14 year old male littermates. Got them used to being in our class A before we sold the house.
As soon as we pull our slides in, the boys head for our bed, hide under blankets & stay there till we stop. Our girl just walks around, eats, drinks then looks for a sunny spot to nap. We only travel 2 – 4 hours in a day. Been full time for 4 months. We love having them with us.

Elaine Schuster
4 years ago

We planned a two week trip in our Vixen, and our elderly cat was not well. In the car, he would hit the lowest point and lie there moaning the entire time. For several days before our trip, I hosted the cat in the Vixen. He got his food, water, treats and litter while we sat and read and petted him. He appeared to be very comfortable and even napped on the couch. After two or three days, we started up the Vixen, letting it run for several minutes. Kitty was comfortable, so we drove around the block. Kitty was fine. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy the expedition and treated the Vixen like his own personal castle. It was a joy for us, because he didn’t last too long after that.

4 years ago

Great comments everybody. I got some good chuckles reading them…
We have always traveled with our catz. My thoughts about introducing a 14 year old to the RV summarize some others above. 1. fill the RV with things that smell like home. 2. Stay in the RV for a few days without moving. 3. use Zylkene the first few days of travel. 4. don’t freak out when the cat hides and doesn’t come out, he will when it’s dark & he’s hungry. 5. Ginger cats are the most loving and are super people oriented… he will love going with you.
We use small dog harnesses for our 14 year old and 6 mo. old kitten – get him used to that now.
When you look for an RV: if you are buying used find a rig or two that you like and then hire an independent Certified RV Tech to go over the rigs with a fine toothed comb & if you choose a Motorhome, have a good mechanic evaluate the engine and chassis. You will not regret either investment. We turned down 3 rigs after paying for those services and when we found the right rig? Well, we’re assured of a really great house on wheels that will go with us for a long, long time! Happy Trails!

Marvin Thomasson
4 years ago

When I retired and drove “home” to Western North Carolina from Anchorage , Alaska, I brought my cat along. In Wyoming he spent a couple of days roaming with local ranch cats before coming home, in Twin Harbours, MI I found him in the firewood shed. Somehow we made it 7,000 miles together. We have a dog now, who hates the travel, but won’t run away. Loves his crate when we go. He’s working at peeing on every bush in America like Charlie. Pets make good traveling companions and are worth whatever small inconvenience you might experience.

Patti L.
4 years ago

We travel with 2 cats ( 8 and 14), and a bulldog pup. They all travel wonderfully and I can’t even imagine not having them along. The older cat is a meower, but not if he travels in the rv. The cats just go to sleep in the bedroom and our little bully travels in the truck with us, snoring his way down the road. We set up a screened enclosure for the cats to enjoy the great outdoors while we camp and they quickly make the trip from the rv door to the “cathouse” and back without detours since the rv is their safe place. Never problems with escapes.

4 years ago

We travel with three, very different reactions to RV travel. My senior cat gets on the flat portion of the dash and sleeps in the sun, moving only when one side is toasted warm. Middle cat lays in co-pilot seat occupants’ lap and monitors everything. Youngest cat is all over the RV, loves to stare out the rear window.
We do have a pill for the middle cat. We also have some great folding cages that take up less room when not being used.

Suka's Mom
4 years ago

Here’s another “us, too.” We allowed our two cats (ages 14 and 17) to explore the motorhome a few times before we actually took them anywhere. The first time the engine started and the rig began to move, they were petrified. One hid under the sofa, one hid under the bed. We drove to a campground and stayed the weekend, and they quickly adapted to life inside the motorhome. They still didn’t like driving, but by the third trip they were more annoyed than afraid. Three years later, they couldn’t care less when we travel. As soon as we start packing up, they go to their sleeping spots and chill out.
I will point out that there is a difference between being in a large RV and being in a small cage with bars. Felix will soon figure out the difference.

4 years ago

We travel with 9 cats. We have a cat tree next to the couch. When the engine cranks, 4 get on the cat tree, 2 go to the couch, 2 get ON the dashboard ready to look out the window, and 1 goes under the couch. We acclimated them by living, sitting still, in the motorhome for 3 weeks before we traveled anywhere. They adapted. They have never tried to escape. When the door is opened, they sit on the dashboard and look out the door. Before moving, we always make a head count of cats to know where they all are. We’ve traveled with them for 3 years with no CATastrophes.

Susan B
4 years ago

A couple of things: First, a 14 year-old cat will have some challenges adapting to any new environment. When you move her in, make sure there are linens on the bed and throws and toys and her bed that all smell like home. As many things as you can transfer that smell “right,” do. Cats are very smell-oriented. Make sure she has a good scratching post.

Secondly, there’s a new product on the market called Zylkene. It’s made from casein, part of milk, and it’s very calming for many animals. We had to transport our daughter’s cat recently, and he HATES the car. He yowls, vomits, even poops … We had her give him Zylkene for a couple of days ahead, and he made the trip to our house with no yowling, no vomiting, no nuthin’. We also used it on our elderly, cranky queen when we intorduced new kittens and it went very well. Give it a shot!

Rich T
4 years ago

I full time with brother and sister cats. My 2 cats yowl in the car all the way to the vet also, and the first trip we took in the motorhome was no different. Unfortunately that trip was about 200 miles… But by the 2nd or 3rd trip they figured out that the world was not coming to an end. It helped that by then I had figured out *everything* that needs to be stashed safely before getting underway. Now they move around freely, although they tend to spend most time lying down – one under the pilot chair, one on the kitty window hammock. Sometimes on the dashboard, or the carpet runner in the middle of the living room (no slides in this rig). Sometimes on long trips my sister cat will climb onto my shoulders, down my arms and into my lap. It often seems as if they enjoy being underway. I don’t think cats get enough credit for adaptability. Mine have adapted to many, many changes very well.

4 years ago

Our cat often meows the first twenty minutes or so, but eventually gives up and goes to sleep. I would not consider it to be a deterrent.

Charlotte B
4 years ago

We put cat beds under the table, as soon as we start the RV, they go to them. When we first started 10 years ago, they would cry. I draped a light blanket over the table (think covering a bird cage at night) and they quieted down. We continued to do this until one day the blanket fell off and they did not care.

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