By Barry Zander
We love our cat. He loves me, but only in the early mornings when I let him in the house to munch on rock-hard cat food. He loves Monique, but mainly when she does her garden walk checking for gopher mounds.
Other than that, he pretty much ignores us. His breed: Maine Coon. His name: “Fred.” His alternate name: “Misery,” because while he rarely pays any attention to us, “Misery” loves company, but on his terms. He greets visitors (very few these days) with a smile and interest. Fred/Misery is an outdoor cat, who has survived for three years despite mountain lions and coyotes that roam in and around our high-in-the-mountains property. He only sleeps indoors in the winter when the thermostat dips to freezing, but he meows vehemently protesting our insistence that he stay inside during bad weather.
Fred would never put up with RV traveling; Matter of fact, he hasn’t ridden in a car since kittenhood. If we were to force him into the RV, giving him freedom to “do his business,” that would be his invitation to venture out and about, where he would disappear into the surroundings.
A dilemma: What to do when the coast is clear enough to start heading out on RV excursions again? We have a three- to five-month trip planned to the Great Lakes next spring. Can we trust the young girl across the street to feed him daily? We’re certain that if we could find someone to foster him for days, weeks or months, he would find his way back. Then what?
We don’t want to lose him. He probably doesn’t want to lose us. Suggestions from your experience will be greatly appreciated.
If you truly want to keep this cat, then bring him inside and don’t let him out ever again! Outdoor cats can be trained to stay indoors and then they are no trouble when you’re traveling. We have 3 cats who always go with us in our Class A…trailers and 5th wheels will take more planning. Maine coons are very smart cats and he can be trained to walk with a leash and get his outdoor time in a safe manner. If you decide he’s not worth the trouble, then please, please seek a responsible new home for him.
I don’t understand the people letting their pets ride in the tt or 5er. Ours can get pretty hot in summer travels not to mention it’s got to be very rough and bumpy. Our cat rides in the truck and if more than a four hour drive, we put the litter box in the back seat with him. He just sleeps in his bed behind my seat.
We travel with a dog and a Maine Coon who thinks he is a dog. He was an indoor cat from kitten hood but when we started traveling we wanted him to be able to explore. A harness and leash was our only option. The harness is made by Puppia (which he is a bit indignant about). Get the one with the adjustable neck. We use a cat leash which is sort of bungee-like (Amazon) and when possible add a long 25 foot lead. You can see pics of him with his harness scattered throughout our travel blog. http://www.toystrailsandtails.com Good luck and safe travels!
Just as an FYI, “fostering” means you have turned your feline friend over to a rescue, relinquishing your rights to him forever. If you mean “free catsitting” then I hope you have a friend or relative who would do that for so many months. I was on the board of directors of a dog rescue for many years, and people looking for free dogsitting would ask if we could foster for a while. Nope. Best of luck finding a solution for puss; I just wanted to clear up some terminology for you.
I took two older long haired sibling cats with me when I started out. I bought a collapsible pen that rode in the back of the SUV with their litter box and bed in it. Popeye passed away after our first trip. But Olyve Oyle made it all the way to FL from NV and half way back. I lost her on the return trip. She had gotten to the point that she refused to ride in the suv with the dogs and when I would pack up to leave she would disappear. Usually under the covers or behind the bed pillows. She would ride in the TT the whole day. When I’d park and go inside around 3pm she would crawl out, stretching and go to the litter box in the shower then stand in the doorway while I finished setting up. I’d put the pen outside for her to get some fresh air but she would much rather be inside looking out the door or window. I miss having a traveling cat.
I used to house/pet sit. One job had me going over once a day to put out food and clean water for 31 days. It was a location that I went by frequently so it was no trouble plus I liked sitting on the front porch. I never knew if the cat ever got the food because the raccoons shared the food and dirtied the water. I never saw the cat although their son would come to town infrequently and the cat always came out to him. They were pleased with the results when they got home.
If you want to start traveling with your cat, now is the time to start harness training him. He should be ready to attach a leash by the end of the year.
That way you won’t have to worry about him getting lost. Plus all RV parks require you to have your pet (cats as well as dogs) on a leash when they are out of your rig.
We’ve leash trained, but take it slow using lots of treats.
Thirty years ago we had a tiger cat that came & went as he pleased. We went on a 2 week vacation & had a neighbor girl put feed & water out for him & our outdoor Siberian Husky. When we returned, she said she never saw the cat after the first day. An hour later he dragged himself into the yard with both back legs broken. A good neighbor friend was a vet & he said he was hit by a car & both hip sockets were broken. He removed the sockets & said cartilage would fill in the spots, but he would limp the rest of his life. He fully recovered with no limp & lived another 8 years.
Food and fear are kitty motivators. Invest time in getting him used to your RV. Bring him and favorite treats (tuna works well) into the RV every other day for a couple weeks. Before you know it, he’ll be running toward the RV wanting to go in. If he does “escape” during your travels, chances are he’ll just hunker down beneath the RV to scan unfamiliar surroundings for danger. Also think about associating a sound (a clicker or shaking a bag of treats) with his favorite food item. He is more likely to respond to the sound than his name.
I take my cat camping all the time. She rides in the 5th wheel – in the bedroom closet with water and litter box nearby. She goes to sleep and never makes a sound. At the campsite she will go out and explore, but in 3 years she’s never run away. She loves camping and new places to explore. Now, if Fred simply cannot be in a car, truck or RV, then I guess travelling is out. Good luck. Camping with a cat is pretty fun and always a good conversation starter!
Fred is best left at home where he knows his environment. I have the same issue with my cat Beethoven. Leave the garage door open a crack at the bottom or get a cat door installed so he has access to food, water and safety from weather and predators. Have your neighbor girl check on him every few days to refill food and water (buy a dispensing feeder and waterer) and to make sure he wasn’t injured. You could also keep him in the house during your travels. My cat sitter comes to clean the litter box every couple of days.
We have a very reliable cat sitter for those few times we wish to travel without the four of them. I would think an outdoor cat is much more independent in attitude than our indoor ones. Pretty tough problem.