RVing With Your Cat
James and Stef Adinaro of The Fit RV are two of our favorite RVers to follow and have been for quite some time (check out our past interviews with the duo here and here). We’re constantly inspired by their RVing adventures – from their unique RV lifestyle that centers around health and wellness to their journey to find a new RV for their travels, we’re hooked. Something you might know is that the couple travels with their loyal furry companion, Mel, and know a great deal about making the transition from home to life on the road smooth for their beloved cat. As today is National Cat Day, we figured, what better way to celebrate than to bring you the ultimate interview featuring everything you need to know about traveling with your cat? Learn about how Mel adjusted to a harness, lives in an RV and so much more in the details below. We promise this interview will make you want to adopt a cat and bring him or her into your RV immediately.
La Mesa RV:RVing with your Cat Tell us about your beloved road companion Mel! How long has he been RVing with you? Where did you get him? What’s his age? Any fun facts we should know about him?
The Fit RV: Mel is our part-Siamese (we think) adventure cat. He’s four and a half years old, and he’s been RVing since he was about one. We didn’t really “get” Mel – he “got” us! He simply walked down out of a tree in our yard at about 6 months old and never left. Coincidentally, this is the same tree that our previous cat, Crabby, walked down out of fifteen years before that. All we can conclude from this is that the tree just grows kittens.
LMRV: Most cats have an adamant aversion to harnesses. How did you get your cat accustomed to a moving home, and how do you manage adventures away from the RV without the fear of your cat wandering off?
TFRV: Before we ever set out with Mel on an RV trip, we let him get familiar with the RV while it was stationary. Whenever we would be out tinkering in or near the RV, Mel would come out to investigate, help, and mostly nap. We encouraged this so that when it started to move, the RV was already a safe space for Mel, and he didn’t associate the RV itself with motion. Mel isn’t saying, but we think this process for acclimating him to the RV really helped out.
As far as keeping him safe while we travel; since his “home” moves, we don’t let him roam around outside unattended. He’s never usually in an area long enough to learn his way around. So when we’re out of the RV, Mel holds down the fort. When we do take him out of the RV, we keep him on a harness. We started harness training him pretty young, and now he’s just naturally OK with it. He knows it means he’s going outside, so he actually kind of likes it.
LMRV: How does RV life change the game of potty-training your cat? Do you travel with a litter box? Are there any tips you’d like to offer on getting your cat more comfortable with the RV lifestyle?
TFRV: We’ve been fortunate with Mel and his bathroom habits. He’s very well litterbox trained, and as long as he knows where it is and can get to it – we don’t have any issues. We do travel with a top-loading litter box for the RV. We find it keeps the litter contained better. It’s different from his box at home, but he doesn’t seem to mind.
One thing we have noticed is that Mel – unless it’s an emergency – doesn’t like to use his litterbox while the RV is rolling. So it’s a good idea to stop every couple of hours so he gets the chance to use his box if he needs to. Bathroom breaks an important RVing with your cat tip.
LMRV: What are some of Mel’s favorite landscapes?
TFRV: Generally speaking, loud cars or wheeled vehicles rolling by aren’t Mel’s cup of tea. So the places Mel likes best are the more remote and secluded locations. It helps if they have lots of birds or mice nearby. That’s probably more interesting to him than any kind of scenery.
He used to try to go through underbrush when we took him out. Nowadays, he realizes he’s on a harness, and that we won’t let him go under things where we can’t follow, so he typically goes around obstacles for our benefit. It’s been interesting to watch him adapt like that and still have fun.
LMRV: We see so many RVers traveling with dogs, but are always fascinated by campers who roam the open road with a cat in tow. What were some of the biggest learning curves in accustoming your cat to RV life?
TFRV: The biggest learnings were that cats can, rather unexpectedly, do things you wouldn’t expect. For example, we have an induction cooktop with a touch-type set of controls. We learned that Mel can activate them! So I’ve had to modify the cooktop with a secondary switch to make sure it stays off. He can also open the cab windows if he walks around on the armrest! So we have to make sure to take extra care with the windows when we leave the RV. And also – anything that has a filter needs to be cleaned out three times as often to manage cat hair. RVing with your Cat you will need to clean anything with a filter more often.
LMRV: What would you say are some of the biggest perks to RVing with your cat?
TFRV: Mel takes his duties as a companion animal very seriously, and it’s just great having your little buddy around on the road. But also – cats are, by definition, insane. Keeping Mel around pretty much guarantees that there will be random moments of complete nonsense. And who doesn’t need more of that these days? And oh, hey – bonus! We have NEVER had a problem with rodents getting into our RV. Mel even catches flies for us!
LMRV: What are some ways you’ve modified your RV to help Mel feel more at home?
TFRV: Due to our blog, we don’t always travel in our own RV. Sometimes we’re in loaners, or demo units, or something we’re reviewing. Fortunately for us, Mel’s needs are pretty basic. First, of course, is his litter box. We always keep that the same and available to him. We also always bring a scratching post. In our own RV, we wrapped a table leg with rope to give him a scratching post that doesn’t take up any more space. But in some other RVs we’ve traveled in, we either bring a portable one, or we work out some kind of modification. Also, he has a blanket that’s strictly his – and that always goes with us. Those few things and a small assortment of cat toys, props for tricks, his harness, and treats and he’s good to go.
LMRV: What are your 5 top ticks and tricks to traveling with your four-legged furry friend?
1: Get them comfortable with the RV before it starts moving so it’s a safe space for them.
2: We don’t free-feed Mel. Everything works easier with Mel if there’s a schedule and he knows what to expect. That includes food.
3: Keep things consistent for them in other ways. A consistent place to sleep. Litter box clean and available and in the same place. His regular blanket. These familiar things make unfamiliar situations easier to handle (for everyone).
4: When leash and harness training – let things develop on their terms. Even to this day, if we put the harness on Mel, and he doesn’t feel like going outside, we don’t force the issue. This way, it never feels like a punishment.
5: When all else fails, put on some YouTube squirrel or bird videos!
LMRV: What pet gear is necessary for RVers who travel with their cat?
TFRV: Besides the litter box, scratching post, and harness, we recommend some kind of temperature monitor that can alert you if it starts getting too hot or cold in the rig. There are several available that will ping your phone with any problems. We also recommend putting a sign in your windows letting passerby know that the vehicle is climate controlled. It’s our “please don’t break our windows” sign. Finally, we do have a “Tab Cat” on his collar in case he does escape or get lost. It’s our way of finding him in those kinds of emergencies. Thankfully, we’ve never had to use it!
Looking for other inspiration from RVers? Check out our Explorer Spotlight featuring The Charming Adventures of the Millers. Are you an RVing couple or family that have a story to share? Leave us a comment in the section below for a chance to be featured on our Experience Life blog. Be sure to check out our website for our latest RV inventory if you’re in the market for your dream RV. Please make sure to share this RVing with your cat blog post.