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Traveling With Cats

Dang CatFor those of you who travel with a cat, you know it is hard for a cat to get exercise living full time in a box. Allowing them outside when traveling can be dangerous with so many dogs and wild life around in prime camping areas not to mention diseases, fleas, ticks, and the possibility they may not make it home before you have to leave. For these reasons, my cat had to become an indoor only cat. It has not been easy on her being unable to stalk the wild and do those things cats love to do outside. I have lots of toys on board including the obligatory string on a stick and a popup condo she can use to attack whatever foot passes by or demon that dares to scratch the outside walls. Still, it can get quite boring for her and just like people, when bored she eats. That’s not good. I have a few suggestions on that and general traveling with cats tips.

1. Two cats – if your cat is not too old and willing to accept another cat, it may be good to have a companion for him/her on board. They can play with each other and keep each other company when you are away. Of course, this will increase the cost of feeding, boarding, and vet bills but is something to consider. Again, they must be compatible. You can’t just bring another cat in and expect they will like each other or play with each other. I have had cats that were total loners and cats that were very good friends. They are as different as people are.

2. Bird feeders – hang a bird feeder outside a window where a cat can sit, walk back and forth, and watch them for entertainment. Hummingbird feeders are nice and easy to fill.

3. Cat food ball – rather than leaving dry food out all day to eat at will, put the food in a cat food ball which they must roll around to dispense their food. Not only will they get some exercise, it will dispense the food slower and when it is empty, that is it until the next feeding thus limiting their intake. It is also quite entertaining for them as well as you. Most cats figure it out right away if you show them how to do it. They are quite inexpensive and much better for them than an open dish or constant feeder. I bought mine at Amazon.

Cat Food Ball

4. Scratching post – either keep a scratching post on board if you have the room or make your own! You can wrap any table or chair leg with sisal rope to make a fun scratching post. I suggest going 1.5 to 2 feet high. If your cat won’t use it at first, move something of theirs next to it. My cat ignored it until I moved her pad over by it and now she loves it.

DIY Scratching Post

5. Make a private space for him/her. My cat has her own private condo under the couch. I cut a large hole/door into the front board of the couch, recovered it with the upholstery I had pulled back before cutting, and keep space clear under there for her. She likes to disappear under there to the cool darkness whenever company comes, it gets hot, or I stomp around too much. Others put a blanket on the dash of a motorhome, a pet bed in a quiet corner, etc.

Cat Condo

6. Keep the litter box handy and clean. Unfortunately, space is a premium in an RV but there is usually some handy corner the box can go. Ours is under a side table. I know some creative folks who have put it in the truck well of a camper with a cat door mounted in the door to the well. One couple was able to put a door in their motorhome that leads to the storage underneath where they keep the box. Another couple keeps it in the shower. Wherever it goes, it must be checked and cleaned regularly. Cats don’t like stepping through their droppings any more than we do. Beware of out of sight, out of mind. It must be kept clean.

7. Keep the water clean and flowing. A traveling cat needs lots of clean water. A well-maintained water dish is fine. You can use a dish that uses a 2 liter bottle or something similar to dispense more water or now they have moving water fountains with filters that cats like but require electricity to operate. I do recommend filtering all water provided to a traveling cat to keep the different water systems you come across from affecting their tummies. There may be some places where bottled water is the only thing to use for both you and your pet (example: Ocala, FL).

8. Keep their rabies shots up to date and carry their vaccination certificate in a handy place. Some parks may require it to stay there. I have only been asked a couple times for it in 6 years but it can happen and you will need it if you go outside the U.S.

9. Read campground listings carefully. There are some (only a few) who do not allow pets of any kind. When in doubt, call them and ask. I have seen many who state they charge for “pets” but I have never been charged for my cat, especially when I tell them she is an indoor only cat. The term “pets” usually seems to refer to dogs but don’t count on it.

10. Don’t forget the catnip!

That’s my list for traveling with cats. I hope it helps to make your travels with Charley an enjoyable experience for both of you. Anyone else have something to add or an experience to tell?

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