RV Cat Struggles

Why home is where the cat is, despite the added stress.

Brooke Baum Brooke Baum  |  09.13.2017

I watch as the ocean breeze blows through her long fluffy hair and the sun shines on her face. Her little nose wiggles to smell the salty air and her eyes widen when she spots a seagull soaring by. I smile as our majestic furbaby soaks in the unique joys of being an RV cat. But, this life isn’t without its struggles – especially for her. She is still adjusting. And most days, we get at least one look of disgust for disturbing her peaceful existence.

Sugar – our ironically named, moody princess – thinks we are idiots for wanting to move her home to a new location every day or so. And when it is time to drive, she sulks off into her cat cave under the bed where she can glare at us from safety. Sugar has never pretended to be a brave adventure cat, and she certainly isn’t going to try now. She hides when things get noisy or shaky, and probably always will.

A Few Extra Considerations

Deciding to travel with our high-maintenance feline has created a decent amount of stress. When we first got our Winnebago, we spent the entire first day blocking off all the small holes she would try to hide in (under the fridge, under the glove compartment, etc.) And now that we are on the road, her comfort and safety informs all of our decision making.

We can’t leave the RV for long if it is hot outside since the cat stays inside it. So, we try to only visit places with mild weather. And we have had to end a few great boondocking sprees for her to have a/c when the weather takes an unexpected turn. However, it is always worth it for the peace of mind.

The Worst of It

Although she does hate driving days, Sugar usually forgives us fairly quickly and often struts out right away when the engine turns off. But, there are two unforgiveable sins in this rolling home: running out of her wet food, and forcefully removing her from her safe space.

Sometimes we end up in the middle-of-nowhere and that is usually when we realize she is on her last can of wet food. Granted, she always has plenty of dry food – but that isn’t her main concern. Running out of her nightly treat leads to screams of anger until the problem is resolved. And since our picky brat only likes one specific flavor, it is quite the wild goose chase to track it down in remote places. Often, we go out of our way to find a store that stocks it. (Is it becoming clear who wears the pants in this family?)

Another situation we have come to loathe is having to remove her from the RV during service visits. Of course, she knows scary things are happening. So, when it is time to take her out of her hiding spot, she has had plenty of time to channel her inner-demon and we are met with hissing, snarling, scratching and biting. It is often an all-out war to get her in the carrier. But once in there, she calms down, looks around as we walk and takes a nap like nothing happened. Meanwhile, we are sweaty, fur-covered, and have blank, defeated looks on our faces. These days always end with lots and lots of wine.

So, Why Do It?

We often ask ourselves why we put up with our crazy cat. She pretty much hates everyone and everything. We can’t even have people over without her hissing at them or – best case scenario – hiding until they leave. She even hisses at strangers when they walk too closely to the window or door (full disclosure: we think this is kind of hilarious). Our cat is a total mess and that has only been made more obvious in the RV.

But here’s the thing, for whatever reason, Sugar loves us. Really, she does. She snuggles with us in the mornings and at night, hops in our laps for a mid-day belly rub, and is always excited to see us when we get home from an adventure – whether a few minutes or all day. And despite her obvious personality defects, we love her too. When we brought home that feisty ball of fur eight years ago, something changed. She made us a family.

So, even though dragging her along on our crazy RV adventure adds some stress, leaving her behind just wasn’t an option. Although there are some bad days, there are far more happy moments together. We have snuggled the day away in bad weather, laughed at her failed attempts at catching bugs that get inside, and felt the immense happiness of watching our fickle cat enjoy a moment of pure bliss in a place she would have never experienced in a sticks-and-bricks home.

Without her, we’d just live in an RV. But, having her with us truly makes this rolling metal box a home.

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  1. Maria Posted on 11.14.2018

    I love this so much! It gives me hope that we can get our kitty accustomed. Pretty sure all she cares about is being with us and watching birds :)

    1. Brooke Baum Posted on 11.15.2018

      My biggest tip would be no long driving days if you can help it. The stress level definitely rises when on the move for too long. Best of luck!

  2. James Bathurst Posted on 10.29.2017

    We get it. I am sure we bought our first motorhome in 1991 so our cat could travel with us. I wrote a book (Cat On A Leash) about traveling by boat and RV with our second cat. Our current little furry girl is a great traveler – she also likes to walk on a leash to explore each new campground. I can’t imagine traveling without our furry girl. And, yes, we make stopping/staying decisions with her comfort in mind, too. (Captain Jim & the Blonde, and Izzy the travel cat, Winnebago Aspect)

  3. Mitch Posted on 10.27.2017

    Nice article. Hope you guys are doing well and back into the USA by now I would imagine. We met in PEI.
    We have 2 wonderful poodles and like you said life would different without them and they make the RV feel more like a home. Safe Travels, Hope to see you next summer on the East Coast. Take Care.

  4. ali Posted on 09.19.2017

    My husband recently lost his job and we are seriously considering taking this time to travel with our two small children. We already homeschool so that’s covered, and of all the other things we should be worried about what to do with our Beautiful Ragdoll kitten is what’s holding us back! I was worried about all the things you mentioned…So glad to see you didn’t let it stop you!

  5. Brooke & Buddy Baum Posted on 09.16.2017

    Kara – Thank you! We have a Winnebago View 24V model. The bed converts from two twins to an RV King. Under the bed, there is an open area (where there is a step between the two twin beds) – the litter box fits perfectly there and the cat has decided the small step behind it is her safe spot (which we are fine with since it is so close to her box). Best of luck on your search! :)

  6. Kara Posted on 09.14.2017

    Love this article! I am campaigning and dreaming of full-time RVing! I have my work cut out trying to get my husband and 9yo on board. Small steps though with my crew which will begin by visiting the big RV show this weekend in Dallas. I quickly found answers to so many potential dealbreakers…telecommuting! home schooling! And now I see that cats can be RV travelers too! Your cat has such beautiful coloring and I laughed at all the personality quirks. Just curious if you found a convenient out of the way place for a litter box? Thanks for sharing this!