"Time spent with cats is never wasted" - Sigmund Freud
Typically, when you think of full-time RV'ers, you visualize an older couple with a pint-sized dog or two (or three) or perhaps, a younger couple or family with a larger dog. Dogs have always been popular companions amongst RVers and Campers. At any hour of the day, you'd see all different breeds being walked by their owners at campgrounds and RV parks. However recently, felines have been making their presence known by storm and have become quite the traveling companions.
It's quite common to see cats slumbering or bird watching (and squirrels...and even cows!) in the windows of RVs; ours included. Sometimes you can spot a cat owner's RV by bird feeders placed near windows (we call that 'cat tv').
Why is that?
We can't speak for any other cat owners but for us, we were already owned by our two sturdy, fluffy, Maine Coon cats; Krissie, our Tortie who is now 8 years old and our Calico, Kandi who is 6, way before making the decision of becoming full-time RV travelers. We would never in a million years think of rehoming our felines. In fact, when we started shopping for our RV, our biggest concern was our fuzzy-headed nomads' comforts and safety. We must have went into dozens of recreational vehicles with those requirements in mind and most of them, we'd walk in and quickly walk out simply because they just weren't going to accommodate our girls. I know that sounds funny. I mean, they're 'just cats', right?
NOPE! Not even!
You see, cats are creatures of independence. While dog owners constant concern is not leaving them too long because they must be let out to pee and walk, we cat owners just make certain they have clean litter boxes, full food dishes, fresh drinking water, windows to watch the birds (squirrels and even cows too!) and a place in the sun for them to nap the day away. So for us, it is no different than living in a sticks and bricks (house) and going out for day trips or even an overnighter. Cats are pretty low maintenance and make awesome RV companions.
So, it's been two years since throwing off our Landmark's stern lines to trek across America, our furry, little bug catchers have settled quite nicely into our nomadic lifestyle. They've each found their own favorite places to nap, know exactly when and where their snackies are (but they can't get them on their own because they don't have thumbs) and where their potty is. We thought transitioning from a 3200 square foot home might be a challenge for them however, they proved quite the opposite. Cats seemingly prefer small places and ours love to be in the same room as we are anyways, so this was a double bonus.
So, how about meeting our furry nomads…
Krissie blessed us with her presence (yes, that's what I said!) eight years ago shortly after Captain Dan was involved in a deer/motorcycle collision and was recovering. He wasn't a 'cat person' but soon, that little mouthy fuzzyhead charmed his heart. Now, they are inseparable.
Dubbed our 'Sheldon Cooper of Cats', Krissie never misses a beat with studying new things in Liberty. Krissie has to have everything 'just perfect'. In fact, she has the sparkly rhinestone crown to prove 'her highness' dangling from her pink collar. (pssst, they're not real diamonds but don't tell her that!)
Then, there's our dear sweet Kandi...
We named her Kandi because she has by far, the sweetest disposition of a cat. A few months after recovering from the loss of another cat we had, we decided Krissie needed a companion to help with her loss and to keep her company while we were both at work.
We adopted Kandi at our veterinarian's office in late 2010; they had recently been handed a family of feral barn kittens without their mother to be adopted. Now, six years later, Kandi is still sweet as can be. She's a 'bigger' girl; weighing in at almost 17 pounds of Maine Coon cuteness.
She loves company; especially men and is quite the little comedian. She uses her extra fluff and big Puss in Boots eyes to get anything she wants. Kandi is our special girl though; she was diagnosed with Feline Hyperesthesia as a kitten. We manage her condition and seizures through the use of Young Living Essential Oils in her very own diffuser.
Prior to leaving Kentucky for good, we discussed with their Vet of implications or issues that may arise. They were both given their immunizations, copies of their medical records and business card if we should need his assistance down the road. Krissie was already microchipped through the Humane Society. Kandi, on the other hand, needed hers before leaving. So, as you see, we brought two adult cats into this RV lifestyle who have adapted quite well as their Veterinarian had told us.
So, fast forward…
We are extremely careful with opening and closing doors with our resident mousers, no matter where we are. Cats are notorious for being escape artists and campgrounds seemingly are the places where cats end up as strays. In fact, there have been a couple times we've helped locate other RVer's cats who escaped from their homes on wheels. (Luckily, we've found them all).
If we do take them outside, they are either in their harnesses or in this cool fully screened 'cat tent' I bought on Amazon.
If they are outside, we are always with them as sometimes, dogs are let off their leashes or wildlife may be in the area.
So, the looming question amongst cat owners who are prospective RVers is 'where to put the litter box?' When shopping for our RV, that was probably the most important concern.
In our Landmark 5th wheel (and our former Heartland Cyclone toyhauler), we put it in the shower on a rug. It's not a big deal to us to move it when we use the shower; just a matter of temporarily relocating it to the bedroom or water closet (our Landmark is the Ashland model with split bath) until we are finished. Further, because living in such a small space, their 'poop is scooped' once or twice a day. We've had several guests come for happy hour or coffee complimenting us on 'not being able to tell we have cats' (ie. odor and hair). We vacuum once or twice a day…which takes a whopping 5 minutes to do our whole coach!
Our other concern is moving day(s). The first thing we do is an hour before hitching up, we put their Young Living "Peace and Calming" Essential Oil blend in their diffuser. Within just a few minutes, they are either sleeping or relaxing quietly 'in their zen' while watching me secure things for travel. It safely and naturally relieves them of their anxieties.
Once everything is put away and Dan is all set outside, we put the girls in the bathroom and close the door. It is ONLY THEN, we can pull in the slides. Sadly, we have heard horrible stories of pets getting crushed in the slides so we take absolutely no chances. Once all the slides are pulled in, we then transfer them from the bathroom to the bedroom where they travel comfortably on the bed with the door closed. Our girls do not tolerate long rides in their small transport kennels and, certainly, the answer isn't to dope them up on narcotics each time we travel which can be detrimental to their health anyway. Besides, have you ever tried giving cat's pills…often?
By the time we arrive at our new destination, they have awakened from their comfortable naps and bounce out of the bedroom after we've opened the living area slides. The first place they go is to the screen door so they can smell the new outside air, check out their new home away from home, count the birds and grimace at passerby dogs on their walks. We return their food and water bowls to their usual place and they're happy campers again. They are quite adaptive and have done exceedingly well with their new role as our crew members.
Since beginning our journey, we have met with hundreds of other RV cats and their owners. We all are intrigued at how each accommodates their feline kids. We tend to gravitate towards each other; always willing to look after each other's kitties while the others fly out or leave for an extensive time period. Cat people love cats; no matter who's cats they are. Our cats are great conversation starters because well…
...Dogs have owners and cats have staff!