Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kitties - Preparing for life on the Road

I have loved cats as long as I can remember.  Don't get me wrong, I like dogs and have even loved a few but I love, truly love cats. 
  •  I love their independent nature maybe because I share this love of independence and we co-exist together wonderfully. 
  •  I love the way they beckon you to share in their world while leading you to believe it was your idea.  
  • I love the single-mindedness they show whether hunting or curling up for a nap in your lap.
Traveling with kitties presents some unique challenges that I have been giving a great deal of consideration.

My cats have approached time in Lolita (my home on wheels) each in their own way. Emmit, my male kitty companion marched right in when I left the door open, like he owned the place and checked every corner, nook and cranny out before curling up for a nap.  Spook on the other hand,  wanted no part of coming into the trailer so I carried her into the trailer and set her down on the couch beside me.  She immediately sprung from window to window, frantically looking for a way to escape, tearing screens on the windows in the process.  Clearly, she will require considerable preparation before travel date.   

I am scouring blogs looking for hints that have made traveling with cats in small spaces a pleasurable and safe journey.  I am also using my time while preparing for life on the road to ready my feline companions for their life of adventure.  Here are some of the things we are doing to prepare.

Cat Harness and leads   Kitties are getting harness ready. On days at home I am placing kitties in a harness with no lead attached as a way for them to get used to having the harness on.  It is hysterical to watch their reaction to their safety harness.  When putting on the harness they protest loudly and then refuse to move, laying flat as a pancake on the floor.  Gradually they forget the indignation, hunger wins out and they resume their activities.    Next day, same result.... 

I am in the process of trying out different harnesses for the kits.   I have added additional straps to other harnesses prevent the harness from tightening around the cats neck for safety. I only use the harness when I am present to supervise and as a safety mechanism for safely transitioning such as going from the door to tent or truck.
The one that I am happiest with to date is,  Come With Me Kitty, Harness and Bungee Leash.  I am not sure this is THE one but eventually we will find the right one.

Now if I can get one of my cats to go for a walk, I will be in heaven!

Scratching fun. 

Cats love to scratch.  My experience has taught me that I need  to provide them a fun place to scratch or they will find their own.

Emmit patiently waiting his turn
 Shown is a  Bergan Turbo Scratcher toy combo.  My cats love to scratch on the middle (it is rolled cardboard and will eventually shred. toy and replacements available on Amazon)  For play, the ball on the outside edge spins around and around.  My personal sanity hint would be to put the toy away at night unless you want to hear the ball spinning all night.  A little catnip and the kitties are busy for hours.

I also have a heavy door mat made of  coco fiber that I have discovered the cats love to scratch on.  It does not disintegrate so is a wonderful scratching place and it provides double duty as a great door mat for feet.

Collapsible Travel Crate   Every cat needs their own collapsible crate - since space is always a consideration each cat will need their own travel space to contain the kitty independent nature on the road.  Travel time in the tow vehicle and trailer door openings need to be planned for, to prevent unsecured escapes.  I am also using their travel crates as a way to expose them to new environments in their familiar cocoon.   A hard bodied crate may be needed to contain a frightened or determined escape artist, at least in the 'training' phase.

Beds and hiding places

On of my kitties loves to sleep in a kitty bed,  another likes to sleep either on me or my bed with me.   Most kitties also like a hidden place to hang out for a nap.   A blanket, collapsible kitty tent, or taking alone a kitty bed satisfies their need for a cozy personal space and contains cat hair too.

A cat house for the road 

ABO Gear Happy Habitat
The ABO Gear Happy Habitat provides more than 30 square feet for your kitties to run around and play in.  It maintains your pets’ natural instincts to be outdoors without compromising their safety. There is a floor in the tent to aid in containing determined felines.  Folds tightly into convenient carry bag for fun on the go and pops up easily for a quick outside break. Measures 74 x 63 x 36 inches and weighs just 2.5 pounds for easy carrying.  For Spook, I am sitting inside the tent, (in the house) and helping her get used to the idea of the tent....  this is ideal for quick stops at a rest stop for some outside time.   A litter box, toys and cat bed can be added to make it home on the go.  Ideally I would like to find a screen room (floor required to prevent escapes)  or tent with a screen room for longer term setups that is more substantial but this should get us started.

Cat boxes  Cat litter boxes are necessary for traveling kitties.  Deciding on the one that fits your needs and lifestyle is an individual choice.  The Omega self-cleaning box is receiving rave reviews and is the one that we will be using on the road.

The Roll’n Clean, Self-Cleaning Litter Box works best with clumping and silica litters. Simply roll the litter box to the right until the top touches the floor then roll it back to the upright position. Inside, a unique patented screen separates the clean litter from the clumped waste – putting all the waste into the scoop. Pull out the scoop and dispose the waste into a plastic bag lined five gallon bucket with a lid to contain odors until disposal.    It’s that easy!
The scoop on how it works!

 I will be cutting a hole in a on the cupboard door lowest to the floor to allow the cat to enter the cat box to do business. This will prevent cat litter from spilling out into the hallway or me accidentally stepping into the cat box.    What is not to love!

Like all aspects of living on the road I expect that my ideas will change with time.  New products or insights from other road travelers will change how the kitties and I cope with the challenges on the road.

I'll keep you posted on how these ideas and products work for us.

I would love to know  other feline road travelers hints and what works for you.  Share this with the cat lovers you know.   Come on and share.  We all want to know what works!

                               Dogs have owners, Cats have staff.


  1. We have 3 of this exact litterbox for our herd of 6. Would buy them again in a heartbeat. One tip is to give the bottom a few whacks when you roll it so that anything sticking to the bottom drops away.


  2. Ah, yes, we're STAFF for sure. Our two kitties have become pretty seasoned travelers & RVers now after 18 months of living small. Because Boots is a 20# Maine Coon, the litter box (a plastic tub actually) is open & placed by the door (not enough room for him if it was under the bed). It gets cleaned out often this way. I have a foldable 'kitty tent' that neither cat ever cared for so it stays in storage. Boots is OK wearing Kira's puppy collar with a leash attached when outside. He's happy under the trailer usually. TK never went outside before traveling, so as long as she can see out a window in the trailer, she's happy. They both hide (investigate) the areas under the bed & under the shelves parked along side our bed. Since cats "live vertically", I'm glad they have different levels in their world. They seem to prefer to travel free in the trailer rather than in their crates in the pickup. I like knowing they're secure in crates, but hate keeping them for long travel days without water, food, or litter box. We're still working on this problem. Because Kira loves cat food, the food dispenser lives on the counter. We have a 'cat bed' but both cats prefer to sleep wherever they want & frequently change their favorite places. I believe they both feel the trailer is now HOME by the way they act when they've been outside (on leash or in a crate). We ALL adjust!

  3. Spook sounds like a cat we had... a little on the nervous side... so much so we named him Jitters. :)) Good luck...
    Box Canyon Mark

  4. Great post. Good luck with the harnesses. Our adult cats did not do well and we could barely get them to move let alone walk on a leash! They wore us down and we finally gave up and just let them out unleashed for short periods with close supervision.
    We used the Clever Cat litter box, a big tub with a top entrance for cats that throw lots of litter out of a regular box. Our new kitties are too small for it yet but it is great if you don't have a cupboard to put a box in like you do.
    Good luck! You will work things out and they will eventually adjust to their new home on wheels.

  5. need to join this group on FB-

    some of the things you show are kinda big. Where are you gonna fit them?


  6. That Abo tent is fantastic - I now have two of them. Set up so fast and easy and I let the cats in them for breaks from travel, with a litter box. They love them, and the fraidy cat Rowdy actually wants to be in the tent when outside.

  7. Jim and Gayle, when I was fulltime in an RV a few years back I too could not get my kitty used to a leash or harness so when in safe places and parked for a few days, I would just let him out under supervision. He did great !!