Monday, July 15, 2013

Kitties Adjusting on the Road

Lets be real, this is a cat house.....they just let me live here!

I travel in a 16 foot vintage trailer with 3 adult cats.  They did not grow up traveling and are learning to adjust to a new life style as am I.  I am often asked how I helped them adjust to life on the road.
I began thinking about helping the kitties transition to life on the road long before the departure date.

Happy Cats

To help create an environment they could be happy in, I spent time observing each kitty and how they spent their day.  Here is some observations about my kitties.

Two of my kitties (Emmit and Socks) spent most of their time indoors but were happy to have perches that allowed them to watch all of the comings and goings outside.The  third cat (Spook) seemed to go outside for an extended time at least once during the day and then spent the rest of the day cat napping in several of her favorite spots.  

So to begin with,  I began to think about how to duplicate there routine in a much smaller space, our home on wheels, Lolita the vintage trailer.  

Here are some of the things that have helped them adjust to life on the road

Provide a way to have outside time to meet the needs of the kittiesIt seemed important to my kitties to have outside time that they can access themselves at any time.  I accomplished this by adding outside space in the form of a kennel attached to the outside of the trailer with bungee cords.  A cat door mounted into a outside cargo hatch allows them to enter the trailer or go out at any time I have the door unlocked.

A 1/4 inch board, cut to fit around the opening to enclose around a kennel  door next to the trailer prevents any unscheduled departures.  My kitties spend a lot of time outside napping and observing their surroundings.  I love having the cat box OUTSIDE.

close up showing board mounted next to cat door

I set up my outdoor area near the kitties and they seem happy to be apart of the camp routine.

I have let my kitties out to snoop around camp occasionally (not counting escapes) when during the day, after checking out our environment I have determined it to be safe.  They always return to the security of the trailer.  The kennel attachment allows them outside time even when it is not safe to be out loose or in campgrounds with dogs and other frightening humans (you know, the 3 feet tall kiddo humans).

Abo  tents can provide some kitties an outside place area to play.  A cat bed, blanket, kitty box and food and water gives them some outside time

Unlike the  security of the kennel, my cats spend a lot of time looking for an escape route in the tent.  I only use the tent when I am outside cooking or am outside for an extended time.  Other people use  the tents for a potty break for the kitties and a time out of their kennels at a rest stop during a long day of travel.  I'm hoping this will improve as they spend more time in the tent.

As I began this process I thought halters attached to a zip line would be a wonderful alternative.  Halters have seemed to work for some cats.  NOT FOR MINE!  I have tried 4 different halters with the same result..  I have raised Houdini kitties capable and determined to escape halters.  At this present time I have abandoned all efforts to use halters.  I certainly am glad I tried this at home before departure to ensure that the kitties had plenty of time to get over being mad and come home before departure date. This would have been much more difficult had I tried this on the road.

Provide plenty of hiding spots or kitty bedsAny one who loves kitties knows that they love little hiding spots to hide out for some alone time.  I also have a kitty bed under the couch just inside the kitty door for another space for alone time.  Another favorite hiding spot is under my bed where a favorite blanket serves as another secret spot.
I have given up a number of spots that they seem to love and instead provided a favorite blanket of the kitties to make it homier and more familiar to them.  I cubby at the head of my bed that I thought would be a nice spot for Jammies has been taken over by Emmit for napping.  I have noticed when I am begin to ready the trailer to move to another spot kitties will (I have since moved my jammies to another spot)  Another popular spot in the trailer is the drawers that compromise the 'office'.  A blanket on top make a perfect perch for bird watching out the window.

Emmit keeping an I on me

Cat Boxes & the Poo Bucket - Everyone has a preference for what works best for them...  For me, I prefer a cat box sifter (It comes with 2 cat boxes and a sifter tray. (Hometec Lift N Sift Cat LitterTray, available on Amazon) 

I pour the used scoopable litter into the second tray fitted with the sifter tray on top.  Then pick up the sifter tray and  pour the used contents into a grocery bag and tie the ends.  At a campground the bags go in the dumpster.

Since I often am often away from traditional campgrounds I store the bags in a 5 gallon bucket with screw on lid until I can get to a dumpster.  They screw on lids snap a ring onto the bucket and the interior lid screws on and off easily for weak or arthritic hands.   These are available at big box home improvement stores or of course my favorite....,

Cat Scratcher toys - Tiny living spaces require tiny solutions.  One toy of necessity that works for us is the Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy available a pet stores or you guessed  It provides a place to scratch.... a ball to chase and a little cat nip makes it highly desirable for the feline set. 

Cat Food -  one of my cats is allergic to grains found in common cat foods.  She requires a grain free cat food (otherwise my black cat Spook would be hairless!  Not a pretty sight!)  This means finding a pet store on the road or mail order.  In the summer I must be careful to not have too much on hand due to spoilage in the heat.  

Travel in the truck  - All three cats currently travel in the truck in the back seat in cat carriers. While the other two cats nap the day away, dear Emmit continues to meow constantly while traveling..... All threats have been to no avail...  
Turn up the radio and travel on.   To get a clear picture of an exciting travel day with Emmit  read this blog entry.

  Stay tuned.... there are many more lessons to be learned!



  1. Our kittens are doing so well with their harnesses and leash walking. Our older cats never did get the hang of it and we were not patient enough to keep trying. We are using these harnesses and they work great.
    We tried the tent years ago with our other cats. They just attempted to dig out of it like yours are doing. I like your outside cage idea. Whatever works to make those furry ones happy!

    1. Yep, have to have happy kitties! I have a holster also... She escapes like a bullet!!

  2. Wow you have some lucky cats. You've spent a lot of time thinking about their needs and finding creative ways to satisfy them. Poor Emmit, I hope he grows out of the constant travel meowing for both of your sakes.

  3. I would be interested in knowing what grain free foods you found for your kitties. We also travel with cats.

    1. I have been using Natural Balance, Green and Duck Formula. They have several grain free formulas that they have also eaten. I buy the Salmon for them during the summer months as it has a stronger smell and we are often in bear country. Added benefit is they have the shiniest coats ever!!

  4. Getting out pets to be happy campers is work. As I have posted Fred is not a happy camper yet. The screen room with the grass mat helped some. Luckily I had another screen room. I think he will adapted as long as I make it comfy for him.

    My friend has a similar set up for her cat. she loves it.

  5. So glad your kitties are adjusting. Like you, I acclimated ours to the trailer before hitting the road & after 2 years, this is definitely their home. Although TK never wanted outside at home, she definitely wants her window seat in the trailer to look out. Big-boy Boots (25# Maine Coon) is happy on a light leash outside for awhile. We get our exercise just letting him in & out. He's snuck outside a couple of times, but thankfully hides under the trailer until ready to run back inside. We have cat crates for them in the pickup but they learned to hide when I start prepping to travel. . .so we just leave them in their home now when we move & they find comfy spots to sleep the day away. They're 9 & 10 years old now so content to sleep alot.