How to Train Your Cat to Enjoy RVing: Vanna Mae

Published on May 19th, 2021

RVing with your furry friend can bring so many rewarding experiences and memories. You get to see the world together, experience many “firsts” with them, and not feel alone. I travel solo with my cat Indigo in a small Class C RV. I feel like our bond has grown closer since hitting the road. Even with the unexpected turns and twists life brings us, we have each other and she shows me in her own way she appreciates this experience as much as I do.

Young woman holds her cat seated at the wheel of her class c rv

I’ve had my little black cat Indigo for 8 wonderful years. I found her as a kitten during a hot Las Vegas summer in front of my home. I rescued her and she’s been by my side ever since. When I chose to live the RV life, one of my main motivations was her. I was inspired to give her a better life and show her the world. With this in mind, a lot of my choices to prepare for RV life revolve around her and making sure she feels safe and ready for travel. 

The best advice I’ve learned while making this transition from house to RV with a cat is patience! Cats are very adaptable if you give them the time and space they need to change. Cats have to go at their own pace and you just get to enjoy them learning something new and adapting.

Young woman and her cat, who is wearing a leash and harness

Leash Training Your Cat

A year before Indigo and I moved into the RV, I started leash training her. Leash training has so many benefits, it gives you the chance to take your cat on walks and to explore the outdoors with you. The process became a practice in patience, lots of treats, and encouragement. The first step was getting her use to the harness. When she got comfortable with being on a harness then I added the leash. When she didn’t mind that, I introduced her to the outside, in a nice quiet environment. I did this way before bringing her in the RV. I reminded myself to just take it one day at a time and go at her own pace. Eventually, she learned how to walk on her leash.

Small black cat sits in a carrier overlooking a gorge

Alternatives to Leash Training

It’s best not to rush this process and it’s totally okay if your cat doesn’t approve of it at first. It takes time. But most importantly, listening to your cat. If it’s not their vibe, it’s best not to force anything. Every cat is different and there are alternatives to leash training, like a cat backpack. 

The key is to build trust with your cat so she feels safe and most of all, in control of the situation. 

It brings me joy to see Indigo learn and grow each time we go on walks. I’m proud to say now, a year and a half into RV life, she’s able to go on full walks with me. It’s a bit different from walking a dog, she walks me, I don’t walk her. She’s learned to walk on paths and follow sidewalks, making many stops to sniff everything. Now we both enjoy our walking time and it’s becoming a daily routine. 

A great accessory to add to leash training is getting a cat backpack. It’s useful to have when she feels tired, frightened, and needs to feel safe, I’ll just put her in her backpack and continue our walk. It’s also great to carry her while running errands or going on a hike. Make sure when picking a backpack to know your cat’s weight and that it has good back support.

Small black cat sits on shelving in class c rv
litter box storage in an rv

The “Liter”al Truth

Next step was prepping the RV for my cat, specifically her litter box. A great way to find where to put a litter box was looking on social media for ideas. I found people that had the same RV as me and saw where they put their litter box. I actually found a couple that made their cats litter box from a chair. And I pretty much did something similar and thanked them for the idea. I took out an old chair and constructed a new custom chair with the help of my friend Nick Cantu (@nicktherenaissanceman).

Inside Indigo’s litter box holds most of her pet supplies. I can access the litter box by a swinging door. I also added extra storage on the back frame that’s separate from Indigo’s litter box. Indigo used it as soon as she got in the RV and liked the kitty door. As far as the smell goes, because I used natural wood the smell seems to stay inside the box. I try to clean daily to keep my furfriend happy. 

small black cat sits in the top cab of a class c rv

First Day on the Road: Getting Indigo Comfortable with the RV

Indigo’s first time inside the RV was a big step for both of us. I worked hard to make sure she had enough space to hide and relax. The RV I chose for our home, I had her in mind. There’s plenty of windows for her to look outside, a cozy queen size bed above the cab so she could hide and be high up. I also attempted to add a cat diy scratcher on the pole on my dinette table and had her favorite toys and scented clothes of mine in places she could find it.

The first night she hid under the driver seat until she became comfortable. I stayed in one RV campground for a couple of nights for her to adjust to the RV without moving. I let her go at her pace. Eventually, she came out, explored, used the litter box. Cats rely on smell. This might be a bit TMI, but I made sure to have familiar smells around her, like my clothes and blankets not yet washed. This helped her feel comfortable. Within two days she started to rub up on things and make the space hers. 

Black cat lays comfortably on a bed

How to Get Cats Adjusted to Moving RVs

Moving the RV was a big adjustment. At first I had in her cat carrier which she didn’t like and actually ripped it apart. One useful tips was asking people in RV related groups for advice. Some suggested letting her free roam and find her spot, which was scary to me at first. But I tested it and found this to be the best solution. She loves to sit in the passenger seat while I drive, look out the window and sleep most of the ride. I put a special pillow there for her so she could relax while driving. Unlike in a car, Indigo is very calm while driving and enjoys when I play Taylor Swift songs during road trips.

Young woman has her black cat bundled in her coat
Black cat sits on a wood post with its paw outstretched

Always With My Best Friend!

Having Indigo on the road with me has been good for my mental health and happiness. It’s a blessing seeing her happy everyday. When things get overwhelming, she reminds me of my “why”. We’re currently traveling across the country and it’s been a fun experience watching her react to different environmental changes and meeting new people. Our bond has grown stronger and we now flow on the same schedule. We cuddle every night and wake up together. Going on walks and enjoying the outdoors has become our daily route.

I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of this topic of traveling with a cat. If you would like for me to write more about this topic, make sure to leave a comment below! I have so many fun stories and other tips and tricks I’d love to share. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

About the author: Vanna Mae is a visual artist and influencer, traveling around the country in her 19ft Class C RV with her cat Indigo. Keep up with their adventures on Instagram @vannamaeart and on YouTube.

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