Motorhome Travel With A Cat

The ability to keep a cat was something I looked forward to when changing from being a tent camper to owning a motorhome. I had seen many motorhomes and campervans with cats happily snoozing on the dashboard and could not wait to have our own. I didn’t anticipate the extra work that would be required.

Bringing an existing cat into your motorhome

Already have a cat and want to introduce them to motorhome life? If you have an older, indoor-only cat this should be possible. An outdoor cat that likes to roam is unlikely to adjust.

Before bringing the cat into your motorhome, you will need to get down to a cat’s level and look for every possible escape route, hidden danger, and hiding spot (more on this later). Introduce them to their new environment slowly. Let them spend the day inside while parked. Make sure you have created a few hiding places. We keep a cat carrier covered behind the driver’s seat and a small cat bed under the passenger’s seat.

Cats like to hide and a scared cat may head straight under the dashboard and attempt to hide there. This surprised me because I had no idea that there was so much available hiding space underneath the dash. When we brought our new kitten home, this is the first place she headed for and it was difficult to get her out because she was so small. We ended up blocking the entire area underneath the dash with blankets and pillows while she got used to her new home. She did manage to squeeze in once more during this time and knocked a wire down from under the steering wheel. Fortunately, it was only an extra ground wire that had not been connected to anything and the mechanic just taped it back up.

Adopting a cat or kitten while traveling

Kitten wearing a sweater in a pink basket.
Our kitten, Cola.

If you are already travelling and want to adopt a cat or kitten, you should be aware that many animal shelters and rescues will not allow you to adopt unless you are a resident of that country. You might check with local vets or look on local facebook groups that advertise pets that need adopting. That is what we did.

This is our kitten, Cola. We adopted her from a veterinarian’s office in Rinc√≥n de la Victoria, Spain. As soon as I saw this adoption photo on a local cat adoption Facebook group, I knew that I had to rescue her so that nobody could ever force her into a silly Christmas sweater again.

Cat allergies and motorhomes, or, how the heck can one cat shed so much fur?!?

Kitten sleeping on a pillow.
Cola sleeping on my pillow. I can’t imagine why I sneeze all the time.

Before you even consider bringing a cat into a tiny living space like a motorhome, you need to consider whether any family members have the tiniest bit of an allergy to cats or any form of asthma. All that fur and dander builds up fast in a small space and a person who might only have itchy eyes around a cat in a house may become quite ill when living with a cat in a small space.

You will need to sweep the floor every day. You will also need a handheld vacuum, like a dust buster to get fur off of the seat, dinette cushions, bed and pillows. Make sure you lift the mattress up and vacuum underneath the edges every time you change your sheets..

We try to go to a car wash with a vacuum every 2 weeks to vacuum out the front seats and cab area. You can also take the dinette seats out, place them on a sheet or something, and give them a good vacuuming as well since the suction on a car wash vacuum is going to be much better than your handheld vacuum.

You need an air purifier. We have the Levoit Core 300 and it helps a lot.

You need to brush the cat. This will make a big difference in the amount of fur on your floor and seats. Long-haired cats need to be brushed every day, and medium-haired cats at least 3 times per week but you can brush them every day if they are going through a shedding cycle.

If you are really serious about cutting down on the amount of fur flying around your motorhome, then you need to buy a Furminator. This device helps remove the undercoat and it makes a tremendous difference. Trust me, you want this, you need this.

If all this extra cleaning sounds like too much trouble, you might want to reconsider bringing a cat into a motorhome.

Where do you put the litter box?

Some motorhome owners are able to create a small door in a cabinet or one of the dinette seats and hide the litter box inside. This was not possible in our motorhome so we currently have the litter box between the front seats while parked. This is far from an ideal situation. For one thing, it prevents me from using the passenger seat as a cozy reading spot.

I recommend using a top entry litter box to minimize the amount of spilled litter. A litter box mat underneath will help too. Using clumping litter will cut down on the smell.

Keeping kitty safe while driving.

When we are driving, we keep the cat in the bathroom so that she doesn’t try to get under the driver’s feet. The litter box is placed in the shower. I put a strip of duct tape over the drain to keep out spilled litter since we only use the shower as a coat closet anyway. I move her cat bed from under the front seat to the bathroom floor and leave her with dry food and a small amount of water (so it does not spill).

The first few times we drove, she was not happy with this arrangement and meowed loudly for over an hour. She quickly got used to it and now uses the time to nap uninterrupted.

When she was a smaller kitten, she somehow managed to squeeze into the cabinet under the sink by climbing through the side. Be aware of this possibility and don’t store anything under there that is not safe for the cat. If you leave any toilet roll out, you can expect a bored kitty to shred it.

Can you ever let a motorhome cat outside?

Cats are very different from dogs. The majority will not come when you call to them. A cat that gets outside is most likely to try and hide under the motorhome or under a bush. I think it is a really bad idea to let them out but I have seen some people do it that were obviously staying at a campground long term.

I have also seen a couple in a campervan who had their cat in a harness on a leash and the leash was tied to the open van door so the cat could explore a small area outside the van. The cat looked pretty happy with this arrangement but your results may vary.

3 thoughts on “Motorhome Travel With A Cat”

  1. Very interested, we travel with two cat’s. Both older and trusting us. They love to go for walks with us. We slowly got them used to walks, tried harness in the beginning but both escaped in seconds. Otherwise we have similar set up inside MH. It’s been great being able to talk them with us.

  2. Thank you so much for this detailed information about traveling with a cat in a motor home! I want to take a long road trip, but can’t bear to be separated from my two cats. I feel hopeful that with lots of planning and work, I can bring them with me.
    Safe journeys to you and your sweet kitty.

  3. I’m 90. If I didn’t had a cat I’d forget it. We have in the past traveled with two different Siamese. One an under the dash board type, the other on the dash type. While broke down the on the dash cat escaped. Our repairs completed the next day and no Troubles(the cat). I made out our phone number and address in case she turn up. As I was closing the motorhome door, bang who comes running in but Troubles. No, if raised like ours , with a cat door, permitting them to come a go freely I would never do it. Having said that, I have a Lab, some sort of miniature dog, one of one of my relatives dumped on me and Rose. You guessed it a Siamese. I got her from the Humane Society a couple of years ago. I thought she would be of comfort to my wife(who was under Hospice Care. Rose Evidently had been abused, been frighten of humans. It has been two years and Rose just now will let me pet her. However she loves my Lab, from the very beginning she will run to him and rub back and forth. Well, I live in Texas and I have a daughter in Maryland, and I also So have our old motorhome that I’m renovating. So the man said don’t do it, is loading up two dogs and Rose and trying to make it ti Maryland. I guess you rack it up to ,”Love”, dogs cat, and daughter!!!!


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