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How to RV with Indoor versus Outdoor Cats
By Julee Meltzer
How to RV with Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats
I have always been torn between letting my cats outside and keeping them in. As a long-time cat lover, I know that cats that stay inside live a lot longer than cats that are let outside. Yet, I have lived in situations where my cats have had a cat door, so I know the happiness that cats find in the outdoors.
In this article we will cover how to take the best possible care of your indoor cat. Then, in the next article we will discuss letting your cat outside. We will also talk about taking your cats along on your next RV trip, whether they are indoor or outdoor cats.
While researching this issue, I typed in the term “indoor cats” into Google and I got half a million results! I did find an Indoor Cat Initiative sponsored by the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. They have some nice recommendations on how to keep your indoor cat interested, happy, and healthy. They have a great checklist that covers the basics for indoor cats; here is an excerpt of the list with my comments for how we apply them to RV cats and for stays in an RV park with your cat.
Obviously, finding a place in your RV for the litter box is the number one job for cat owners. We kept ours in the shower for years, but I got tired of moving it out and cleaning up the floor of the shower every time I wanted to take a shower. So, now it is in the vanity area, taking up the entire space in front of the bathroom sink. In other words, no matter where you put a litter box in an RV, it will probably be in someone’s way. Incidentally, cats are inherently lazy and here is why I know that. When we lived in a large house, we had four litter boxes strategically located throughout the house for our cats. And, every time one of them had to go, they went straight for the nearest box, even if there was another cat already in it and they would have to wait to use it.
There are, of course, some very creative places to put a litter box; we have even had some readers cut a hole in the floor of their motorhome so that the litter box can be placed in the cargo compartment.
Cat Scratching in the RV
This is where I have failed the most with my RV cats. Well actually, one of my cats. She has basically ransacked the entire RV. She has clawed up the carpet in the following areas: the steps, the doghouse, the bedroom floor, and underneath the seats. In addition, she has clawed the edges of the couch and the passenger bucket seat.
At any rate, I figured out way too late that cats need scratching posts in RVs. So, we now buy those little cardboard ones and put it on the floor in front of the shower. Both cats use it at least three times a day. It really works; I just wish I had thought of it before we took our first RV trip with our cats.
Resting Areas in the RV
Until this past summer, we had two dogs and three cats in our RV. Since then, we sadly lost our younger dog and our oldest cat. Consequently, we used to keep our cats in the bedroom most of the time. Now, with only one dog, the cats are allowed to roam the entire RV. We have found that they love to have a few places set aside for them to sleep - undisturbed by dogs or babies. As a result, we have placed a towel on the dashboard and one on the front seat for the cats. During every waking hour there is always a cat on one of those towels. The point is that you need to consciously choose a few places for your cat to sleep in the RV. RVing with cats is rewarding, but requires pre-planning in areas you wouldn't otherwise consider.
All cats love to sit and enjoy the view of the RV park. Once, we were at an RV park in Maine where we had a family of wild turkeys that came onto our site every morning like clockwork. You better believe that our cats sat on the dinette table waiting for the show every day. There are many places that you can create a perch for your cat in your RV. My husband Jack made a bookshelf high above the passenger seat and whenever we get ready to travel we clear it off. Very quickly, it becomes a desirable perch for our younger cat, Ginger. I have also seen some bay windows on fifth wheel RVs that are perfect for RVing with cats. And, I have even seen cat perches made specifically for RVs. Whether you buy one or build one, make the extra effort to create a perch for your cat. Just don’t make one over the bed or you will be sorry. (We did that and the cats kept jumping on us in the middle of the night!)
Cat Toys Appropriate for an RV
Indoor cats in particular need a lot of toys to play with. If you're not going to let them roam around the RV park, then you have to give your cats something to do. Different cats like different types of toys so make sure you experiment with different ones until you find one that your cat loves. Then, be sure to take the time each day to play with them. Whenever I think of cat toys, I will never forget the sight of Jack on the floor, surrounded by five cats in a circle each one waiting for their turn at the fishing pole toy. He would tantalize each cat one at a time with the feathered toy. It amazed me that they took turns and would never try to steal it away from the other cats.
If you make the effort to supply your RV cats with all of the items we have discussed, you will be well on your way to having a healthy, happy indoor cat for your next RV trip.
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