My favourite things are my bicycle, my husband and my cat, in no particular order. When we were working out how to live in a motorhome full time, we had to consider how to keep Basil with us and how to keep him happy.
The first thing I should say is that if he had showed signs of stress over a prolonged period of time, we would have changed our plans and settled back down. We love him and we definitely didn’t want to upset him.
That said: we prepped him from kittenhood. He spent a lot of time in a harness, getting used to the feel of it. We took him in the car on short journeys, which he absolutely hated. We plied him with attention and treats at all times.
We have been motorhoming with Baz full time for around three months now. I am going to lay out how we trained him to travel in the van, what we do about litter, and how we go about letting him out for exercise.
So: Basil was taken on journeys, but he hated them. We quickly realised it was the travel box that he hated above all else. He likes to sit and watch the scenery go past sometimes, and at other times he just cuddles down into the blankets and snooze the trip away. As with most cats, he adores textures, so we often put a damp towel down for him to sit on.
As soon as we arrive we give him a good few minutes of love and affection, as well as lots of treats. We also chat to him along the way, especially if he meows at us. I constantly sing songs to him throughout the day anyway, and we know that as long as he can hear us chatting it’s comforting to him.
His litter box is a fancy one with a lid and perspex flap. It is pretty hilarious to watch him go in the box to use the loo. We have taken the door off one of the cupboards and wedged this in to keep it out of the way, and the smell is contained pretty well by the lid. We obviously clean the box every day, but it is handy to not have to get up in the middle of the night if the cat decides to do a poo.
Now, Baz was always an outdoor cat at home in Lewis. He spent six months indoors when he went to stay with friends in London. We do like to be able to let him out, but as long as he gets out fairly regularly we think he is fine to spend a few days in the van at a time. I tried taking him out on a harness at our favourite campsite, but he slipped out in point eight of a second. There was nothing I could do except keep my fingers crossed that he would come back.
And come back he did! And has done again and again.
If we need to move urgently, we do not let him out. If we know we’re going to be moving around 5pm, we do not let him out. If we are in a built up area, we do not let him out. We never put his food outside, so he knows he must come indoors if he wants to eat. He has his own dedicated area with toys and smells that are all about him, so when he has slipped out in the past we have been able to lure him back using his litter box and soft furnishings.
Basil is an adventure cat. He likes exploring and he is confident in new places. He likes people but not immediately, so we are not too worried about him going to live with someone else by accident. He is unlikely to try and cross a busy road, having never been near one. The biggest worry I have is about rural type roads, where cars go very fast with little thought to the animals that might be crossing or keeping warm on the asphalt.
We have recently experimented with a GPS collar. This comes after a very stressful weekend when we hadn’t seen him for days. I did quite a lot of research before choosing one and popped it on Baz last Monday. He was meant to be going to my friend’s house to spend a few nights while I went to work. I received a very upset text on the Tuesday morning telling me that Basil had gotten out and that she had the collar… which he had wriggled out of and left on a nearby bush.
My cat has never kept a collar on, so I don’t know what I was thinking with this attempt. If your cat is happier in these then this might be a good way of giving yourself some reassurance.
So travelling in a motorhome with a cat is totally do-able! Just be sure to know your cat and know whether they are bonded to you or to their home. The former is ideal, and the latter just means you will have more time building up their confidence and trust of the moving home.