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RV Living with Cats: Preparing the RV - Making the RV Safe for Kitty

How to RV Living with Cats: Preparing the RV - Making the RV Safe for Kitty

Keyword: RV Living, RV Living with Cats, RV Camping with Cats, RVing with Cats

Author: April-Dawn Smitley

Date: 25 July 2023

Publish Date: August 2023

 

The time has come. Wanderlust has taken hold. The call of the road echoes in your bones. It is time to go RVing!


But wait! What about kitty?


Whether it is one kitty or the 19 cats we traveled with, most of us don’t want to leave our beloved feline companions behind. But can it be done? Can cats really go Rving and everyone enjoy the experience?


Suspend your disbelief, your cats can be your companions. It doesn’t have to be a lonely trip for you. Bring your cats with you for lively adventures in RV Living with Cats.


The task of preparing to travel with your cats is not as massive as it seems. Let us encourage you – it can be done! RV Living with Cats is entirely possible. Before you embark on your adventure, here are some tips on making the RV safe for your cat to guide you as you venture out.

What is RV Living? RV Camping?

RV Living is defined as simply that – living in an RV whether for a few weeks or months or 24/7/365. RV Camping on the other hand is considered overnight to over-the-weekend trips.


While kitty can stay home for an overnight or even over-the-weekend, their companionship will be missed, even more so if they were to remain behind as you travel for a few weeks or months. If there is a safe, comfortable, and convenient way to include them in the journey, then let’s do it. Here’s how.

Orange cat and white cat with dark brown tiger markings sitting on RV dash with view of RV park.
Bond Flerkin and Annikin Einar in front dash window surveying the RV park scenery.

How to do RV Living/Camping with Cats – Preparing the RV

Cats are by nature curious and love to snoop in places you might not intuitively consider. There are many hidden depths of the RV that might be attractive to your cat for exploration but those are not places you want them disappearing into. Here are some locations to investigate.


Examine every cabinet and storage space.

RVs come with a vast array of storage spaces in the form of under-the-seat stash spots, cabinets, and around-the-outside lockers. Are the backs of these closed and sealed or are they open showing pipes and wires?


Nearly half of all the spaces we would need to have open, revealed a strange new world for the cats to crawl into. That might be alright at home where a cabinet is sealed off from any other area. However, on an RV to accommodate and leave accessible for maintenance the wires and pipes, cabinets are open through to the wall and areas between what you can touch and the exterior metal shell of the RV. Those crevices mean places for the cats to explore and disappear into with no way for you to recover them until they are ready to come out themselves.


The outside storage bays tend to be self-contained and therefore of little concern when considering readying the interior of the camper for RV Living with Cats. To be certain, do check the exterior compartments to verify they do not have any gaps through to the interior.

White cat with tiger blanket markings mid-stride stepping down next to the steering wheel.
Nonny Runar stepping down near the steering wheel.

Probe under the dash/steering wheel area.

Under the dash and steering wheel area is open to reveal the wires connecting your instrument panel, radio, sound system, GPS, etc. If kitty is scared, it could easily wriggle its way through those wires and under the dashboard.


Inspect the underside of the bathroom sink.

One avenue of exploration for kitty is the underside of the bathroom sink bowl.


The bathroom sink underside in our RV was open, allowing access to servicing the pipes for hot and cold water as well as the plunger for the sink. Annikin Einar, one of our one-year-old kittens, discovered that hole and proceeded to have an adventure running behind the shower and main bedroom. He stayed in there for about 18 hours, enjoying his escapade and quiet time.


In each of these areas, consider sealing off the openings or be especially aware of kitty trying to climb into the cabinet while you are scrounging about. Save yourself some trouble, headache, and heart-wrenching moments.


How to secure the openings.

Depending on your level of handyman-ness, there are a few different ways to sever kitty’s access to behind-the-scenes (better known as between the walls) yet still keeping them accessible for maintenance or repairs in the future.


Painter’s tape is a quick, easy, and affordable way to seal off the openings. The downside to using this easily removable tape is that once it is peeled off you may have to use more to reseal the area. Painters’ tape can be found most anywhere that sells paint or painting supplies. We purchased ours at Lowe's Home Improvement. There are several different levels of stickiness available; our choice was the green tape which tends to be the strongest stick of the colors/levels.


Cardboard cut to the size needed and plugged over the cavity would also work. The disadvantage of cardboard is the ease with which it might be pushed aside or crunched thus leaving the space exposed. It would be advisable to secure the cardboard in place with duct tape, painters tape, or even screws/nails. Also, if your kitty is inclined to push on the carboard or you are unsure about punching through it yourself, consider adding a couple layers of cardboard to strengthen the impact resistance. For good strong cardboard, Aldi grocery stores have great apple box and most of their produce boxes are hefty as well. The store allows people to take those boxes without cost to the customer.


Foam padding, Styrofoam blocks, or Styrofoam insulation boards are three more materials to use in closing gaps. The drawback to each of these is the possible mess from kitty scratching at it. If the area where you are using the foam padding or Styrofoam is located where kitty will be regularly (near the bathroom sink pedestal or the dashboard) explore covering the foam padding or Styrofoam with cloth (bath towel, old bed linens, picnic table cloth, etc.). The cloth may hinder shredding and block particles from littering the floor or kitty’s fur. Foam padding and Styrofoam blocks can be found at craft and fabric stores like JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels. The Styrofoam insulation boards are available at most home improvement stores.


Plywood or MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard) is the most complicated and time-consuming way to close off the access areas. The hurdle to using plywood or another wood board is that it will require tools and machines with which to conduct precise measurements and then cut the wood as well as a fair amount of time and skill to position. Be sure you have a way to place and remove the fitting to allow access to the pipes and wires. Plywood and its cousins all provide a level of security that none of the previously mentioned methods deliver. To find plywood, MDF, or any other wood boards visit a home improvement store or lumber yard.


Close the drawers.

Your cat will burrow into any cavity they can unearth, including climbing into and through to the back of the drawers. There is no way to seal off this area, so being attentive to the whereabouts of kitty while opening and closing drawers is necessary. Be sure to close rawers promptly after removing what you need.


Our Shadrach M’hail spent a length of time curled up behind a drawer that did not close and latch properly. While we were driving, Shadrach became alarmed and sought out the safety of behind that unlatched drawer. It took us some anxious minutes before we located him. Stop the possible tension by securing those drawers that may not latch properly as well as watch carefully while loading and unloading your drawers.


Mind the gap - the slide-out gaps.

Slide-out compartments provide essential extra space, especially with those practicing RV Living with Cats. Slide-outs are also known as: bump outs, slides, slide rooms, or tip outs. Ours is not a flush floor slide-out, meaning ours is built on a platform which moves out from the main body of the RV. The slide-out unit’s platform has a rubber seal/flap that insulates the cabin of the RV. The flap is only a few inches high, at most, and is not secured against the floor, thus allowing your cat to be creative in their toy hiding.

All black kitten and full tiger stripe kitten laying facing one another on floor near the slide-out rubber seal.  Black kitten is tucking her arm under the rubber seal.  Toys have now gone missing.  Sigh.
Kona Breeze and Breve Lidar checking out their toy hiding space.

Examine the seal to determine how much gap there is and note how long it stretches end to end. To aid in preventing kitty from stuffing toys under the seal, yet not deterring the slide-out from retracting, use draft catchers. Several draft catchers may be needed to span the length of the slide-outs.


Draft catchers are often available at stores that sell household products (Walmart, Lowes Home Improvement, etc.) or can be made in DIY fashion. A quick search online provided some interesting results for DIY draft catchers, such as this link: 17 Creative DIY Draft Stoppers.


Throughout your journey, you may need to continually reposition the draft catchers, but it is worth the slight trouble as fishing toys out from under the slide-out platform is not an easy task! One idea to anchor the draft catchers in place is to use strong Velcro strips/tape. Attach one side to the draft catcher and the other to the seal. When you are ready to retract the slide-out simply peel the draft catcher from the seal-mounted Velcro and store until your next camping site. Strong Velcro, also known as industrial Velcro in some shops, can be found at stores like JoAnn Fabrics, home improvement stores, or online shopping such as Amazon.


One quick note should kitty lose a toy under there and you are unable to retrieve it easily by bringing back into the cabin, attempt pushing it farther back in the space. We did that with a couple toys, inadvertently, and discovered the toys popped out the other side of the slide-out compartment on the outside of the RV.


Slide-out overhead ledge – Caution!

On the subject of slide-outs, when retracted into the cabin, slide-outs often have ledges overhead. If your cat is loose inside the cabin of the RV while traveling, be aware the overhead ledge is an ideal spot to be a tree-dweller. However, that perfect perch becomes a dangerous roost when you are parked and ready to extend the slide-out. Double-check that kitty has come down from their lookout and is safely away from the mechanisms that move the slide-out room. If you would rather kitty not even venture onto that ledge, this is opportunity to store the draft catchers that you will later be placing on the floor or use more foam padding to fill in the ledge’s space (being certain to remove before attempting to extend the slide-out).

Silver Egyptian Mau cat sitting at kitchen sink area, looking out the window, surrounded by miscellaneous kitchen food and other items.
Silver Sterling, the eldest of the clowder, looking out the window.

Scrutinize the windows and window screens.

At home, in your house, the windows and their screens are able to withstand your cat sitting there observing their domain. Windows and screens on the RV may not be as sturdy. Study the design of the window and screen and test the ease with which you can open and close them. Some RV windows require you to move the screen to then slide the window pane leaving a span of openness to the outside world while you are wrestling with the components. You need to know if your windows and screens are fashioned in this manner and if so how easily and quickly can you move the panels. Kitty does not need an invitation to leap through an open window, so executing the changeover with ease is required for peace of mind.


While the window is open, letting in all that fresh air and new smells for kitty, protect against an accidental opening of the screen. Here are some ways to fasten the window screen to prevent an escape route.


3M Command TM hooks on either side. One on the screen frame and one on the window frame/wall, with a bungee cord or small rope tying the two together.


Doll stick cut to size and put in the track bracing the window screen from movement.


3M Command products and doll sticks are available at big box stores or home improvement stores.


Be aware that some window screens are made with very light-weight screening. Your cat may be able to push through or slice open the screening. Verify the weight of your window screens. If you are unsure whether the screen will withstand your kitty’s enthusiasm, home improvement stores carry a pet resistant screen material and all the tools you would need to replace the screening. It does require some time, but it is not a terribly complicated procedure to change out the screen material.


A quick search online revealed a few videos on how to replace an RV window screen, such as this result: Remove, Replace and Re-install Window Screens in RV (replacement process begins at about the three minute mark) or this site for written directions and a video: RV Window Screen Replacement and Care.


Lock down under the seat.

The driver and passenger seats are not meant for storage spaces, but your cat may find them to be excellent locations for nap times or sneak attacks. When you are driving, this may not be ideal for you, though. In anticipation of the alternate use, barricade the underside of the seats with blankets or bed sheets, duffle bag or knapsack of clothes, rolled up towels, or any other cloth material you may use later but not while in transit.

Little white paws peeking out under a brown leather chair skirt with brown carpet lying under it all.
Beau Koa in his hidey hole under the passenger seat.

Closing

While preparing for RV Living with Cats, or even RV Camping with Cats, may seem a daunting task, with some thoughtful planning, both you and kitty will revel in the expedition. There is every reason why your cat should go with you – new sights, new sounds, new smells, experiences galore all within the adventure of RV Living (or Camping) with Cats.


So as you journey along, whether you meander or scurry, savor each moment of RV Living with Cats. Happy trails! (Oh, and don’t forget to share your photos with us.)


More to Come

While we are by no means experts at RV Living with Cats, we offer you ideas to contemplate to make your RV Living with Cats a bit easier. Not only that, we present you real-world solutions to create the best possible experience for you and your cat. This blog contains a portion of the avenues to establishing a safe and comfortable RV Living with Cats venture. Watch here on our blog (www.KeepUpCreations.com/blog) for the next in our series of RV Living/Camping with Cats full of more tips, tricks, and things we learned.




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