How do you people do it? Having a pet cat

Van Living Forum

Help Support Van Living Forum:

Anon

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
106
Reaction score
45
I've seen a youtube video series by a lady called RachelInRealLife and from what I know, she has a pet cat while living in a vehicle.

Not I'm not gonna lie and pretend that I watched over 4+ hours of her content to figure out how she does it or gets by or what her life situation is, but...Has anyone ever actually lived out of a van or SUV or truck like he is and keep a pet cat?

Like, how the fing heck does that even work? You can't leave the cat inside without airconditioning or something because it'll die from heat or cold or something. And then it'll possibly spray everything down and, ugh...I once tried cleaning out my car one day at my father's place and two of our cats just had a ball playing around and getting into every nook and cranny they could find in there. By the time I was done, I noticed after I left that my car smelled like cat piss now...
 

Cammalu

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 14, 2015
Messages
4,564
Reaction score
116
I have three cats but in a larger rig. They spend their days hunting mice and digging and are herded back in the afternoon.
 

jacqueg

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2017
Messages
1,554
Reaction score
172
Location
Seattle, approximately
When I first started out in van life, I had my old cat with me. She was just fine, because she was at that stage in a cat's life when it sleeps most of the day. She was a bit restless at first, especially at night, but because I was sleeping there too, it didn't take her long to settle down.

The biggest problems I had were

1) litter box - I had to use the whisk broom several times a day - I didn't have room for a totally enclosed box, and I knew she didn't like those anyway

2) I couldn't leave her alone in the car when it much over 70, unless I was hooked up to shore power and could run a fan.

Those were not huge problems, and I wish like crazy that I still had them.
 

BelgianPup

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2019
Messages
348
Reaction score
105
I lived in a regular Ford van with a cat for 7 months. The first thing I did was train her to walk on a harness and leash. NOT a collar -- they are not secure.

Being used to a leash, I could tether her inside and let her jump in and out the sliding door. DO NOT do this with other doors and windows open, or she can hang herself.

If I do this again, I will carry along a roll of welded wire fencing (2x4" mesh) with multiple leash clips or carabineer spring clips for helping to keep cat in or dogs (etc) away.

Cats must be spayed or neutered. This is an absolute, male or female. Most spayed/neutered cats won't spray, but this isn't 100%.

Don't use a regular 6" deep litter box, get one of those clear plastic storage boxes that are 8 or 10" deep. These prevent litter being kicked out, and urine from going over the edge.

Cats must be vaccinated, including for rabies. Get cat microchipped, register it, and put ID and rabies tag on the harness. If you get the cat chipped with HomeAgain, you DO NOT have to re-register the cat every year, like they want you to think. Check with any chip company you use. Keep your contact info updated, and also your vet.

If you're going to move the van, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHERE THE CAT IS! Or you may run over her, or drag her, or leave her behind. Keep a note on your steering wheel: WHERE'S THE CAT?

When driving, mine rode in her cage, not loose. If you have an accident or get a broken window, cat is gone.

Cats aren't dogs, and if you expect them to act the same, you and the cat will both be sorry. In 70 years, I've had exactly ONE cat that usually came when I called him.

Keep some decent photos with you, just in case.
 
Last edited:

NomadCat

Active member
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2018
Messages
37
Reaction score
54
Location
Sacramento, CA
Hi Gary,
I’ve had my cat living with me in my Ford E150 van for four years now, and we’re both happy. My cat is indoor outdoor; I don’t let her out without a harness and leash if we’re in unfamiliar territory, but I mostly orbit between about 6 locations, and she knows those areas. If I’m in any one of those areas (one is the parking lot at my workplace), I open her cat door and she can come in and out according to her needs. The cat door is cut into the step on the side of the van, and I’ve attached a step under it; she comes through the hole like a seal though a hole in the ice. The hole is closed by a rigid foam piece at night or when we are driving. She wears an Apple AirTag on her collar which assists me in locating her when I return to the van. Also, I reward her with a small food treat every time she rejoins me at the van, which means that she generally shows up in a timely manner. The van is insulated, and has a ceiling vent with a temperature activated fan, so that it is never hotter inside than outside. If it’s 100 degrees outside, it will be about 100 degrees inside; not comfortable, but not life threatening for either of us. Cats don’t usually spray unless they are engaged in a territory war, so a single cat usually won’t spray in their “nest space”. Lastly, I feed my cat a veterinary approved raw diet (from Darwins.com) which is what cats were designed to eat; therefore her litter box doesn’t smell overmuch. She prefers to eliminate outside if conditions permit, anyway. A small hand vac is very useful for any stray litter, cat hair, or miscellaneous dirt that gets on my small floor.
 

scaredycat72

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2021
Messages
251
Reaction score
321
From what I've seen, they get use to the smell, ignore the hair, and since cats can't complain, they think the cat is happy because they're happy.

People seem to be in deep denial. I've seen 3 cats kept in a minivan. 1 cat and 2 dogs kept in a car. 8 cats kept in an RV. 5 dogs kept in a car. The list goes on. Every single person swore the animals were happy. They seriously have the mindset of animal hoarders. There was nothing I could do so I went about my business.
 

cruisin10

Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Messages
10
Reaction score
3
Location
S.OR/N.CA, on the coast
Our cat or maybe I should say her humans enjoy traveling in the car and rv. She was with us in the car or rv from 6 weeks of age on and considers the rv or car her home away from home. If anxious or threatened she wants in and hops up on the hood and paws at the window and meows for attention.
She is the only cat in our lives that seems to enjoy travel, vehicles, and new places, all others, 2 of them with one passing at 23 years did not like vehicles.
 

abnorm

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 8, 2016
Messages
1,539
Reaction score
251
From what I've seen, they get use to the smell, ignore the hair, and since cats can't complain, they think the cat is happy because they're happy.

People seem to be in deep denial. I've seen 3 cats kept in a minivan. 1 cat and 2 dogs kept in a car. 8 cats kept in an RV. 5 dogs kept in a car. The list goes on. Every single person swore the animals were happy. They seriously have the mindset of animal hoarders. There was nothing I could do so I went about my business.
WELL NOW........Aren't you special.......(That's a Southern compliment)

Two HAPPY Cats and the Doug
 

BelgianPup

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2019
Messages
348
Reaction score
105
From what I've seen, they get use to the smell, ignore the hair, and since cats can't complain, they think the cat is happy because they're happy.

People seem to be in deep denial. I've seen 3 cats kept in a minivan. 1 cat and 2 dogs kept in a car. 8 cats kept in an RV. 5 dogs kept in a car. The list goes on. Every single person swore the animals were happy. They seriously have the mindset of animal hoarders. There was nothing I could do so I went about my business.
It must be really nice to know everything about everything, all the time and under all conditions. Congratulations.
 

rruff

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 9, 2019
Messages
450
Reaction score
343
I have three cats but in a larger rig. They spend their days hunting mice and digging and are herded back in the afternoon.
(y) Good life for a cat...

I gave my buddy (aka The Monster) up to another family a few months ago. :( I didn't think he'd enjoy traveling with me. He goes total apeshit in a moving car, hates being couped up, and I thought the odds were good he'd get eaten by a coyote in the places I like to camp.
 

NomadCat

Active member
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2018
Messages
37
Reaction score
54
Location
Sacramento, CA
I gave my buddy (aka The Monster) up to another family a few months ago. :( I didn't think he'd enjoy traveling with me. He goes total apeshit in a moving car, hates being couped up, and I thought the odds were good he'd get eaten by a coyote in the places I like to camp.
Sounds like a wise decision that took the needs of the individual animal into account. Not all animals will enjoy vanlife. Not so different from humans! 😛
 

rruff

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 9, 2019
Messages
450
Reaction score
343
Not so different from humans! 😛
I had to give my wife away, also! Actually she left... best for both of us, though...

I know some cats travel well, but do you usually need to acclimate them when they are young? The cats I've known went crazy in a moving vehicle and they were very uncomfortable in new places.
 

bebewanna

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2021
Messages
58
Reaction score
77
I am in a Grand Caravan with 6 cats, a 90 lb Pitbull and a 16 yr old blue heeler.
They proved to be far more flexible than I expected.
I am camped where they can just run loose, but they mostly sleep inside. I load them up when I need to shop, etc.
Both places we camp they are fine, but we are remote and nobody else around for miles. If someone pulls in, they scatter but are right back.
We lived in the woods to begin with.

Only time I needed a litter box was when we were next to Hwy 101 because of the storm. In 10 months few accidents.

It was this or they went to shelters... We are 10 months into this and no tragedy yet. No its not easy but what can you do.

2022-02-27 12.27.25.jpg
 

NomadCat

Active member
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2018
Messages
37
Reaction score
54
Location
Sacramento, CA
I know some cats travel well, but do you usually need to acclimate them when they are young? The cats I've known went crazy in a moving vehicle and they were very uncomfortable in new places.
My cat used to be very unhappy in a moving vehicle, but in those days the only time she was in a car was on the way to the vet. Basically, I introduced her to the van while it was parked in one place for several months (while I was building it out). We both lived in it, and she accepted it as her home. Then I started driving it a little with her inside; she was nervous at first but not crazy. Then she got all the way used to it…. 🙂. She was about 5 years old when I built the van.
 

LeftTown

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
91
Reaction score
71
Location
USA
My cat used to be very unhappy in a moving vehicle, but in those days the only time she was in a car was on the way to the vet.

That was Pinky's situation. She was also elderly, had been diagnosed with feline leukemia, and was in remission. Of course I left her with relatives.

Didn't do a darned bit of good because Annie wandered in out of the desert.

Once we were housed up again, I went to visit Pinky and they weren't treating her right. I brought her home, then we lost that place and crossed the country with both of them.

Pinky loved it.

I have tried very hard not to have cats, but it never works out. The current feline wears a kitty holster 24/7, is more likely to be on a tie down than in a crate, and tends to get the comment, "That dog is a cat!" when I take her out hiking with the pooches.

She can trot along at a merry pace for a mile or two, but you don't walk a cat on a leash the same way you walk a dog. The leash is there to keep the cat safe and the "staff" follow the cat.

The only tricky part was training the dogs.

She wasn't happy about lockdown. She was even less happy when the landlord locked us out with no warning, but we got through three months in a 30 year old Honda Accord. She's loving the new-to-us Grand Caravan.

Her covered litterbox takes up a lot of real estate and is 100% worth it. You can just cut a hole in the top of a 20 gallon storage tub.

I don't skimp on litter either. She likes Dr. Elsey's but we were just introduced to oko cat, which is pine pellets that actually clump.

The worst thing about traveling with cats is the stigma of "crazy cat lady/man" in my experience. They're adaptable and much easier and less expensive than most dogs.
 

Ripper238

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
258
Reaction score
174
Location
NE
I don't. Whish I could but they will eventually get sick and die.

Cats are easy however so probably the best travel option.
 

rruff

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 9, 2019
Messages
450
Reaction score
343
The worst thing about traveling with cats is the stigma of "crazy cat lady/man" in my experience. They're adaptable and much easier and less expensive than most dogs.
I'd never thought I'd like having a cat until I had one. Their personalities vary a bit, but the two I've had were very affectionate when they wanted to be, and the rest of the time they just did their thing. They could come and go as they pleased, didn't have to clean up after them or take them for walks, just put out food and water. Dogs take a lot more attention, training, and work. They also tend to make a lot of noise. Seems like the thing people love about dogs is the devotion and loyalty; always glad to see you... always eager to please.
 
Top