Chewie & Pretty – Cats and Van Life

Our cats have been a part of our little family for 4 years now. There were only 2 months old when we brought them home and it was love at first cuddle!

Chewie

Chewie, a male white tabby cat, came first – a tiny little thing, very ‘meowyand demanding, always wanting company and attention, no matter what.

Today, he’s your typical spoiled teddybear scaredy-cat, who loves feathers, cuddles and long naps. He is the quieter of the two.

Pretty

‘Pretty’, a female tortoiseshell cat, was brought home 2 weeks later. She kept her cool and her distance from everyone in the beginning but eventually surrendered to her new loving family.

Today, she is the challenging one, always wanting to go out and explore, preferably on her own, no humans to cramp her style.

She loves kneading on woolly blankies, chasing wiggly strings and birds.

Do you also have fur balls that you want to take on the road?

It’s tricky to get them used to a new home, let alone a mobile home, full of strange noises and new smells, completely different from everything they know since they were babies…

Dogs are always up to an adventure, right? Cats prefer familiar places and don’t care much for leaving their domain.

1.

Start walking your cats on a lead. We had a back door to a very quiet alley, rarely used by cars or even people. So, we bought some leads, put them on our kitties, checked if it was safe outside and opened the door.

At first, they were tentative and just stayed there, taking him the view and the smells. Pretty was the first to step outside, of course. It took much longer for Chewie to do the same. He would just freeze, lay down where he was and refuse to walk. We didn’t push him.

Regardless, you can always count on cat’s curiosity and bravery – they  are hunters and explorers and so, eventually, they got used to going outside. They become such fans of the walkies that every time they heard us touching the leads, they would run to the door and meow to hurry us up.

2.

Chewie wouldn’t leave his carrier box, on his first tour of the motorhome

Introduce them to your mobile home gradually. As soon as you buy your van/motorhome, start taking your cats inside it:

  • Let them sniff around the place,
  • Allow them to discover every crevice, every shelf, every hole,
  • Encourage them to jump on all surfaces, while you keep an eye,
  • Take a favorite toy and play around with them there,
  • Spend the night,
  • Bring them home and repeat whenever possible.
‘What’s with all these people outside?’

3.

Drive them around the block – very short rides in the beginning. The engine noise and the shaking of the vehicle while moving was a great source of distress for our cats. It took them a long time to accept it as part of their new home. A lot of crying and hyperventilating going on and I’m not just talking about the cats… lol

4.

Be patient. It will be frustrating and complicated to begin with. If you understand this is a temporary learning period, it won’t be as hard. In the end, our cats got used to all of these new things and would travel around sleeping on the dashboard, jumping from the top bed to tables and seats, etc… They’ll be just fine!

5.

Litter box. Ours didn’t fit in the van’s small toilet, so we kept it under one of the tiny lounge seats. Since your new home will ‘vibrate’ a lot, make sure you secure the litter tray wherever you put it, or you’ll have pebbles flying all over the place.

We also had to upgrade the cat litter and choose an ultra-absorbent one with great odor control. You are now living in a very small space and you don’t want it to smell like cat pee or poo, do you?

We tested a few and ended picking out CATSAN Hygiene Cat Litter, as this was the one that worked better for us.

6.

Cat bed.  Along the years we bought a few lovely and expensive cat beds, but we soon found out cats choose their own spot, regardless of what you want them to use. So, all we took in the motorhome were their favorite blankets and old sleeping pillows/beds. When they didn’t sleep on our bed, they would look for their own bedding and their recognizable scent.

7.

Don’t forget about play time. Offer your fur babies some dedicated playtime. Everything goes…Wiggly strings and bits of wool, bouncy balls, feathers, hands moving under the duvets… whatever they may enjoy!

8.

Take your cats out for a daily walk. For their sanity and yours, for some reflection and relaxation time, do it every day. 

9.

Kitty microchip, ID tags & pet passports. It is mandatory to microchip your pet and I also advise you to get them cat collars with ID tags (w/ your contact number). If your pet ever gets lost, these are sure ways for the people who find them to return them to you.

If you are thinking of travelling abroad, you will also need a pet passport (pet info, vaccinations, etc). To come into the UK, for example, you will have to present your pets’ passports and have them scanned for a microchip. If you don’t have these, you will not be allowed to cross the border. You can find more information about this here.

Enjoy the road with your pets and marvel at the way they look at the World!

You can also watch our youtube episode on this subject here!

If you have other tips or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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