Living the Full-Time RV Life With Cats
Has it always been your dream to live a nomadic lifestyle that will take you to new places and new experiences every day? Well, with an RV, you can join the many people who are already living on the road full-time.
But what if you have cats? Can you take them with you? When we found Life Among Pines on Instagram, we couldn’t resist chatting with them to learn about how they’ve managed to transition to life in an RV with their cats and dogs.
First off, can you describe your pets for our readers?
Sam Binger: We travel full-time with five pets: two cats and three dogs. Our cats are 4-year-old littermates, Anna and Elsa. Anna is a calico, and Elsa is a gray and white kitty.
What enticed you to live on the road full-time?
Sam Binger: We were motivated to live on the road because of the prospect of full-time travel. With an RV, we could live in a comfortable home with our pets, while still being on the move.
In our college days, we were interested in the idea of being fully nomadic and living out of backpacks. However, we eventually realized that this would’ve been stressful on our pets, and international travel with them also would’ve proved difficult.
This led to our idea to travel via RV, where we’d all live together in a tiny home, while keeping our lifestyle of constant travel. We have all of our things with us everywhere we go, and we work out of our RV.
In my opinion, this is one of the most comfortable forms of travel. We’ve been living in our RV full-time for just over a year-and-a-half.
Did you jump right into full-time RV life, or did you gradually transition?
Sam Binger: We took one long trip about six hours away when we initially purchased our motorhome. Six months later, we hit the road full-time. I guess you could say we mostly jumped right in.
Did you have any concerns about taking the pets with you?
Sam Binger: We did quite a bit of research on road life before we began, but we were never really worried about how the pets would do. All of our pets were fairly young, and we knew they’d be adaptable. We thought the cats might need a few weeks to become accustomed, but they were pretty comfortable with the RV within a day or two.
Our only real concern was with the prospect of one of them getting lost and not knowing where to come home to. However, we’re extremely careful when outside with the dogs, and I’m happy to report that none of our pets have ever been lost. However, they’re all microchipped and armed with two forms of ID tags, just in case the worst were to happen.
Do your cats ever go outside?
Sam Binger: The cats are indoor-only. We initially thought they may enjoy venturing outside once in awhile, but they haven’t shown much interest and seem to prefer being indoors.
We keep them from running out by training them to stay away from the open door. This sort of just happened over time, as we’d nudge them away from the door when we were about to open it. From there, they got into the habit of moving away from the door when we’re coming in and out. They aren’t escape artists, so I think their personalities have made it easier on us.
Would you say it’s a good idea to introduce an older cat to traveling in an RV?
Sam Binger: I think that our cats’ young age when we moved into the RV definitely factored into their easy transition. At the time, they were only about 2 years old, and our dogs were all under 3 years old as well.
Experts say that younger animals are more easily adaptable, but I think a cat of any age could eventually transition to RV life. It could just take a bit longer for an older cat to adapt and become totally comfortable.
Was it a stressful transition for your cats when they went into your RV for the first time?
Sam Binger: Our cats’ first real experience with the RV was pretty much just moving in. To prepare them, we brought them out to the RV a few times for a couple of hours so they could begin to familiarize themselves. We made sure to have all of their favorite toys and treats easily accessible, along with plenty of places for them to sleep and hang out.
We’d moved with them from an apartment to a house, and driven with them before, so we knew that they were generally relaxed. But their first time being in the rig while driving was the day we pulled out of our hometown. They were a bit stressed by the moving vehicle for the first day or two, but they quickly became totally at ease.
Do your cats ever get stressed now?
Sam Binger: After about a few weeks, the cats were pretty comfortable with RV living, but after maybe two or three months, they’d completely settled into a routine. At this point, I think they’ve just accepted and realized that the RV is home, and they treat it just like any other home we’ve had.
I did a lot of research about RV cats when we first started, and what I mostly read was that they’d be a little stressed in the beginning (as cats typically are with any given change), but they’d eventually come around.
It helps to establish places for them to go while riding. Our cats travel in their bed and under the passenger seat. When they hear the engine start, they head right to their bed, and they stay there until we’re done driving. Occasionally, they get up to use their litter box or drink water, but seem most comfortable staying put while we’re in motion.
How do you keep your cats healthy on the road?
Sam Binger: Because our cats are fully indoors, parasites aren’t much of a worry. Our dogs wear flea and tick collars and take heartworm medicine to keep them parasite-free because they do go outside quite a bit. We keep the kitties healthy the same way we did in our house: by feeding them a healthy diet, keeping their vaccinations up-to-date, and giving them plenty of exercise throughout the day.
How do you ensure you always have enough supplies, food, etc. on hand to keep your cats happy and healthy?
Sam Binger: We travel with about a month’s supply of cat food and litter to ensure that we always have enough. We’re rarely in remote areas for more than two weeks, and we have yet to completely run out of pet food with nowhere to buy it. Planning ahead definitely helps.
How do you handle emergencies or the need for vet visits?
Sam Binger: So far, we haven’t had any emergencies with our pets, and I hope to keep it that way. We do usually know the nearest emergency vet, just in case. But, so far, everyone has been happy and healthy in our time spent on the road.
For vet visits, our pets have Banfield Pet Hospital plans. They have several locations in almost every city, so we plan ahead to ensure we’ll be near a Banfield when our pets are in need of vaccines, check-ups, or other preventive care.
What advice can you give to pet parents who want to take their cats in an RV for a vacation, or even for full-time life on the road, but are reluctant or scared?
Sam Binger: Just try it out! If you’re worried about your cat’s reaction to being in a moving vehicle, you can always kennel them while driving. Chances are, they’ve been in a car before, so it wouldn’t be completely new to them.
Only you know your cat best, so you know what they can tolerate. Some cats may hate it, but I have many friends who also travel with their cats and have found that they really seem to enjoy the lifestyle. You’ll never know unless you try, even if only for a shorter vacation.
Keep in mind that RVs are set up like regular homes, just on a smaller scale. Moving into an RV is much like moving into a new house with your pet. They’ll be unsure at first, but they’ll eventually come around. Anything you do with your pet at your house or apartment can be done with them in an RV. Try not to overthink it, and just go for a test drive if you’re really unsure.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t already discussed?
Sam Binger: This lifestyle can be beneficial to both humans and animals. Our pets are with us more often than they were when we worked full-time, which is obviously better for them. The kitties get to watch wildlife right outside on a daily basis, and they seem to enjoy seeing new landscapes all the time. Anyone can reach out to us if they have any questions regarding road life with pets: @lifeamongpines on all social media channels.
Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. An advocate for better treatment of all animals, she enjoys producing content that educates others, helps them understand animals better, and inspires them to help, whether that means volunteering at a shelter, fostering strays, or simply giving their own pets a safe and happy home to live in.
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