Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RV catastrophe

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been considering selling our home, buying a motor home and traveling full-time. There are several things about that lifestyle that my wife and I do not agree on. The biggest obstacle is our 14 year old cat. She wants to take the cat and I think that's a bad idea. I have taken that cat in the car to the vet on occasion and he freaks out and howls during the whole trip. I can picture us traveling throughout North America with a howling cat screeching in my ear. Can you give us some direction to common ground on this issue. Thanks in advance.
--Categorically Against Traveling with Felix
Dear Cat:
If Felix is your biggest obstacle, I think you're well on your way to forever together along North America's Blue Highways. A cat is an easy pet to travel with. Steinbeck preferred a standard Poodle and wrote a best-selling book about his dog peeing on every bush in America. I can't picture John rambling around in the morning with a rubber glove picking up Charlie scat, but who knows. Maybe his editor just cut those passages. Least Heat-Moon did the same thing without a pet but missed all the love and adoration that beams from furry companions who give even when we don't deserve it.
I'm not saying a traveling pet does not come without some maintenance. We travel with two cats. There is the litter to deal with. They like to steal themselves into tight places and hide. Our checklist includes checking for cats above the slides before deploying them. That could be a real catastrophe. We have had them bail out in an area cordoned off as a grizzly bluff charge area in Alaska and jump out in New Mexico and run across the border to Mexico. Both times my wife sent me to find them. They have escaped a couple times in Glacier and Rocky Mountain NP among hundreds of other rigs and they eventually figured out which one was theirs and returned home in the middle of the night crying at the roof vent. But those events are few and far between. We take precautions so our cats do not get out, both for their protection and local wildlife. We have suction cup bird feeders that keep the cats continually entertained. They have seen more birds around North America than most Life List tracking birders. But after 30+ years we do have some stories to tell.
The downside is we have friends allergic to cats and it limits their visitations to our rig.
A trip to the vet is a bit different than traveling in a home on wheels. Felix will eventually become adapted to his new home and find his comfort zone. We have one that hides under the couch as soon as she notices me going for the driver's seat. The other one sits on the dashboard and helps me navigate.
I can't imagine you actually expect your wife to give up a cat you've had for 14 years. The only difference between my child and my cat is that the cat listens to me and doesn't talk back. Take Felix the "wonderful, wonderful cat" with you, and move on to solve the next issue you have.
Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink



The Good Luck Duck said...

We travel with six (6) cats, five of them seniors who hated car rides. Now, when the engine starts, the oldies head for the bedroom where they sleep on our bed or in cat beds on the floor.

It can work. Your cat will figure something out.

The Good Luck Duck

Edie Anderson said...

Train Your CAT! A spray bottle of water is all you need to NEVER have the cat dash through the open door again.

We traveled with our cat for years, he never left the fifth wheel after just a bit of "training" with a spray of water each time he got near the door.

He was always carried to and from the RV. He was NEVER allowed to go through the door, of his own accord, that would be giving him mixed messages.

Anonymous said...

And as for the litter- we have three cats that we're hoping to take on the road with us. Three cats= LOTS of litter and "scoopage". We've been doing a lot of research on how to train cats to use the "people potty" and give up the litterbox. So far, it seems to be working, and we'll be able to do away with all those bags of cat litter once and for all!

Anonymous said...

I've been traveling with my two buddies, Flash & Gordon for 7 years now and they very much enjoy the experience. They are indoor cats and are good about not wanting to go out.

Anonymous said...

Maybe cats are different than dogs but our mild mannered 10yo Lab hated the car rides. We were encouraged that once in the motorhome and down the road he would settle. Wrong. He shivered and whined every minute on the road and would only stop when the engine stopped. Then he was right at home again. We went this route for a year before we gave up and gave him to our much delighted grand-daughter. We did try anxiety meds from the vet, homeopathics, and calmers from the pet store. Nothing worked. Some animals are not designed to travel.

Marley Gibson said...

We live and travel full time with our two cats, Madison and Boo. We got them at 7 weeks old so we could "raise" them in the RV and on the road. They are the best traveling companions ever, never complaining, adjusting to life on the road, riding on the dashboard, and the occasional relative's home or hotel room. The best thing to do for an older cat is familiarity. Riding in an RV isn't like riding to the vet. Make sure there's something familiar to them...their favorite bed, a blanket, toys, their food bowl. As long as there are "constants" they can identify, they'll be fine. And believe me...their favorite spot will be in laying in the sunshine on the dash!

Anonymous said...

Just had to reply reagarding the Lab. Our 10 year old (at the time)lab was the same way. Ww left her at my sister's during long trips and took her on some short trips. One day, I put her brand new big, fluffy pet bed in and she piled right on and never had an issue again. She spent the following summer traveling with us without a problem.

Sunny One said...

My Buster Cat was a cryer. He cried all the way from Lansing to Detroit the day my sister brought him to me. Some fourteen years later, we decided to take him on an RV trip, despite his autophobia, as he was a sick kitty and not expected to make it. I brought him in with me while I cleaned and made ready for the trip. I left him in there while I went back and forth to the house. I did put his favorite blanket on the couch. Leaving on the trip, Buster was a bit nervous at first, but he soon settled on his blanket on the couch. From then on, the RV was Buster's. He paraded along the back of the couch and on the counter, king of the windows, and he slept with us in our bed. We took him on several other trips before he died two years later. Traveling with a loved pet is a wonderful experience.

mogul264 said...

Tried to take our cat on a trip. As we would be on the road for over a month, we couldn't bear to leave him in a cage at a facility, and none of our family was available to 'cat'sit, so we took him with us. He paced, growled, and yowled the entire first day. That night, in a rural RV camp, he was between my legs when I went outside, and vanished. We searched most of the night. Next morning, still gone. We never saw him again. We hope he survived, as he preferred the outside most of his life, and regularly caught birds and rodents.

DangRV said...

I have been traveling with my cat for 6 years and she likes it well enough. She really likes the private condo I made for her under the couch. I pulled back the upholstery and had a large round hole cut into the removable board on the front that covers the storage area underneath the couch. Then I cut the upholstery and folded it over the edges of the hole. She loves to ride in there and goes in there anytime I have company or she wants to be alone.

Anonymous said...

We always travel with our cat Walker, our 8 year old Ragdoll.
When we are packing up, if he wants to ride in the truck, he sits by the door. If he want to stay in the trailer he lounges on the bed and won't get off

Bill the Web Guy said...

We have a cat who spends most of the day checking his Territory and then comes in at night to eat and stay warm. We are going on our first cross country trip from CA to NY by way of the northern route. We will be gone about 6 weeks...we would like to take him. Can you put a halter on a cat and then take them out for a walk? I think he will get used to travel since he could settle in on the bed in back but I worry that he would get out and get eaten or worse. He know how to use litter so that is not a problem. Anyones thoughts are welcome

Anonymous said...

We also traveled with a cat who initially had to be given baby Dramamine. Over the course of a few months she go used to riding.

For those who do travel with pets, even "housebound" ones who never go outside... Micro-chipping has become very affordable. Micro-chip your pets!

Anonymous said...

I have had dogs and cats all of my life (68 years) and have traveled with dogs but not cats. The good thing about cats is that they can take care of themselfs if they are allowed outside normally. We always left our cats with a good source of fresh water and a very large feeder of dry food and they were much happier than traveling I'm sure, I know we because not having to deal with cats on the road. In addition, it is very presumptious to expect friends and family to be happy about you showing up with a dog or cat. That is a good way to have the welcome mat covered up!