RV Life

Having pets in an RV

March 19, 2016

2 dogs + 2 cats + 2 humans + 188sqft = us

When people hear we have 4 pets in our 188sqft home, they kinda look at us funny. Head cocked to one side, they begin to examine us, looking for my hidden cat sweatshirt and Kevin for his pet hair covered jacket. Unfortunately, we let those people down. Most days at least, pet hair is a serious issue for our clothing, and I am still shopping for the perfect cat sweatshirt. We are so lucky that our fur babes all get along, but we also trained them to be this way and it definitely takes effort.

Kevin is the brains behind this, and I just follow along. So you are getting the watered down version of it, and I will make sure he reads this and approves before posting so I am not completely making this up. Below you will find our most helpful tips on having pets on the road:

Have patience.

I would be lying if I said having 4 pets in a small space was super easy. We understand that many people think we are nuts for doing this, but the main thing that gets us through is patience. Grizzly (our 5 month old kitty) likes to mess with everything. While we do have many toys, laser pointers, and places for him to hide, he is still a curious kitten who enjoys knocking over plant. Just last night, Kevin played laser pointer with him for 2 hours and he was still knocking pens off the table when we went to bed.

Two dogs and one dude at white sands national monument

Have treats.

Our oldest pup Luna has the loudest bark on the face of the earth. A German Shorthaired Pointer weighing in at a measly 40lbs, has the bark of a mastiff around 150lbs. It even tickles her ears when she does it. She likes to let us know when people are around with this large bark, which just scares the shit out of us every time. We have just begun feeding her treats when she first sees people walking or driving by our spot and she is slowly learning that people walking by is an okay normal thing. Treats also help introduce new fur babies to the family, Luna was not a fan of Grizzly at first, but when we sprinkled them both with treats when they were together now they are buddies (as much as Luna can be with a cat). They both bonded over treats.

German Shorthaired Pointer looking at the camera in a renovated camper

Luna looking at me (as I hold a treat), and grizzly trying to slink by.

Make kitty hideouts.

Our oldest cat, Nimbus, was the one who struggled with moving on the road full time the most. I would have loved to ask him what would make him more comfortable, but well, he is a cat. So, I had to guess. We had a small open storage spot above our couch that turned into the cat nook! For the first month, Grizzly couldn’t get up there so it was all Nimbus. He loved it. *note loved* Now Griz can get up there (see first pic on this post) and Nimbus isn’t usually pleased about it. That sucked for him for a little bit, then Nimbus realized our bed was usually empty all day long. Now his spot is on our bed most of the day unless he wants love when he comes and stands on us and rubs against us. He still resists getting into the kennel before long road trips, but once he’s in there, he is sleepy and quiet. We are hoping as Grizzly gets older he will get less annoying and Nimby will be happy. Though most days we think he is messing with us because he really enjoys enticing the kitten. Blah, who knows.

A cat hanging out in a stylish RV

Have pet kennels.

We have two kennels. One for the kitties and one for the doggies. Both mainly for traveling, yes they travel in the truck with us in their respective kennels. It’s safest that way. BUT another huge thing we have learned is for some reason our bed feels a lot smaller in the RV then it did in our large apt and it is the same mattress! So we have been kenneling our dogs at night (ok, not everrrrry night), which is a new thing for us. Our quality of sleep is so much better, and we actually get to snuggle which is a new thing fur us also (see what I did there). The kitties may sleep with us for a bit, but usually prefer other places in our RV.

Kitten on top of older cat inside kennel.

Make time to exercise pets.

Boondocking has been amazing for our little family. One of our dogs lives to run. Luna is that one, and when I say she “lives” to run, I mean it. She could sprint constantly for 4 hours and still be ready for more. Yea, German Shorthaired Pointers need exercise, if you didn’t know. So while we have been parked essentially in the middle of nowhere, we have been able to let the girls run. Foxey tries to keep up, but she usually stays near us while Luna goes out and hunts all the critters. Luckily, she is a scardy cat when it comes to actual dangerous critters, she only points birds, rabbits, squirrels, and critters much smaller than she is. A tired dog is a happy owner.

Our two dogs, Luna and Foxey

Have an angel pet.

Notice how our other dog Foxey has not come up at all? She is our angel baby. She is a sweet little golden doodle with the best personality and a little bit of sauce. While she may hump our cats, which seems oddly unproductive, she is our 25 lb happy-go-lucky pup. If she is with us, she is happy.


Have a plan.

Last but probably the most important is to have a plan. For what you ask? Everything. When will you be around pet stores for the next couple weeks, are you running low on food? Check out your weather for the week and plan to leave the camper on a colder day. I won’t say that I don’t get nervous every time we leave the pets, because I do, but having the peace of mind about the heat keeps me sane. While we are on the road we try to stay in the 55-75 range for weather, which is easy enough. When you can’t escape the heat but want a nice day out? Bring them to a pet sitter. Even the hot days that you spend with your pet? Spray them down with water, and make sure they have plenty to drink. This is easy stuff, I am sure if you own a pet you know these things!

Spraying our dog with some water to help her cool off in our camper.

Truth is, all of this is the same as having a pet in a apartment or home! Just takes a bit of effort and love to keep your babies happy and healthy!

We love you!

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  • Reply Rachael March 22, 2016 at 9:34 am

    This post is brilliantly useful, thank you so much for posting! My dream is to buy myself a VW camper and travel around the UK/Ireland for a year, however my two indoor six month old kitties have been one of the things I severely worry about. They’re both getting on well with leash training however they spaz out any time I take them inside a vehicle and start it up, so this advice is very welcome! I have a couple of questions though… What do you do about toilet issues on the road -do you have a litter box? Does your pet insurance cover travelling? And how do your kitties get exercise?

    Loving the blog, always look forward to new posts!

    • Reply Kevin March 22, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      All great questions, Rachael!

      I think you could have two cats comfortably in a van, but kittens would be tough. Our kitten is making us pull out our hair lately. He’s hitting his “spaz and mess with everything he can reach” phase.

      We have a litter box in our shower right now. We’ll soon be moving this to a dedicated kitty litter cabinet with a cat door for them. It’ll help litter from getting everywhere like it does now.

      We don’t have pet insurance on any of our pets. We’ve looked into it, but it’s not that common in the USA. It’s too expensive and not worth it. We just have an emergency fund which could cover our pets in case of an unexpected vet bill.

      We get our cats exercise with a laser pointer and a few dangly wand toys. Once we’re stationary for the summer in a campground, we’ll be leash training them. I’d love any tips on that you have!

  • Reply shelly September 29, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    I’m a new reader. Thanks for sharing your journey! My husband and I are thisclose to buying an RV to temporarily live in as we relocate (to where? we don’t know, yet!) out of Northern California. We have a very loving, gentle, skittish cat who haaatttteeessss change. Like really hates it. Real bad. It’s the only real reason why we haven’t pulled the trigger on buying an rv or camper (that and $, we just got married). I read that you have a camper with a slide. I also read that I should avoid getting one with a slide because cats can get injured by them? Is this a thing? Did you come across this warning when in search of your camper?



    • Reply Mandy Holesh September 30, 2016 at 1:25 am

      Hi Shelly!

      So happy to have you along. 🙂 How much does he hate it? Would he get over it eventually? Our oldest cat Nimbus is kinda weird like that, but we found giving him lots of hiding spots really helped him get more comfortable with our new home. Yes, we have a camper with a slide. I have never heard of it being dangerous with a cat, but that is because we never drive our camper or have our slide in with our cats inside it. The only time the cats are in our camper is when the slideout is secure and out. I am sure it would be dangerous if the slideout was in, and a cat climbed under it. I hope this helps! xoxo

  • Reply Neri October 26, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Hi! Just found your blog and i am so amazed at with the life that you both are having. And i love that you also have pets! Just curious though, are you ever worried about the cats being outside and wandering off? Totally understand if this is a stupid question that you prefer not to answer 🙂

    • Reply Kevin October 27, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks! Our cats like to stay inside. We don’t leave the door open, but if we’re unloading stuff from the truck, we’ll leave the door propped open. They’re not runners. They greet us at the door with the dogs and seem curious to smell outside, but then run into the bedroom and lay down.

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