Living in or vacationing in an RV has practically become a sub-culture in the United States. The people who live and travel in RVs thrive on the adventure and joy of this nomadic lifestyle.
RV-ers as they are known, give up many things for this lifestyle, but the joy of cats, doesn’t have to be one of them.
The reasons for installing catios onto stationary houses still apply for RVs. In fact, catios may be more important for cats that live in RVs than for regular indoor cats.
RV catios are vital to an RV cat’s well-being as they extend their living space and provide access to a safe outdoor environment. RV catios should be sized appropriately for the RV while still being big enough to benefit your cat. They should be portable, lightweight, and fixed to the RV window. You can build them from scratch or modify crates and tents.
Not all cats are suited to the RV life, but those that are can benefit from catios. The benefits of RV catios are similar to those of regular catios, but the design requirements differ.
Most RV catios are DIY structures tailored to the individual cat and RV, but this article provides some ideas and tips that can help guide your design.
Can You Take A Cat On An RV?
RV-ing with cats is not uncommon. For some cats, it’s the only life they’ve known; for others, they have had to make the transition.
Of course, some people only vacation in their RV, so their cats need to be happy with both their home living environment and their RV environment.
Getting your cat as a kitten and then training them in the RV life is probably the easiest way to ensure they are happy traveling in an RV.
If you are transitioning your cat from a stationary home to an RV, you need to be patient.
First, get your cat accustomed to traveling in a car. At this point, if they persistently get motion sick, then it is not fair to make them RV cats, and you will need to reconsider your options.
Once they are used to moving, let them spend time in your stationary RV. Use their favorite toys to make it welcoming and enjoyable.
Once they are happy in the space, start with short journeys and build up.
Basic Requirements For RV Cats
RV cats need access to food, water, and a litter tray. These amenities can be tucked away in corners or under beds as long as your cat can get to them.
On short journeys, they don’t need to have access to these, but if you are going on a long journey, you need to provide them with water and a litter tray.
It is important to secure your cat while the RV is moving. The best way to do this is to put them in a carrier basket and secure this with a seatbelt or ropes.
If you have multiple cats or are going on longer journeys, you can use a big crate, which accommodates the cats, a water bowl, and a small litter tray.
Cat scratchers, beds, and toys are just as important to RV cats as they are to indoor house cats. Cat scratchers will help preserve your upholstery, and toys will provide stimulation.
You should place the cat beds strategically next to windows so they can enjoy the view and in cozy corners so they can hide when scared.
Harness and leash training are crucial for RV cats. The space inside an RV is limited, and so you need to take your cat for walks.
Walking provides exercise and stimulation, which are important for your cat’s happiness. Additionally, some people secure their cats to the RV using a long line to allow them some time outside.
RV cats travel to many different places, increasing their exposure to other animals and diseases.
Vaccinating your cat and regularly treating them for ticks and fleas helps to keep them healthy. You should also sterilize and microchip your RV cat.
You need to have a kitty first-aid kit in the RV. Speak to a veterinarian about what the first-aid kit should include.
You should also make a list of the animal clinics on your route and note which ones are open after hours.
Benefits Of An RV Catio
While long lines provide RV cats with some freedom and access to the outdoor environment, they may not be the safest choice. Other animals can still get to your cat.
Catios provide a safe outdoor space for your cat to enjoy, and you won’t need to supervise them in a catio like you would have to do if your cat was on a long line.
Access to an outdoor area is vital for RV cats because the space inside an RV is limited. Catios also provide RV cats with a space of their own, so they don’t feel crowded and overwhelmed.
RV catios, like regular catios, provide stimulation for your cat. The sights, sounds, and smells can keep your cat entertained for hours.
RV catios can also benefit you. The inside of an RV is small, so having a cat underfoot during cleaning can be difficult. You can close your cat safely into their catio while you clean the RV.
If you install a relatively big catio with space for your cat to climb, you can minimize the amount of cat furniture you need inside the RV.
RV Catio Requirements
As with regular catios, RV catios should be big enough to allow your cat to enter, move around, and leave with ease.
They should be secure, keeping your cat in and other animals out. In addition to these, RV catios have a few other requirements.
RV catios have to be portable. You cannot attach a catio to the side of your RV and leave it there while traveling.
This means that they need to be moderately sized to fit in the storage compartment or body of the RV.
Larger RV catios should be easily assembled and dismantled.
You need to strike a balance between sturdy materials and lightweight materials for your RV catio.
The RV catio needs to be secure but should not weigh the RV down. RV catio furniture should be easy to remove and small enough to fit in the storage compartment while traveling.
RV catios should be fixed to the RV and should provide free access between the catio and the inside of the RV.
RV catios may not be big enough to contain a litter tray and water bowl, so your cat should always be able to access these amenities inside your RV. Your cat should also be able to escape the rain or sun if they need to.
There are no pre-made RV catios available for purchase. However, the companies that design and build customized catios can create a catio for your RV if you contract them.
DIY RV catios can be built from scratch or by modifying crates, cages, and other structures.
Building An RV Catio From Scratch
Choose materials that are lightweight but durable. A wooden frame with metal fencing for the sides is appropriate, provided the choice of wood minimizes the structure’s total weight.
You can build an RV catio using sturdy metal fencing alone, but you should ensure that it is designed and re-enforced in such a way as to prevent it from collapsing on your cat.
Designing and building your own DIY catio allows you to tailor the structure to your cat and RV. Some cats prefer horizontal space, so you can build a single level but slightly longer catio.
Other cats prefer vertical space, so you can limit the width but extend the catio to the full height of your RV, providing levels between which your cat can move.
Another benefit is that you can design the opening of the catio to match the size of the window so that there are no holes through which your cat can escape.
DIY RV catios can be suspended from the RV’s awning rail using rope or tension rods. Consider the weight of the catio before deciding on either rope or metal tension rods.
Alternatively, you can design your DIY RV catios so that it extends to the ground. If the cage is bottomless, ensure that you stake the sides into the ground.
This design will allow your cat to feel the dirt and grass underneath its feet as an added source of stimulation.
The opening of the catio should line up with the window opening, and the catio should be clipped or tied against the RV.
You can use foam board, material or rubber padding to prevent the catio from scratching the side of the RV.
Consider lining the bottom of the catio with carpeting or thick cardboard to make it softer for your cat to walk on.
You need to remember, however, that both these materials are susceptible to water damage, so make them easily replaceable.
Modified Crates And Cages
Pet-carriers and playpens are widely available. They are typically metal, and a few alterations are sufficient to make these structures suitable as RV catios.
Amazon sells three-tiered wire play pens (36x22x51”). These are ideal because they collapse flat for easy transport and storage.
These catios can also be suspended from the RV’s awning rail using rope or tension rods, and the opening of the catio should also line up with the window.
Remove the door of the crate or cage so it can sit flush against the RV. Use foam board to cover the portion of the window opening that is not covered by the catio to prevent your cat from escaping.
As with DIY RV catios, foam board, material, or rubber can act as a buffer between your RV and the catio.
Additionally, you can line the bottom of the crate or cage with carpeting or cardboard.
Tents, Screen Rooms, And Mesh
You can buy pet play tents or camping screen rooms to use as your RV catio. These are lightweight, easy to assemble and dismantle, and take up little room in the RV.
RV screen rooms typically attach to the awning, are staked into the ground, and sit flush against the RV. They are an easy catio option and allows you to share the space with your cat.
If you use an RV screen room as a catio, make sure your cat can’t squeeze out the sides and be careful when opening the door of the screen room.
The difficulty with using pet play tents as RV catios is attaching them to the open window. You can create a mesh funnel leading from the window to the door of the tent with a wooden plank acting as a ramp.
You need to ensure that the mesh funnel is secured to the window, to the tent, and to the ground to prevent possible escape.
How Big Should An RV Catio Be?
As mentioned earlier, RV catios should be big enough to allow your cat to enter, move around, and leave with ease. But they can be larger than this.
The size that your RV catio should be will depend on a number of factors:
- The size of your RV. A bigger RV means more indoor space, so your catio doesn’t have to be as large. But bigger RVs can also support and transport bigger catios, so you need to decide what is best for your particular cat. If your cat is laidback and low energy, preferring to spend their time indoors, then get a smaller catio. If they are high-energy and spend most of their time in the catio, then make sure they have as much outside space as possible.
- The frequency with which you move. If you move frequently, then a smaller catio is easier to manage. If you are stationary for prolonged periods, you can put up a bigger, semi-permanent catio.
- The number of cats you have. If you have multiple cats, then a larger RV catio is better. Alternatively, you will need more than one catio. All your cats should be able to be in their outside space at the same time.
- Your cat’s activity level. More active cats need bigger catios. Less active cats will be happy with a small catio in which they can sleep.
- Vacation versus living. If you only vacation in your RV, your catio can be smaller because your cat is not confined to the RV space every day of its life.
Read more about How big catio should be for your cat.
How Much Does An RV Catio Cost?
The cost of an RV catio depends on a number of factors:
- The type and amount of material required to build your DIY RV catio.
- The type and size of a crate, cage, tent, or screen room.
- Number and nature of the required modifications to the crate, cage, tent, or screen room.
- Special offers on materials and items.
- Purchasing recycled material or second-hand items as opposed to new.
Building a DIY catio for your RV can cost between $100 and $1,000.
You can buy a crate or play pen online for between $50 and $300, plus another $20 to $200 for the required modifications.
Pet tens cost between $10 and $100, plus another $50 to $100 for the required modifications.
RV screen rooms can come with the RV. Otherwise, you can purchase one for between $70 to $1,000. The benefit of screen rooms is that they require little or no modifications.
- Learn the prices of different catios and learn how much catio cost.
Cats can live an RV lifestyle if they are well trained, including harness and leash training, and receive ample care and attention from their owners.
Catios are beneficial to indoor cats. To RV cats, whose living spaces are smaller, they are vital. These RV catios provide extra room as well as more and varied stimulation.
Portability is crucial in an RV catio. Some are smaller and can fit in the storage container or main body of the RV during travel, while others are bigger but easy to assemble and dismantle.
There is no best size for an RV catio. You have to decide on a size based on the size of your RV and the needs of your individual cat.
There are no pre-made RV catios available for purchase, but RV-ers are very resourceful, so building one from scratch or modifiying a crate or tent is no problem for them!
The average cost of an RV catio ranges between $70 and $1,000 depending on how you choose to construct it.