Is it easy to make RV travel with cats easy? It can be with any pet, but cats can be a little more of a challenge. For many cats, noisy surroundings can make them a little skittish. And when compared to traveling with dogs, there is less of an opportunity for them to get water or take a pet bathroom break outside of the vehicle. Over the past several years of travel with our Mink and Molly and speaking with other cat owners, we’ve found cats are more comfortable staying inside the truck until we reach the campground. But, there were steps to take to keep them safe and comfortable during the long miles of RV travel.
Truck Roaming Kitties
We found out quickly in our first couple RV trips, that our cats like to roam in the cab of the truck. That would be ok if they would stay in the seats, but often they would migrate to the driver’s side floorboard and interfere with the break and gas pedals. And when we pulled over for a rest stop leg stretch or fuel, they had a tendency to try and escape from the truck. Last thing we wanted was to chase an escaped cat around a truck fuel stop or worse yet, trying to hit the brakes with a kitty between foot and pedal.
Provide Space for the Cats While Traveling
Securing our cats became very important early in our travel. Our first attempt was placing them in a pet carrier. Our carriers were small and used when we make our yearly vet visits. This was a one trip mistake and we quickly realized we could not leave them in such a small space for long periods of time. We also needed to come up with a solution where Mink and Molly could stretch out, interact with each other, and we could safely take them from the truck to 5th wheel.
Option 1 – Using a Pet Tube
For a number of years we have used a Pet Tube. This is very good solution for moderate distance trips. It only takes a couple minutes to install, just place in the back seat, expand and use the supplied straps and secure to the seats. The mesh material in the top proves good air flow to keep pets cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and the bottom of the Pet Tube is water resistant. Using a Pet Tube, our cats now have an enclosed space using the entire back seat with plenty of room to move around. See the video below where I set up the Pet Tube in our F-350 truck.
There is one key drawback we’ve found when using the Pet Tube and that’s on longer trips that stretch for more than 4 hours. Just like Joan and I, our cats needs a bathroom break for the longer trips. But, it’s a challenge to move them from truck to 5th wheel where the litter pan is located. Plus the noises in a rest or truck stop make them uneasy and most times they are more interested in hiding than using the litter pan. For the longer trips we had to come up with another solution.
Option 2 – Creating a Backseat Platform and Divider
Our solution for these longer trips that exceed 4 hours was to create a platform in the back where we could place a small litter box along with a water dish. We also needed to divide the front and the back seats with a screen. My goal in creating something custom for the back seat was:
- It had to be light weight yet solid for travel,
- It had to be easy to place and remove in 10 minutes or less, and
- It could not be very expensive to make.
For the base, I cut a piece of 5/8 inch plywood the length of the seats and 22.5 inches in width. I trimmed a couple slots in the back of the plywood to fit round the metal seat belt supports giving a tight fit when the seats were folded up. Next I cut a 5 inch strip the length of the seat and screwed to the front of the base to level front to back. Now I could raise the back sets and simply drop in place.
I could have stopped there, but I wanted more of a finished look to the plywood base. Painting was an option, but I had some trunk carpet from a previous project. I cut the carpet a few inches larger than the platform to give me some working room, then sprayed the top of plywood and the back of carpet with contact cement and formed around the edges. Last task was screwing a couple D-rings to the base and used 2 small bungee cords to secure the platform to the seat frame.
The last component was to create a divider between the front and back seats. I wanted something that would last over time and was made of a mesh material allowing visibility to the back and providing air flow. I purchased a Spider-Mesh Smart Tarp sized for a standard bed truck to use as the divider. I had to trim a little off the sides to match the width of the cab plus I added additional grommets every 12 inches along the top and sides to secure. Last task was to screw a few small D-rings in the center roof support (be careful not to drill through the roof of the vehicle) and along the side of the cab. Using a few small carabiners and a little paracord, I secured the mesh screen in place.
I cover the pieces and parts of the platform and screen along with showing how easy it is to place in the truck the in the video below.
Adding a small water dish and an enclosed litter pan, Mink and Molly are now ready for our next long RV adventure.
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