On Tuesday we asked our Question of the Week; “How do you keep your pet comfortable and safe when you go truck camping?” We received over five pages of pet care advice. Here’s part one of your answers. We’ll have part two next week.
Here are the responses:
“Hi Angela. We enjoyed reading the Stephn Lewis article about traveling with cats. Sherri and I have been truck camping the last four years without a pet, but this past July we rescued a stray eight week old kitten from our backyard. We named him Spridget, but he should have been named Lucky.
Anyway, we started traveling with him when he was about twelve weeks old. We initially made a couple short one-day practice camping trips. We started training him on a harness almost immediately. He seems to do okay with the harness and leash, but needs occasional refresher training if we don’t use it for awhile.
I made a traveling litter box out of a fourteen gallon plastic storage container that works well and he likes it. I do not have a pass through between the camper and the truck cab, so we have to move the litter box back and forth as needed. A sliding window in the front of the camper is on my list of future modifications.
Spridget is an indoor cat but, as shown in the photos, we do take him outside on a leash when we are camping in a safe place. We have not experienced any troubles at campgrounds because of our camper cat.
He is still a very energetic kitten, so we take a few of his toys, his bed, and his scratching post. He still has all his claws and he has not practiced his scratching on the camper seats, so far. The scratching post serves double duty as a hitching post when we let him outside on the leash.
The longest trip so far has been only five days and he seems to get more accustomed to the traveling the longer we are out. When we first start on a trip, he cries for maybe the first thirty to forty minutes and then just settles down. Spridget usually just sleeps in his bed or on the console between the front seats.
We have not traveled with him in hot summer weather yet. When we have to leave him alone, we just put him in the camper and crack a window or vent and he seems to do okay. I think he just sleeps when we are gone.
We are still newbies at traveling with a camper cat, but so far it has worked out okay. As far as advice to other newbies traveling with pets, what I can say is that I think it’s easier to train a kitten than an adult cat. The harness training is well worth the effort.
Your articles in TCM about traveling with pets are very helpful. Thanks.”
Buzz Merchlewitz, Sherri Williams, and Spridget, the lucky cat
1998 Dodge Ram 2500
2007 Four Wheel Grandby
“Hi Angela. I enjoyed your story about Stephn Lewis and his wife, and how they camp with their cats. I haven’t been able to yet convince my boyfriend to take our kitties along, but I would like to try it. Our cat, Roo, looks a lot like Harley, which I use as an argument that he would take to the road. That argument hasn’t gotten me far yet.
I have been successful harness training my cats though! We adopted them from from a family who was losing their home when the cats were five. They were accustomed to being inside/outside cats, but I prefer to have inside only cats. The first summer was fine, but by the second spring, they were anxious to get out. I bought a MetPet cat harness (brand is important, I think, for pet security and safety) and watched a few videos on YouTube. There were a few good videos introducing the harness and walking a cat on a leash.
Like Stephn, my Roo would flop over as soon as you put him in the harness, at first. So I would put the harness on him, carry him outside to the deck, and put him down. Flop, “My legs are broken mom!” I would let him lay there and wear it for a few minutes, then bring him in and take it off. Soon, he understood that if he wanted to go outside, the harness was part of the deal. He and his sister, Tubby, took about a month to acclimatize, but they got used to going out and walking around wearing a harness. They didn’t love being on a leash, but they wanted to be outside more.
It is important that if you have a cat in a harness or on a leash, you do not leave them unattended! Even with me outside with them (usually reading a book in the shade as they wandered as far as the leash would let them), they got scared a few times and tangled themselves up.
I don’t imagine we’ll be taking the cats any time soon in our truck camper, but it sure would be fun to try. Thanks for the great stories.”
Linda Becker and Roo, the cat
1989 Sunlight Hideway
1994 Ford F-250
“Hi Gordon and Angela. The camping cats article was great! She taught him about camping and he taught her about cats. It sounds like Stephn and Lee Lewis have a marriage made in heaven! Their cats are gorgeous and reading about them makes me miss our five cats all over again. I’m a little tempted to get another cat, but I’ll resist, for it hurts too much each time you lose one. Five times is enough. But it sure is fun to read about others’ adventures with their cats. Thank you! PS: I like their pop-up too!”
Lori Markoff, Austin, Texas