RV Travel | How Do I Keep an Indoor Cat Entertained in a Tiny RV?

When I first started thinking of life on the road, my biggest concern wasn’t where I would sleep or whether I could handle long hours behind the wheel. My first and primary concern has always been my cat. I adopted Shadow when he was four months old, on December 15th, 2016. He is a rambunctious feline who enjoys bouncing off the walls and playing hide and seek.

I was so worried he would never feel comfortable in a small space that I started my tiny home journey looking up 400 SF catios to complement my planned 200 SF home. In fact, the first RV I went to look at was also 35 feet long with two bedrooms and 1.5 baths, because I wanted to give him space to run.

Then, I noticed I wasn’t the only one getting restless in Atlanta. Shadow was beginning to get bored with life in the suburbs, though, he didn’t express any particular interest in going outside. His restlessness was the ease of conscience I needed to press forward and free us both from the shackles of suburban life.

After months on the road, I have never seen him this happy or intrigued. Here’s how I keep him entertained as an indoor-only cat, who gave up 3,000 SF of exploration space for a measly 160 SF.

I Create Cat-Only Spaces

My RV is jam-packed with storage space. I can fit everything I ever wanted in here and then some. But, my RV is not always as nicely organized as it should be. It isn’t because there aren’t convenient places to put things. It’s because I give away tons of storage space for Shadow to enjoy a comfortable life. I lost a third of my wardrobe in the bathroom, the two cubby holes on either side of the bed, and the shelf under the dinette. Why? Because that’s where Shadow eats, sleeps, plays, hides or uses his litterbox.

I Clear the Windows

For an indoor cat, a good window is about as close to the outside as he can get. If you’ve ever been inside an RV, you know they are not short of windows. With this in mind, my dinette is another space in the RV I have donated to Shadow. He loves to sit on the table or the seat cushions for hours at a time, just looking outside. He enjoys the yelps of coyote pups, the fluttering wings of the birds, and even the tossing of the RVs during winter storms. I use the side he spends less time on, to work. I then eat my meals on the couch.

I Regularly Update His View

Some people move often and go far. I do not. I’m a slow traveller who likes to park the RV in one central location and then explore by car. Even so, I move every few weeks. While Shadow doesn’t enjoy the car rides, he is bursting with anticipation when we arrive at a new destination. The cat who hid behind the bed for the first few weeks of RVing, now immediately jumps up onto the dinette table to get a good view of the outdoors and to watch me set up the rig. I love waking up to the view of mountains, from bed. Shadow likes to watch cars pass by. My current spot is the best of both worlds.

I Brought His Favourite Toys

When I left Atlanta, I packed a small storage container with Shadow’s favourite toys. I know my cat well enough to identify which ones he absolutely cannot do without. Unfortunately, one died before we left, but the one in the video above was still in great shape for the journey. Shadow plays with that thing every day. In fact, if I have a busy day and an early morning, I put it away to eliminate the risk of him keeping me up all night. He likes to pretend it’s attacking him and then he fights tooth and nail to fend it off and flee for his life. Sadly, I can never seem to get a video of him doing this.

I Give Treats Sparingly

In Atlanta, Mom gave Shadow treats almost every night. I think she gave him treats maybe 10 times as often as I did. Shadow absolutely loved this. Whenever he heard her in the kitchen, he would bolt off the office desk and up the stairs to beg for treats — and Mom fell for it every time. Now that we’re on the road, he’s back to getting treats less often, but that gives him something to look forward to. I also rarely go into the spot his treats are stored in, so he knows exactly what’s coming whenever I open that cupboard door and can hardly contain his excitement.

I Make Time for Him

Despite being a semi-feral, Shadow is a very social cat with the humans he decides are worthy. If I sleep in too late, I am sure to wake up to whiskers on my cheeks or a tail swishing me across the nose. If I sit on the couch, he sits next to me. If I’m working at the desk, he wants to sit on the laptop. If I use the phone, he tries to head-butt the phone out of my hand, so I can pet him instead. He likes to have solo playtime and doesn’t respond well to me joining in, but he adores being adored. He especially loves when I sing or dance for him and will even dance with me in his own way. My mom thought I was joking about this until she saw him do it for herself.

Cats have a reputation for being poor travel companions, but mine has only enriched my journey. I couldn’t imagine being out here without him and I look forward to sharing my adventures with this little rascal, for years to come.

If you’d like to see more of Shadow’s life on the road, check out our YouTube video. We post new videos every Friday!

8 thoughts on “RV Travel | How Do I Keep an Indoor Cat Entertained in a Tiny RV?

  1. Thanks for this very interesting info. You’ve clearly planned carefully for Shadow. I’ve often wondered how people travel around in RVs with cats. I’ll keep your suggestions in mind if we every decide to try it. Have you ever had him outside on a harness with a leash? Or might that give him escape ideas?

    1. Shadow is content with being an indoor-only cat. I can leave the RV door open and come back to find him in the window or waiting patiently at the door.

      He has a harness and doesn’t seem to mind it too much, but because he’s semi-feral, there’s just no telling what he might do if he panics outdoors. Strange things scare him. He doesn’t like the sound of plastic bags or V8 engines and he can be very aggressive toward other cats.

      If you have cats that are not feral/semi-feral though, it’s definitely worth trying! In the post before this one, I shared a video that shows his carrier. I’ve been thinking of taking him hiking in that, but I’m not sure he’d like that either.

      Good luck!

    1. I had dogs all my life until adulthood. They’re cool, but too much work. 😅 I like how independent and sassy cats are. Shadow is definitely more clingy than most cats, but he’s still a ball of sass! I’m glad you’re getting to know him. 🙃

    1. Thanks, Peter! I’d love to come back as my cat in another life. He’s spoiled rotten. 😅

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