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Old 03-16-2009, 09:42 AM   #1
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Living with Cats in an Airstream?

Hello everyone-- I am in the process of getting a divorce after 10 years of marriage and am seriously considering packing up what little I want, putting it in storage, and going on the road for awhile (not a new story here I imagine). I have never vacationed or lived in an airstream-- but I will post another thread on another forum about that. Here I am most concerned about my cats.

I have 4 cats. One does not really get along with everyone else-- this leads me to think that I would be insane to try to take them along in a trailer but...

Could anyone share how they deal with their cats? I have read things in many places about caging them while driving (4 cages-- where would those be stored?) Leashing them when you leave the trailer (do they get tangled up and in trouble?), and the controversy about leaving them in the trailer or not while you are gone or driving the TV(afraid that they are going to overheat).

I'm sure there's more that isn't coming to mind right now but any thoughts, experiences, or suggestions would be great as I work my way toward a decision.

Thank you!

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Old 03-16-2009, 11:51 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forums jolttx. Sorry about the divorce, but look at the good side...a new Airstreamer in the works.

Can't address the cats issue since we're a dog family (one cocker). But, I would suggest that you get a longer floor plan with a bedroom that can be closed off so they can be separated into "camps" so they don't get into fights when there is no referee around. You should also use a crate to transport them while towing anyway, whether in the tow vehicle or in the trailer, for their own safety. This is true for one or four cats. (Think of the commercial about the apple becoming a 25 pound projectile in a collision.) You might send a private message to thecatsandi. She has cats that travel with her and she can give you some first hand advise.

I'm sure you will get plenty of folks with cats that will reply, but in the meantime welcome to the forums.

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Old 03-16-2009, 01:10 PM   #3
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Give at least three of them to the ex.
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:16 PM   #4
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I happened to have three cats when I started my full time adventure. They all got along fine. And I think that is the key is they all got along. I had a fourth cat but she did not get along with the other three. When I still lived in my last house (3000sq ft) it wasn't any problem as they all could have their own space. Plus she had a bad kidney problem and was 14 years old (wouldn't use the litter box most of the time). So I had to have her put down just before I left NYC in 07'. This was the best for all concerned but very sad for me as I had her since she was 6wks old. Last Nov. I had to put down her brother, which was almost more then I could take. He was my favorite. He had a very bad intestinal problem 15 years old. Now I am down to two cats and it just isn't any problem at all. When I travel they go in their case together in the Suburban. Every time I stop I let them out to use the litter box. They are inside cats always have been. When they are in the trailer they are fine with the scaled down area(now with only under 300sq ft). Although I have given them one of those cardboard scratch boxes that they both use a lot. One thing I was worried about was the heat in Florida in the summer but it really isn't too bad. As I have found that with the awnings up and all the windows open it doesn't seem unbearable for me or them. If you must close it up this will be a problem as the heat does build up a lot. AC is a must.

If your fourth cat is a loner you may want to find him or her another home.

Good luck, I hope that you can work it out.


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Old 03-16-2009, 03:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Pop Rivet View Post
Give at least three of them to the ex.
“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
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Old 03-16-2009, 04:12 PM   #6
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The biggest challenge is where to put the litterbox. The shower is usually the choice but that creates the hazard of litter down the drain which can be difficult to clean out. Sometimes the floor of a closet will work, especially if you remove the door and use on of those litter boxes that are enclosed.

'Indoor' cats and cats that are crate comfortable are a must. Have harnesses and leashes so you can walk with them. Chip them and use a collar with an ID tag.

Be aware that they can find spots in your trailer you don't know about so if you can't find one and you know he's in the trailer ... ! (also be careful about lumps in the bed before you toss anything on top)

A crate for each cat for traveling is also a good idea so you don't have to worry about escapes when stopping. I think it better to have the cats travel with you rather than in the trailer. We towed with a B-Van and used the top deck as the 'cat' deck. Worked very well with litter box, traveling crates, water and food bowls.
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Old 03-16-2009, 06:23 PM   #7
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Depending on the size and year of the Airstream you get, and how it is configured, will make a big difference to how people suggest you deal with the cats. You will most likely have to resign yourself to finding a new home for the one antisocial cat, there will be no room for 4 cats to have a fight in any RV.
If you get an Airstream with a full bath, you can place the litterbox in the tub or shower when you are not bathing, food and water bowls can go on the floor in the galley area. You probably should look into the heavy travel bowls, or get bowls that are attached to a framework, so they don't get shuffled around for you to trip over (don't ask me how I know that's important).
If you get an Airstream with a corner or wet bath, you may have to modify a closet to put the litterbox in. Modifications may include altering the closet door (raising the bottom of the door so the cats can get in and out of the closet). I would get a litterbox with a cover, it will help contain litter spills as well as odors.
Since the cats will be in the trailer almost all the time, you probably should consider declawing, or getting a good scratching post to keep your furniture intact.
Medical insurance for the cats is a very good idea, especially if travelling.
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Old 03-16-2009, 06:28 PM   #8
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3 cats & 2 humans

We (almost) never leave the cats home. Our 28' floor plan works really well. They have an eating and viewing perch up front behind the couch and there is an area under the queen bed that works pretty well for the litter box. We made some mods to seal off areas with Plexiglas (like around the litter box). Of course when one drops a bomb at 02:00 AM we'll be jumping up groping for the fan switch. Having previously used the shower stall it is not much better. I'll post some pics.
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Old 03-16-2009, 07:04 PM   #9
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We travel with our cat, and we harnass him outside the trailer when we are able to be outside and keep an eye on him= no litter box. (If I can take a moment to brag, he has caught two squirrels while tied to the trailer- that takes skill) If I go for longer day trips, I leave a litter box for him for the day inside the trailer, and a few windows open for breeze. He is happy just to have an uninterupted nap.
I would definately recommend using a cage to transport. I used to leave Bosco on my lap while driving (where he is most happy), but this was stressful when making stops, and getting hooked up, and in case of an accident. (we had a minor problem one day, and when we jumped out to inspect the damage, he jumped out the window and the chase was on- very scary)When in a cage, you know they are safe. Maybe you could get a couple of fold-up cages,(wire) that you can fold down and store under the trailer. We will be using a cage this summer.
That is all I have for you- we love having Bossy with us, and I wish you luck. I met a couple in Nova Scotia before that were tenting with three cats, all tied up at their site, and everyone was very content!
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:35 PM   #10
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When we move around, we use a couple of carriers. Then when you get to your next place don't let them right out. Give it a day or two then do it. Cats have binocular vision and we people look like fifty story buildings to them and it just take a little time for them to adjust to new places...but they know and it just takes alittle patience. Hope your new life works out good!
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:27 PM   #11
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I have two long haired indoor cats and have spent a good amount of time with them in a 25' Airstream, 99% of it pleasant. I agree that cages or carriers inside your car are best, as the cats seem most comfortable and don't endanger themselves or the driver by crawling in places they shouldn't while in motion (see the first photo in the set at the link at the bottom of the page).

Also, keep a folder with easy access to their complete medical records with you at all times should you need to make an emergency trip to a vet or need to prove they have all their shots.

Before you introduce them into the trailer, do a thorough check inside and outside the for all holes, nooks and crannies they might crawl into, especially initially while they transition to their new home. The first time they set foot in the trailer, my two cats somehow squeezed through the 4" hole between the bed and bathroom back into one of the exterior storage compartments. Luckily, it has that exterior door and I was able to yank them out and back into the trailer. I plugged it with a piece of wood and a towel. Check under the couches, under the stove, in the closets - cats are curious and will want to get EVERYWHERE if you let them. Some of those nooks are harder to pull them out of than others (trust me, I know). They also LOVE the storage compartments, particularly the one above the bed - nothing like a 15 lb cat jumping down on you from 3 feet in the middle of the night! Keep those closed! I also made a small scratching post for them which seemed to alleviate all urges to scratch the couch.

Hair beware. I love my cats but man do I hate their long hair, especially in small spaces! I cover all couches and benches with washable throws/blankets that can easily be removed and laundered, vacuumed or cleaned with a lint brush.

Litter box placement is key, the first time I had an enclosed box under the table, that seemed to work okay, except when they dropped those bombs while guests were over. The second go round I put it in the shower and rigged the door to keep it open, which is now my preferred placement.

Overall, I realized that my cats were pretty darn happy just to be wherever I was in the trailer rather than left alone back in my apartment. Most will adapt and do great in a smaller space.

Below is a link to some photos from my first extended trailer/cat experience three years ago, you can see how they love all those windows....
Airstream Cats - a set on Flickr
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:27 PM   #12
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what happened to jolttrx?

didn't see any updates on any of the threads... really curious about her intents. Love when I see other single girls wanting to hit the road!
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:24 AM   #13
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Hi Everyone-- Thanks for the ideas. I took myself out of town for my birthday--no trailer though- but I'm back now, taking my time trying to figure out what my life holds.

Sorry about your sweet cat SL-- I have had that experience and it is very painful but we can only do our best for our buddies. I have a CRF cat right now that I do daily fluid sessions with but she's doing pretty well so far. The pic you posted of your black and whites is so funny b/c I have two sister black and whites that I raised by hand (long sad story-- but the two survivors are blessings) and they look so much like your cats!

As I lay in bed last night after being gone for a few days, I realized that it is true-- cats don't like change but they will adjust, especially if it means that they get to be with you.

It sounds like most people so far crate them in the TV--did the chorus of kitty yowls die down after a while? Is there anyone who doesn't crate them in the TV?

I was also wondering if anyone had built some perches or a cat track along the top of the airstream?

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Old 03-25-2009, 07:26 AM   #14
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I just saw your pics TXStream--they do love that airstream....and they do have looonnnngg hair! Beautiful.

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