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Ask the Vet: Protect Cats Traveling in Motor Home

Dr. Lee Pickett on

Q: My spouse and I want to take our dog and two cats on a monthlong trip across the United States in our 30-foot recreational vehicle. The dog is no problem, but we are concerned about whether this is feasible with the cats. What's your advice?

A: Your family can make this work, but only if the cats are amenable. I suggest you first take an overnight trip with them to be sure they enjoy traveling as much as you do.

Assuming your recreational vehicle, or RV, is a motor home rather than a travel trailer you tow, you'll need to confine your cats while you drive so they don't venture under the brake pedal or get thrown around if there's an accident.

When you leave your pets alone in the RV, make sure the temperature there is safe for them. Like a car, an RV can quickly become an oven that causes heat stroke and death to pets left inside.

To prevent your cats from escaping their home on wheels, make sure the screens are firmly affixed and your screen door latches securely.

When you're outside, invite your cats to join you in a mesh tent or on a cat harness and leash. If they prefer to remain inside, entertain them by affixing a suction-cup bird feeder to a window.


Each of your pets should have a microchip and a collar displaying your cellphone number. Before your trip, make sure your microchip contact information is current. Keep photos of your pets on your cellphone in case one of them gets lost.

Pack a carrier for each cat in case your RV breaks down and you have to move the cats into temporary housing. Include a can of Feliway relaxation pheromone to spray on the towels in their carriers.

Take your pets' rabies certificates, medical records and enough medication to last an additional month, in case you extend your trip. Federal law requires every pet crossing state lines to have a health certificate, which your veterinarian can provide, to certify that the pet is free of contagious diseases.

Talk with your vet about conditions specific to the areas you'll be visiting. At minimum, your cats and dog should be protected against fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites.


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