Cat StoriesCatsFeaturette

Can You Camp with a Cat?

Camping with a cat can be an adventure and a learning experience.

Yes, you CAN travel in a van with a cat – in a hat or on a mat! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Anyway, after my first year of teaching, my husband and I bought a 1972 Volkswagen Westfalia camper van. We were so excited to head out on our adventure to Montana, where my husband’s cousin was going to be married. We decided to spend the entire summer camping in Montana, instead of just a short road trip to the wedding then back home. We planned out most everything from who would pick up our mail and water our plants to making sure our friends and family had emergency phone numbers. Unfortunately, we forgot to plan for who was going to take care of our cat. We were down to the last day before we were to leave and finally it dawned on us – why not just take Kitty Cat with us? Well, we made a few minor adjustments in order to add a cat box and her food and water dishes to our small van then off we went!

Our Kitty was a superb adventure cat! She loved traveling and camping with us. Most of the time she would ride on the bed in the back all snuggled up in one of our sleeping bags. Very rarely would she ride on my lap while we were traveling down the road, and that wouldn’t last long since she couldn’t really see very well due to her crossed eyes. I would not recommend letting a cat wander free in a van as cats can get under the pedals while a person is driving, but we were young and well, you know the rest.

When we’d get to a campsite, Kitty Cat would venture out of the van to find a sunny spot while we were setting up. She was an adventure cat after all! Because we were afraid she’d wander too far, she was on a leash and she would always try to lie down with the leash stretched as far as it would go. Sometimes this would go well and she’d stay where she was and sometimes she would fight the leash and do kitty ‘gator rolls. She had a love/hate relationship with the leash. What we should have done was actually train her to a harness and leash. Instead, we just attached the leash to her collar and expected her to deal with it. Nowadays there are much better harnesses and leashes made specifically for adventure cats that I’m sure would have been much more comfortable for her and that she wouldn’t have fought so much. Live and learn, right?

Kitty Cat traveled from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park with us that summer. She was the most laid back, camping cat we could have asked for and from then on, whenever we would go camping in the van, she was with us. Adventure cats rock!

We thought our cat was pretty exceptional, and maybe at the time she was. But now, a few decades later, we are on the road in our RV full time, and we see an amazing number of traveling cats, include two other cats of our own. Indoor cats, cats on leashes, and even some that free-roam at each RV stop (which terrifies me a little for their safety). It is pretty obvious that many cats are just fine and even enjoy traveling and camping, so don’t hesitate to take them along.

Please share your cat stories

  • What have you learned to do differently while traveling with your cat?
  • Does your cat seem to enjoy the adventure?

Let us know in the comments below, or submit your story for our community story post!


Jeannie / Lead Writer, Tires & Tails

Hi, I'm Jeannie! I'm a full-time RVer with a lifelong need for travel. I used to be an elementary school teacher and had a dog training business in Washington State. I have had numerous pets throughout my life, and love to travel with them. I started my full time RV adventure with one dog and two cats. I currently have a dog who comes with my husband and me on our traveling adventures.

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