top of page
  • Writer's pictureJulia

Traveling with your cat in a campervan: This is how it works!

Note: I sometimes use the word cat with the pronom (she/her). I do it because my cat is female, but i want to address every cat :)

Before you prepare your cat for life in the van, realize that

it will take time to get used to it (especially if you have an older cat)
you need a lot of patience. To make the acclimation easier for both of you, you can prepare your cat for the new life before moving into the van.

- Get your cat used to driving. I took Mica for a little spin about every 2 weeks for about 20-30min. At first she would defecate in all directions, but before we moved to the van she was very relaxed on car rides.

- Take your cat on vacation with you (if possible). I took Mica to Denmark to a vacation home before the van life and after that worked out perfectly, took her to France to a campground. There she was able to explore on her own.

- Get your cat used to a leash and harness. I kept Mica the first year only in the apartment, because I lived in the middle of the city. To give her regular fresh air, I got her used to a harness and leash for short walks outside when she was 3 months old.

- Get your cat used to a GPS tracker. I use the GPS tracker from Tractive (HERE). It is relatively large but very lightweight. At first I was worried that she might find the size annoying. However, she didn't care from the beginning. Today, the sound when the tracker is started is a sign to her that she is allowed outside.

- Build a close bond with your cat. Your cat will feel comfortable and at home in places faster if she feels at home with you. Mica trusts me very much, I can tell by the fact that in every new place she explores, she comes back to me at first to make sure that I am still at home. Mica trusts me very much, I can tell by the fact that every new place she explores, she comes back to me at first to make sure I'm still there. Often she explores places just with me. Somewhere along the way, I found that she becomes more confident when I praise her. If you want to build a close bond with your cat, praise her daily and practice retrieving with her. It is very convenient if your cat knows her name and dares to come to you in any environment when you call her.

Prepare the van for your cat:

- Own Place: your cat absolutely needs its own retreat for sleeping and for the toilet. This is what it looks like in our van (picture below).

- Also, especially if you live with animals in the van, you should think about installing a fan. So that there is enough fresh air when the animals are alone in the van.

This is how the acclimation of the cat in the van works:

- Don't let your cat out alone for at least 4 weeks, so she can think of the new place as her home and get used to the environment.

- Explore with leash: Explore the outside area with a leash and harness, especially if you are icing in the van your cat can't go out everywhere alone (sometimes it is too dangerous). To give her fresh air every day, the leash is a good alternative.

- Note that your cat will quickly get over-excited on a leash. Normally cats are out at their own pace and sleep in safe hiding places between explorations. Therefore, cats are not really leash animals. With Mica, I am usually out before sunrise (since cats are crepuscular) and only out for a maximum of 30min. If your cat is consistently stressed and looking for dark hiding places, work your way up slowly. Start with 5-10 min leash walks. Your cat also needs to get used to not being able to decide where to go. Do not tug your cat! If Mica wants to go in a direction I don't want to go, I stop and give the leash a minimal tug in the direction I want to go. After a few tries, she gives up and walks in that direction.

- Use the twilight hours when you practice leash training. Your cat is automatically more active.

- Make sure you are quiet and have little other stimuli so your cat can focus on the leash and not panic.

- Praise your cat as often as possible!

- Health: other countries other kittens - watch regularly how your cat behaves regarding eating, eliminations, grooming. It may well be that she catches other diseases abroad that you do not know yet, go regularly to the vet for a check up.

- Security: take out a liability insurance, your cat is included also in the European foreign countries,

- get a tracker (Tractive), so you can keep an eye on your cat even if he is alone (GPS Tracker APP on smartphone), offer your cat a retreat in the van (e.g. den) and make sure he comes back regularly and considers the van as home

- Out on your own for the first time: after the acclimation period, find a place to stay longer that is suitable for your cat. Let your cat out overnight, as there are usually fewer people and dogs out. It's best to call her in the morning at dusk time when you want her to come back into the van. After 7 o'clock I have no chance with Mica. If there are a lot of people and noises around her, she won't come out of hiding in the daylight. That's why I'm usually up around 6 and call out the window once. Since she is hungry, she always comes.

- Trust your cat and observe her/his behavior. The better you know your cat, the sooner you can trust her and feel when something is not going according to plan.


About Me


I am a  psychologist (B.Sc.) and shamanic healer. Since 2023 I offer psychological schamanic counseling online in german & english. You'll find my podcast "Inspiration to heal" on all podcast platforms.

bottom of page