Today marks exactly 1 month since my 2 rescue cats and I have left Italy and embarked on an endless car drive through France to Spain, and have moved into the van.
30 days later, we’re all alive and kicking. With a few up and downs along the journey.
How have these first 30 days been so far? (How) have the cat (and I) adapted to life in a van?
Here is all of the good, the bad and the ugly of our first 30 days on the road.
AREN’T CATS TERRITORIAL? HAVE THEY NEVER RUN AWAY?
Simba and Milù are cats, but somehow behave like dogs.
They like coming on long(ish) walks with us and enjoy their cat-hooman time, but also desperately need to be outside. That’s why we even considered taking them on with us on the trip.
MOVING THE VAN TO A NEW LOCATION
This is perhaps the first real struggle we’ve realised we have to face when we travel with the cats.
Whenever we want to move to a new location, the cats simply hide away.
Somehow, THEY KNOW.
Until now, we always woke up, took our time to have breakfast and clean up, and then called the cats names naïvely thinking they’d just come back.
In fact, they usually do come when we call them. Unless we have planned a move. I don’t know where they get their psychic powers from, but that’s how it is.
Now, after having to chase them up and down the hill and through spiky groves and olive tree fields a few times, we have realised that the day we want to leave, we need to wake up early, lock the cat flap and quickly set up for travel.
Luckily, our cat flap also has a curfew mode and we can set it up so that once they come in after a certain time, they can’t leave anymore. Boom.
The cats do not like traveling in itself. Maybe they haven’t gotten used to it, but the actual movement of a vehicle doesn’t thrill them.
However, they do like exploring new places and making a new territory their temporary home.
But, of course, sometimes things get a little stressful.
WHEN YOUR CATS JUST WANT SOME ME-TIME
I think we had just moved to a new location, and couldn’t find Simba anywhere for hours.
Which is weird, because he’s LOUD and will meow nonstop as soon as you call his name.
After walking up and down the area with treats for a while, we gave up and decided to wait it out.
We had had to take the tracker off his neck just the day before because the Seresto collar had to go (in case it worsened Milù’s allergy) and he was temporarily collar-less.
And then, just shortly afterwords, I found this little ##### just playing around in the bush with a lizard.
I’ll have to give in to science and accept that although my cats understand their names, it doesn’t necessarily mean they care.
INJURIES AND OTHER BUMPS ALONG THE ROAD
When we moved to our current location (Terradets, Catalunya), we picked a really pretty, isolated spot, close to a dry river bank and far from the roads.
The cats enjoyed the new area and started exploring as soon as we arrived.
Within the first two nights, we saw a colony of WILD BOARS, a huge hare, and a massive SNAKE.
When we woke up one morning and couldn’t find Simba, we were a bit concerned. He really loves sleeping with us on the bed (and waking us up 834791 times during the night).
We then checked the cat flap app, which said that Simba had last left the van 10 hours earlier.
Now, that was REALLY weird. Even if he had decided not to come on the bed, why was he still he outside?
We grabbed a pack of treats and set out to look for him.
Fil thought he had heard a meow coming from the bushes, but we didn’t hear it again and they were too tick to see through, so he came to the conclusion he must have imagined it.
Suddenly, we received a notification through the cat flap app that he was back.
We went back to the van and found him on the bed.
We immediately knew something was wrong. His fur was all sticky and covered in something weird, and he didn’t really move around much.
He then jumped off the bed and we noticed he was limping.
All right, off to the vet.
You’d like to think your cat – who grew up in the ALPS, spending 6 months of every year under meter upon meter of snow and surrounded by foxes, wolves and other wild animals – would be able to make it alive in SPAIN.
And, indeed, this was the vet’s verdict:
HE HAD A FIGHT WITH ANOTHER CAT. HE’S LIMPING BECAUSE THE OTHER CAT BIT INTO HIS PAW. AND THIS, ON HIS FUR, IS POOP.
WTF, Simba? POOP?
First of all, HOW on Earth did you manage to even run into another cat down here, and fight with him – and WHY is your fur covered is (wild boar?) POOP?!?
Well, at least it turned out to be nothing serious.
A hefty vet visit, an injection of antibiotics and anti inflammatory shots, a week-cycle of antibiotics, and an anything-but-fun afternoon spent washing him with shampoo (I wish I had a photo), and he’s already back on his paws.
Side note: I’m determined to get a GPS tracker for the cats, but I haven’t decided on the model yet. I’ll keep you updated!
WHEN YOUR CATS BRING DEAD OR ALIVE PREYS INTO THE VAN
Then, there’s the hunting.
Simba and Milù were born (raised, abandoned and then found by yours truly) high up in the mountains. They’re used to hunting everything that moves.
In fact, Milù (barely) survived the whole winter, when she was abandoned on top of a mountain, thanks to her hunting skills.
Wherever we are with the van, there’s usually HEAPS of wildlife (mice, lizards, etc.), which means that we get to hear our cats hunting all the time.
Now, if you don’t know what kind of sounds a cat makes when they’ve just caught something, consider yourself lucky.
It sounds like they’ve just been run over by a car and are desperately asking for help, but in reality they’re just yelling LOOK AT ME HOOMAN IM SO GOOD I GOT YA A MOUSE.
The first time they caught something during our travels, Fil looked at me and was like, WTF is this!? Are they dying!?
Nope, they’ve just caught something. (Usually, a mouse or a lizard)
After I had to throw out of my apartment countless mice (alive or dead), lizards, gekos, birds and what not, I’ve learned how to make sure the cats don’t bring in their preys anymore.
But Fil – who, 3 weeks into the trip, I’ve successfully turned into crazy cat lady 💕 – had done extensive research on cat behaviour (!) and told me that NOOO, it’s their natural instinct, you can’t yell at them! You’ll confuse them! **GOOD BOY, SIMBA**, and patted him on the back.
8 am next morning, we woke up to a red stain on the blanket.
WTF is this!?, I asked.
It’s Blood! Is Simba OK!?, Fil said, naïvely.
I looked down the floor and saw a dead mouse.
AAAAAAHHHHH! No more cats allowed on bed from now on!!!, Fil yelled, in horror.
Meanwhile, Simba entered through the cat flap with extreme nonchalance and was like, Wassup? Is my food ready yet?
Some people suggest you attach a little bell to their collars, but I think it would be really annoying to both the cats and ourselves, so I just resorted to my ol’ ways – yelling NOOOOOOO and throwing their prey away as soon as I catch them with one.
They do not bring their trophies into the van anymore because they’re afraid I’ll take them away.
(But we’ll still wake up to their LOOK AT ME IVE CAUGHT THIS MASSIVE LIZARD sound a few times every night.)
KEEPING THE CATS SAFE FROM DOGS WHILE TRAVELING
As promised in my last post, I bought a road sign with a cat silhouette on it. 😹
Even if we always park in fairly remote areas, there’s always a chance someone comes around to walk their dogs, or another van with dogs decides to park next to us.
I always put it up on the windscreen, so whoever comes along knows there are cats around.
It’s fairly bad quality, but it does its job.
TRAVELING CATS ARE HAPPY CATS
Yes, traveling with cats means you’ll worry more and have to plan more carefully, from the moment you choose your next parking / home base spot to the moment you need to move the van.
But, in spite of all of the ups and downs (and the €€€ I’ve already spent in vet visits 🤯), (my) traveling cats are happy cats.
They get to see new places, spend lots of time in nature, play run jump and roll on the floor, under the sun, like they were meant to be – and, most importantly, to spend time with you.
Do you travel with your cats, or have you ever taken them on a little outdoors adventure around the block? And how did it go?
Do you use a GPS tracker? Which one?
Or is you cat strictly an indoor cat?
Drop your cat story in the comments 👇🏻😻 and speak soon!