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Outdoor Enclosures for Cats

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We are planning to retire in Jan 2015 and hit the road in a 34-38 foot 5th wheel shortly thereafter with 3 (mostly) house cats ages 8-10. I have purchased some mesh habitat systems (tent and tunnel arrangement) that should allow the cats some reasonably safe outdoor time. Wondering if anyone has tried this out before. I do plan to walk the cats on leash and harness as well, provided there are no loose doggies nearby.

 

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I've seen a couple of the mesh setups and the cats were quite happy in them aside from the unleashed dog problems. If you stay outside with them you should be able to do that fairly safely. If the cat is trapped inside and a dog is trying to get to it you'll have a heck of a time getting the cat to go in again. What I've seen that works better is a folding wire enclosure with a carpeted floor that hangs on the side of the RV, usually over a window so the cat can enter and leave. The cat gets to be outside, doesn't need a guard for protection and the enclosure can fold up into a very small bundle for travel.

 

 

As to walking the cats I'm not in favor of that, I still have nasty scars (over ten years ago now) from the time an unleashed dog came after my cat and Monty tried to run, got jerked by the leash and turned around and climbed me. Once I healed up we saved walking the cats for times we were boondocking miles from the nearest dog.

 

I like dogs but have had so many problems with idiots that won't control them that I'm a bit sour on them in general. Not the dog's fault.

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We have used the mesh tents now for 3 yrs. They work very well, except........make sure you put a clip of some sort on the zipper once zipped up. Cats are masters at figuring a way out. That clip eliminates them from that possibility. As I sit here and don't do as I preach and the cat got out this morning. Nothing to do other than wait for her to come back. lol

 

Dave

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Monty was good with zippers too, he'd hook a claw in the slider and pull, most zippers are cheaper ones that don't lock the slider and he'd have them open enough to escape in a few minutes. A little spring clip solved that as long as I remembered to use it.

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We would encourage you to walk your cat on a leash. We have been for 3 years now and have yet to have an incident with a dog but are very mindful that it can happen in which case we would do our best to pick the cat up and hold her. We feel our cat doesn't get enough exercise without the walks and everyone finds her to be the darling of the campground when we she is walking around in her pretty pink holster. For us, so far at least, the rewards have been greater than the risks.

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Many years ago, I saw a unique set up for 'camping cats'. One of the windows on the side of the RV was either removed or opened without the screen and a system of levels was attached to it so that the cats could come and go in and out to the grass below or go back inside without the owner having to do it for them. The owner had 2 cats and they really seemed to enjoy their little bit of indpendence. The sytem looked like strong mesh or a serious of metal crates linked together. I am sure that a lttle imagination could create somthing similar.

Carol

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Hey, thanks for the comments. We will be first time full timers and I am hoping to transition the cats into an enjoyable experience - at home they hang out in our patio-yard a good deal of the day and love it so I am hoping they will take to the mesh system (which has a small dome tent and multiple tubes). There sill room for sandboxed, scratching posts and snooze beds - but not necessarily come and go access from the rv. We will have to work on that one!

 

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In the Pet Lovers Newsletter - a SKP BOF - They gave the plans to make a cat exerciser that attached to the side of your rig by the window so you could leave the window open and the cat could go in and out yet be safe in a wire enclosure. Especially good in coyote country. If interested you can contact the editor of Pet Lovers Newsletter at cfdnld@merr.com and I am sure she will help you. Happy travels

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In the Pet Lovers Newsletter - a SKP BOF - They gave the plans to make a cat exerciser that attached to the side of your rig by the window so you could leave the window open and the cat could go in and out yet be safe in a wire enclosure. Especially good in coyote country. If interested you can contact the editor of Pet Lovers Newsletter at cfdnld@merr.com and I am sure she will help you. Happy travels

These acronyms are killing me ... "BOF"?? How do I get the Pet Lover's Newsletter? I will definitely contact the editor for the plans!

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BoF = Birds of a Feather, a group of folks with similar interests.

 

From the Escapees home page:

 

 

BOFs ( Birds of a Feather)

Escapees BOF groups share lifestyle interests such as boondocking, working on the road, disaster relief, biking and hiking, boomers, amateur radio, pet lovers, solos, and quilters, just to name a few! Expand your talents and share your knowledge. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you are welcome. Join a BOF! If there isn't a BOF focused on your special interest, it's easy to start one, and Escapees will help you get the word out.

 

BoF listing: (You can't get there from the home page but if you open the mail service page then you can find the link under the FUN menu.)

 

http://www.escapees.com/BOF/Default.aspx

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I've seen a couple of the mesh setups and the cats were quite happy in them aside from the unleashed dog problems. If you stay outside with them you should be able to do that fairly safely. If the cat is trapped inside and a dog is trying to get to it you'll have a heck of a time getting the cat to go in again. What I've seen that works better is a folding wire enclosure with a carpeted floor that hangs on the side of the RV, usually over a window so the cat can enter and leave. The cat gets to be outside, doesn't need a guard for protection and the enclosure can fold up into a very small bundle for travel.

 

 

We've always left our cat home because we'd hate to have him escape from the rig and then hide. One of our dogs (the really stupid one) got out at a fueling stop last week and we were 24 miles down I-5 when the humane society called my wife. The dog had an ID tag with his name and her cell phone number on it. So we stopped at a service station and she took the Jeep back to get him while I took a nap. :D

 

I like that wire unit but the web site says they're not in production any more. But there is a $90 unit at Amazon that could probably be adapted to something similar. Not sure hot to support the weight but nothing is impossible. http://www.amazon.com/Midwest-Homes-Pets-inches-Playpen/dp/B000I1M76Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1409012028&sr=8-2-fkmr2&keywords=rv+cat+enclosure

 

We are pretty sure that the cat is unhappy while we're gone based on the way he acts when we get home... he won't leave us alone for a week (in fact he's cuddled up to me right now).

 

WDR

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ABO FUN RUN TUBES

I have used the ABO tubes since 2008, and got the tent last year. Kitty is happy in one 5' tube or 3 of them zipped together (15'). I always make sure to give her some sun and shade. She loves it if I can put part of it under a bush and she can enjoy the birds that come visit. ;-) If there aren't bushes, I can put some of it under the trailer because she enjoys spying on everyone from a hidden spot. The tubes usually need repair every year, but I sewed the mesh to the wire with clear fishing line and it's not a big deal to keep it up. I do usually put them away every night not only to reduce wear and tear, but to avoid visiting tom cats leaving graffiti during the night. That's a bit of trouble, but appreciated by the one who gets to play in the tube.

 

ABO TENT

 

I have enjoyed the ease of use on the tent: up and down in seconds. It took her a little while to get used to it because she likes the hammock effect while she napped in a tube. I started putting a cardboard box in the tent for her to nap in and now she likes it with or without.

 

If we're in a new site, like everyone else I'm there with her watching for dogs, eagles, etc. We have a place we stay for months and don't have to worry about predators or loose dogs, so I can put her out on the patio in her tent, with our windows open and I check on her frequently and can hear if she calls me.

 

Be aware that a 15 lb. cat is NOT enough of an anchor in a stiff wind to keep the tent from blowing away. She hollered for help and was running in it like a hamster ball while I ran for the rescue. While the tent comes with stakes, they don't work on concrete so we pay attention on breezy days and sometime opt to skip it 'til tomorrow! LOL

 

WALKING ON A LEASH - SORT OF

 

She will wear a harness and leash and go for a sit, or sit and sniff, or walk to a sunny spot and sit. Trying to walk a cat is like pushing a string. I now have a light weight 3 legged folding chair for our walk/sits. Will be trying that out. If you can get your cat to actually exercise and burn a calorie, you have done something. My kitty runs bird drills through the trailer, but doesn't move too fast outdoors.

 

OH NO!

 

What I didn't think about when we started is that my Kitty's campsite this week was some Fido's last week. And Fido usually leaves fleas. That caught me by surprise for some reason and I had to make some practical and philosophical decisions in a hurry.

 

SPORTSTER STROLLER

 

I just got her the Pet Gear Sportster Pet Stroller and we both love it. It will fit folded up in the back of a Smart car for the ride to the park, but the cat in her carrier has to be in the front seat. She doesn't get any exercise, but I do and she gets to go with me at MY pace. LOL I'm hoping to burn more calories myself this year. You can read the reviews on Amazon. I was lucky enough to find one on Craigslist - perfect condition and affordable. Says it's good for up to 45 lbs, but my fat kitty probably would not leave enough room for 2 additional strollees. It does a good job over grass; gravel roads not so much. I bought it for her entertainment v. exercise.

 

Various comments on the loose dogs in this thread: invariably they are out there, especially if you are someplace with weekend or casual campers. It only takes one. I've seen a coyote in broad daylight working the treeline at the fence alongside the RV park in Kansas - probably 30 feet from the row of trailers - low stalking, looking under the rigs for lunch and working toward a little fluffy dog. It was just grace I looked up and saw it move.

 

BIKING WITH KITTY

 

Kitty's learned to ride in my bike basket (short leash always in my hand) and we have a bike trailer for trail rides. I converted a used 2-child bike trailer for the cat. It was way cheaper than the pet variety and there is plenty of room for 3. There's a lot of ways to spoil your kitties and keep their lives interesting even if they can't come and go at will. Do not think about the fact that you've now become a rikshaw driver for the Queen and your dignity will remain intact.

 

CHUBSTER INTERVENTION

 

No matter what kinds of toys I buy her, she always likes the box the best or toys and puzzles I make. If you wind up with little fatties because of the change in lifestyle, a Stimulo Feeding Station (Amazon) will slow down the kibble consumption and also increase the entertainment value of your cats. Yes, they are fun to watch and it did add interest to Kitty's day, too. Also greatly reduced the Kitty bulimia.

Edited by rocksbride

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We travel with two cats and use the Happy Habitat tent from Dr Fosters and Smith (online).

 

It is a good sized tent and I have added two folding camping footstools so they can get up off the ground to snooze. I also altered a tablecloth to provide shade and protect the inside from rain - it also gives our shy cat, George, a feeling of security being out of sight

.

Then we added the crazy maze, a square tube with tunnels that can come out from all four directions. One short tunnel is used to attach the tent and we find they seem to prefer one long tunnel to get some speed up when chasing each other. I've purchased extra tunnel sections and we now have 42' of tunnel to run in. One short stays I just use the shorter length of tunnel (about 20').

 

I've tried adding a litter box but find that when the litter is tossed over the side of the box it makes a horrible mess to clean up. So we just continue to carry them in and out of the RV to play in the tunnel. We generally sit outside with them, but have found they are pretty comfortable as long as the door is open and I can keep an eye (and an ear) out for them. We get asked continually where we got these and I think I could stock and sell them on the road!

 

It has made their (and our) RV full time life much more enjoyable. The best part is these tents and tunnels all collapse into a small container and are easy to carry around and set up.

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Wow, Queen Jester, I'd love to see a photo of your set up. Our tent is a Happy Habitat, too, but you have all that awesome tunnel space! I'd really like to see the kitty camp stools and tablecloth shade, too. Sounds awesome.

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LOL thanks for all the replies and the "smoker" joke. I just saw the stroller set up here at the HDT RALLY; seems to work well. Wouldn't be good with all 3 of mine together (sibling rivalry - the two girls will punch each other out =^..^= ) I have quite a mesh system with two pop up tents, four tunnels, and the cube maze. Plan to put them out with scratching posts, sandbox , and something they can get up on (box or crate or chair). See will put motion sensors around periphery so we know if any critters come looking for "snacks".

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Wow, Queen Jester, I'd love to see a photo of your set up. Our tent is a Happy Habitat, too, but you have all that awesome tunnel space! I'd really like to see the kitty camp stools and tablecloth shade, too. Sounds awesome.

The set up changes all the time. I'm not sure how to post any photos to this but if you want to send me an email at dollmaker127@gmail.com, I'll respond with some photos. Be sure to put Escapee or something in the subject line so it doesn't get confused with spam mail.

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My Fido won't leave any fleas. Fleas live on the ground - they may be there even if there are not dogs. Squirrels , birds and other animals also have fleas and parasites. If you let your cat outside they should be properly immunized just like the dogs.

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I am now outfitted with tents, tunnels, a maze and a cat stroller, as well as leashes and harnesses. I think they will do fine. The neighbor's dogs are in my yard all they keep a wide birth as one of the females is fearless and goes after them. While I am not planning to allow her to do her thing with stray or strange dogs, she pretty much terrorizes any dog that comes near. Still, I plan to have have sensor alarms around their enclosure and to keep them out of harm's way. For those of you concern ed about fleas, a dose of Frontline, Advantage, or Revolution about every 6 weeks takes care of fleas, ticks, and a variety of other beastie. It is easy to apply - just a few drops on the backs of their necks. Also, I have all my kitties Microsoft chipped and collared with ID tags.

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Three weeks away and this time we took the cat... not without some trepidation. We kept him in his carrier the first day with a couple trips to the potty room (in the shower). He did not like the motion.

 

However, once we are settled and quiet he likes it. In fact, by the time the trip was over he had made no serious attempts to get out, spent a lot of time at the open windows (with screens in place). Napped on the bed. Slept under the covers when it got cold. And even got along pretty well with the dogs.

 

Snuggled up next to me here back at the SnB. We have a happy kitty who can go along next time, too.

 

WDR

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Here's a Cat House my neighbor has, (and builds) on their rig!

 

CatHouse1_zps4c66236a.jpg

 

CatHouse2_zps4982c5a8.jpg

 

And will be building one for a 5th wheel next week!

Edited by Big Z

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A kitty enclosure is now high on our list! I was really happy to see how much our cat - not a young cat by any means - adapted so well to everything about a long trip except the moving part. LOL :)

 

WDR

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Here's a Cat House my neighbor has, (and builds) on their rig!

 

CatHouse1_zps4c66236a.jpg

 

CatHouse2_zps4982c5a8.jpg

 

And will be building one for a 5th wheel next week!

Awesome! How much does it weigh and how long does it take to put it together??

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