Updated: May 17, 2019
Full time travelling with Topsy in our van is one of our most asked about, without a doubt....
Topsy has been travelling and living in the van since 2017, she has just been totally amazing and taken absolutely everything in her stride.
Prior to life as a van cat Topsy lived with us in the house as a kitten. She is our daughters cat and her world. Topsy was a house-cat and her only trip in a vehicle, like most cats, was to the vets for her vaccines, spay etc. She has always been a very kind and patient cat, never grumbling at all.... since living in the van her confidence has rocketed and she seems to really thrive on her ever changing views.
When we purchased our motorhome, we hadn't even slept in one of these, so for Topsy this home on wheels was a serious adventure. To get Topsy used to the van, we spent time with her in there, letting her venture and explore at her own free will. This time was simply extended until we spent hours, loading up to move out of the house (these were exciting times!). We also ran the engine a few times before the big day, to see how she reacted. Topsy now has her fav spots in the van - for hiding away, snoozing and travelling.
Topsy ventures outside, depending where we are and rather the sun was shining.... She has her harness, backpack or does go out off the lead if its a quiet spot, she stays close by and the van is her safe place for sure.
The Harness: Topsy's harness is made to measure from Mynwood Cat Jackets, Maria from here is lovely and so helpful. We opted for a Mynwood harness after trying others and discovering these were not secure, if Topsy was to get scared she could back out of them. The Mynwood harness came highly recommended to us - we are happy to pass this on, Topsy has been wearing hers since 2017.... she has given it a real run for its money, climbing trees and been rolled about on beaches and dusty park-ups.
The Rucksack Carrier: We wanted a carrier for Topsy, for just in case and for ferry crossings etc. The rucksack carriers seemed perfect, for us far more versatile than the plastic ones - living in a van, if something has more than one use, its a winner! We opted for the Trixie Timon Rucksack, this is perfect for Topsy, she catches a ride in this in busier places whilst staying and feeling safe - it has heaps of ventilation and allows her to have full view of her surroundings. She can wear her harness and be clipped in by the internal strap. It has several zip access points - at the bottom, the front and the top. We sometimes leave the top open if Topsy is in the mood for peaking out. For the wearer its great - padded straps, chest and waist straps (like a hiking rucksack), this seriously helps after carrying Topsy for a while! Whilst not in use, we leave the front open for Topsy to have 24/7 access, so to her this is more than just a carrier. This wasn't the cheapest of its kind out there, it is well made and sturdy, its also suitable for small dogs and, we have used and abused it since 2017 - we would totally buy this again as and when this one gives up (so far its all good!).
To check out this Trixie carrier head here.
Collar and ID: Until van life we had never put a collar on our cats, in Kate's past Vet Nurse life too many serious injuries were seen, however travelling full time we decided Topsy would wear a collar - this is non-elastic and is safety/quick release. This shows she is owned and has our contact numbers and vehicle details on a tag. She is microchipped in addition to this (also essential for the pet passport).
Take a look at Topsy's collar right here at Pets At Home.
Scratcher: naturally all cats love a good scratch and its pretty important that they do.... we love to enrich Topsy's environment and also save our van from ruin! Before moving into the van we got Topsy this Corner Scratcher from Pets at Home - it was £8 and is spot on for the van. It can be attached to corners or flat surfaces which for us makes this pretty versatile - we have it just tucked behind the travel seats. Topsy uses it all the time and has done since living in the van, it’s still going strong and what’s best is it is all she scratches on, other than the odd tree outside.
We picked this up in store - it’s also available here.
Toilet wise: Topsy has her litter box in the garage/underlocker storage area of the van - this has worked 100% spot on for us - keeps all the smells well out of our living area, is accessible from the outside for cleaning, is in a cool area of the van and gives Topsy a bolt hole if needed (which she has used). Check out all the info here: Topsy's Loo Room.
Clean, fresh water: Whenever we are on the move the animal water has to be pretty much emptied (or we have a mini flood on our hands!), leaving just a little. The moment we pull up - even if its just at the shops, we put fresh down to offer Topsy, Milo and Cooper a drink - this is so important especially in the hot weather.... we try and offer water before we head off, but if they are not thirsty right there and then, they're not gonna drink!
Keeping Cool In The Heat - we have shared heaps of info and tips right here!
TIP: Topsy is pretty fond (okay probably addicted, since she rips open any bags left around!) to Dreamies and we find these are always good to keep in supply, along with Kong Lavender catnip. You can find Dreamies here and Kong Lavender Catnip here - or grab them at heaps of pet stores Europewide. Note.... "Dreamies" are called "Catisfaction" elsewhere in Europe!
Cheers, Kate and Martin