I wanted to do a vlog about Kali getting used to RV life as I see so many posts asking how cats live on the road full time however that vlog needs much more time then I currently have. So this is a next best covering the steps I took in getting my cat Kali on a harness as well as other important safety factors. So, if you’re looking to train your cat to walk on a harness or just want to see a cute kitty doing the cat walk then stick around this blog is just for you.
I recognized that when moving into my motorhome which was a much smaller space than my previous home, Kali would need some form of regular exercise. She used to have her outdoor enclosure that she could roam in and out of at her leisure so I also needed to factor in some chill outdoor time. For this I use some steel frames which I carry around in the back of Kalypso and erect when stopping over at a camp spot however the outdoor walking was the thing I wanted to work towards as this would give her exploration time as well as exercise.
I was a little scared to get her on the harness, I had some pretty bad experiences in the past with beloved pets on the road and to this day still have flashbacks of these experiences. Not only this, I have heard some horror stories from other campers about full time cats who have been scared in a storm or spooked by something and running off never to return again. This has made me quiet nervous about the possibility of losing what has become my closest fur friend so our progress on the harness has been a very slow but steady one. I need to mention here that although I would love for Kali to have loads of space to run around outside freely, to climb trees and the likes, I am also aware of the damage cats can do to local wildlife if not on a lead etc. So, it is my personal preference to have her on a lead outdoors for her own safety and the safety of others.
As with most cats, Kali is an early morning riser and loves to see what’s going on outside in her environment. Since harness training we have gotten into a daily routine of short morning walks around Kalypso. She knows when I get back from my morning walk/jog she will then get to go on hers. She loves to see, smell, taste and feel the different grasses, shrubs, dirt, insects, wildlife but mostly the local birds etc.
So let’s take a few steps back and look at the steps I used to get her to this point.
1. Purchased a specified cat harness and lead from a local pet store
2. Let it sit in the house and accumulate that homely scent
3. Engaged her in play time with the harness and lead for a week or so
4. Placed her on the harness inside for a very short time (she wasn’t impressed)
5. Every few days put the harness back on and allowed her to walk around a little inside
After she was a little more comfortable in a few weeks
6. Trialed her outside at family’s house where she was familiar (she escaped after being spooked by a loud noise but luckily ran to the porch where we could pick her up)
7. Researched more suitable and safer options and ordered the Mynwood harness from Scotland https://www.mynwoodcatjackets.com/
8. Repeated the same steps with this harness leaving it inside to gather safe homely scents and gave Kali play time with it
9. Spent time opening and closing the Velcro to get her used to the sound as I had heard that some cats were scared of the Velcro sound.
10. Placed the harness on her and took her straight outside as she seemed eager to go outside and not too fussed at having it put on
11. Oh and lots of kitty praises and a pat when on the lead, she loves being told what a beautiful girl she is
Kali has only been walking each morning on the harness for a couple of weeks so we still have a long way to go with her levels of comfort and she only stays out for short lengths of time. I keep the door to Kalypso open and as soon as she indicates she wants to go in I let her guide the way. Once inside I tell her what an amazing and beautiful kitty she is and then she usually has her breakfast of wet food which is a treat. I’m sure in time she will feel more confident and want to stay out for longer but for now it’s still slow baby steps.
I had not seen any other cats on harnesses when camped out on my travels however recently I had seen a young couple take their gorgeous ginger kitty for a walk which got me pretty excited. It was so good to have a conversation with other kitty carers, chatting away about the pros and cons of cat life on the road, exchanging ideas and talking about how much they impact our lives in such a positive way. A big shout out to that awesome young couple which I didn’t get their names. They had given me a dog/cat runner for Kali to try as their beautiful ginger kitty didn’t like it. I guess that’s the thing with travel life, you come across so many beautiful people however only meet them once or so before you move on. If you guys get to see/read this, a big thank you!
After chatting with this awesome couple another lady stopped outside of my camp spot to tell me it was great to see another kitty out free camping, she too had a full time kitty on the road which she walked on a harness. Bonus conversations all in one day!
I tried Kali on the runner a couple of times now and although she was weary looking back at the lead attached to the steel peg she seemed ok. It will take some time getting use to and I will keep trialing her on this to see how she goes.
Other important factors I keep in mind before taking Kali out on her harness:
· I only put her on her harness outside within the local space of Kalypso and only if there are no noisy neighbors, dogs, traffic etc
· If its bad weather or possibly going to storm I don’t take her out
· I only take her out in the mornings and up until the early afternoon just in case she gets loose and it becomes dark and difficult to look for her
· I have play toys and items of familiarity outside in the area which are her comforts
· The front door to Kalypso is open so she can run back in if spooked
· Not allow Kali to go underneath Kalypso where she could jump up into all the spaces and become stuck or unwilling to get back out
· I am constantly monitoring her reactions to noise, wildlife etc so that I can move fast if need be
Many may find that my methods may be a little over the top however there will be those who feel that more could be done, either way these are my experiences with Kali and we
are only newbies. The way I see it, you have either got a stayer, a runner or a come and go as you please kind of kitty. I think Kali is a stayer however if spooked I could have a runner. If you’re after more information there is loads of stuff on the internet as well as Facebook but knowing your cat and using your intuition to know what works and doesn’t is important. If you have any tips or tricks I would love to hear about them so leave us a comment below!
Yours in presence,
TamSun & Kali