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If you live in a van full-time and have one or more pet cats, it can be a bit of a different lifestyle than living in a home or apartment. However, van life with a cat is doable and just as fun as any other living arrangement. 

Here are some tips and tricks for living comfortably with your cat in a van full-time. 

Have Your Feline Chipped Or Wearing an ID Tag

Especially since you will be in different places and not nearby many neighbors like in a regular living arrangement, it’s best to get your feline chipped or purchase them an ID tag. 

When you have your vet microchip your cat, anyone with a handheld scanner can pick up the microchip, usually placed between the shoulder blades of your feline, and it will show your contact information. Especially if your cat dislikes wearing collars, this is a better protection mechanism so they can be returned to you if they run off. 

Alternatively, you can purchase the Amazon’s Choice PetANTastic stainless steel cat ID tags.

Choose from six types of symbols and place up to four lines of text on the back of the tag. Include your cat’s name, your name as the owner, and the phone number in which you can best be reached. You will not have to include an address since you travel as a nomad in a van. 

van life and cat

Image: iznowgood_

How to Set Up a Litter Box for a Van Cat 

Since you are on the go constantly, you will want a portable litter box solution that makes it easy for your cat to do their business. The Petisfam store on Amazon has a travel litter box for cats that zips up when you drive your van so that the litter does not get all over the place. 

Try Purina Breeze cat litter pellets that make it easier to control the pee and poop odor in between cleans. Standard cat litter can make your van smelly and unpleasant, but cat litter pellets are better at maintaining odor control. 

Find a place accessible for your cat to place the travel litter pan.

Try placing it underneath one of your van benches or in a corner of the van where there is unused space. If this is your cat’s first time in the van with you, take them over to the litter pan at least a few times on the first day to show them this is their new bathroom area, so that they do not start peeing or pooping in other parts of your van. 

Choose a Fridge to Refrigerate Wet Cat Food


Get a reliable fridge that stores your food and your cat’s wet food at the proper temperatures. Sometimes Fluffy may not want to eat that entire can of Fancy Feast, so you will have to refrigerate it until he is ready to eat it. 

Try this RCA mini fridge just big enough for a few days of meals for yourself and to store a couple of cans of cat food for your feline. However, the model is not as large as a standard fridge. 

Review the details below on how to use a mini fridge or a standard fridge to function properly as a van life with a cat. 

Can you use a regular mini-fridge in a van?

Yes, you can use a regular mini-fridge for your van. Use either your car battery or solar power to charge your mini fridge. Check the battery on the fridge often so that your food or your cat’s food does not spoil in the process. 

Can you put a refrigerator in a van?

You can have a standard refrigerator in your van, but there are some operational limitations to take into account. You will have to connect the fridge to AC power so that your food stays continually cool. 

What size fridge do I need for van life?

You need a fridge that can hold at least 40 to 60 quarts of food. Choose from a top-load fridge like this ICECO model that holds up to 79 quarts of food or a front-load fridge like the RCA one recommended above. The top-load model comes with USB capability for charging. 

Can a mini-fridge be used in a car?

As long as you can find a mini-fridge that can be charged via a car charger, then you’re in business. However, a mini-fridge in your car can only hold a limited amount of things such as a few drinks and some refrigerated snacks. If you are going to be on the go with your cat all day in your car, it’s best to keep a mini fridge to keep their wet food fresh. 

Have a Designated Kitty Play Area

cat living in camper van

Image: gypsyinvan

You will want to make your cat feel at home in the van, especially as they transition into the new lifestyle. Mount a cat playground to the wall of your van so that it does not move around while you drive. This will be a comfy place for your cat to sit and relax while you are not driving for the night. 

Don’t forget a scratch post, or your kitty will want to tear up your favorite book bag or piece of furniture with their claws. Depending on the size of the scratch post you choose, you may want to have it connected to the wall alongside the cat playground so that it also does not move while you are driving. If it is small enough, you can store it in a stationary bin until you get to your next destination. 

During your downtime, play with your feline one-on-one. A retractable cat wand toy can help with their hunting and pouncing skills while giving them some much-needed exercise. You will get a good laugh while swinging the wand to and fro to see if your cat can get the feather or other toy at the end of it. 

And you can’t go wrong with cat toy balls with small bells in them. Gently throw one of them on the floor to your cat so they can chase it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know more about van life with a cat, here are some answers to your frequently asked questions to learn more about the topic. 

van cat guide

Where should my cat be when I am driving my van?

Of course, you can seatbelt your kitty while you are driving. They may not like that. Your feline can hang out on the cat playground and get a quick nap while you are driving to another destination. 

Your cat may not like the feeling of the van moving at first and may go hide wherever they feel safe; that may not be their play area. Over time, they will get used to the feeling and find their safe space as you drive.  

Can you live in a car with a cat? 

cat tag vanlife

Image: 2_patates_en_roues_libres

It is not recommended to live in your car with your cat. They will not have enough space to freely roam and play like they would if you live more comfortably in a van or RV. 

What is the safest way to go outside with your cat?

Have your cat on a harness while giving them a walk. Practicing harness training as early as possible when starting van life will make it easier for you to keep track of your cat while walking outside and for your feline to get the fresh air they need. 


 Have patience with your feline as they transition to this new lifestyle and do what you can to make it easier for you and your furry friend.