A&A Traveling Across The Country With 2 Bengal Cats | RV Living
End of Week #97
Springwood RV Park, Greenville SC > Yogi In The Smokies, Cherokee NC > Hart-T-Tree Farms, Grassy Creek NC
Miles traveled since last week's post = 304 miles
Total miles traveled to date = 13,414 with trailer
I have not written a post about what it's like to travel with our two sassy Bengal cats since August of 2020, and prior to that not since September of 2019 - in the very beginning when we were just starting out. Roscoe and Rahja definitely deserve a post of their own right about now, to shed some light as to what it's like to spend a day in their lives. So much has changed since 2019, in how we travel, in how the cats travel, in their health and wellness, and their overall adjustments to RV living.
Check out this week's post!
A&A Traveling Across The Country With 2 Bengal Cats
Have you heard of this breed of cat before? Bengal cats are a hybrid mix of a domesticated tabby, with a wild Asian leopard, and are considered an exotic species. They are not the most "wild" cat species you can purchase as a pet, but they are one of the top, and you can get them in different categories of generations removed from the wild. For example, our Bengals are F3 generation, meaning they are 3 generations removed from the wild Asian leopard itself.
Typically you would purchase a Bengal cat from a breeder, like we did with both of ours, but you can also sometimes find them at Humane Societies too. Technically a true blood Bengal should come with papers from the breeder, as well as for ours we had to sign an agreement that we would not declaw them.
Bengal cats are a lot different than your typical house cat, in terms of personality, energy, and demeanor. They are known for being very, very vocal, high energy, and in need of constant stimulation or they can get "bored" and destructive. They are also known to enjoy water - to go swimming, and they usually like to go outside, and walk on leashes as you would walk a dog. Both Roscoe and Rahja fit all of these descriptions when it comes to their own personalities!
Cats & Travel
I feel like when it comes to cats and travel, it's a complete toss up - you either have no issues at all and your cat will sit quietly and calmly on your lap the entire time, or you have nightmare issues with them that never end. We seem to follow more of the latter of the two, even after almost 2 years on the road, and honestly I've gotten to a point where I have tried just about anything and everything to help make the experience more comfortable.
By nature, cats do not like change. Any disruption to their typical routine, or feelings of comfort and security, can send them into a tizzy. They are really quite sensitive creatures that require a lot of consistency and love. I am apart of a handful of groups on Facebook regarding traveling with cats, and it's always helpful to see and hear what other people are going through with their feline friends, as well as to get ideas on ways to make the experience better overall.
You might recall from previous blog updates over the past year or two, but Roscoe has really been through the ringer in terms of health while we have been on the road. (Rahja too, but in different ways.) We started out our journey in Stone Lake, WI where Roscoe had to have his first of 2 dental surgeries on the road, because it was discovered he has feline tooth resorption where his body is essentially dissolving his teeth enamel. It can be quite painful for them and can be a reoccurring problem until all teeth are completely gone. Aside from that, he's always been the most difficult little buddy to travel with, as he has been a ball of high anxiety since day one, and he can't seem to find a way to just sit still while we travel. He constantly wants to find a way to dig out of his kennel, or to pace around - no matter how tired he is or how many supplements I have given him to try to help calm him down.
Fast forward to this past fall and winter, and Roscoe had his second dental surgery in Fort Lauderdale, FL, as well as he suffered from extreme digestive issues for about 4 months from the antibiotics he had to take for his dental surgery. For those same 4 months he also suffered from a random cough that we could not figure out, and recently went through another round of antibiotics for it, to help rule out bacterial infection before further pursuing an asthma diagnosis. (Currently he has not coughed in a record breaking 5 days, and I'm really hoping this helps answer the cough dilemma.) In the midst of trying to solve his cough, it was also discovered he has a fatty cell lipoma mass on his shoulder. Lastly, and as of recent as well, I have found several bad scabs on the base of his tail - either from a flea allergy reaction, or from food allergies - or both. I've currently been healing him with coconut oil and apple cider vinegar and hope to diagnosis his allergies more specifically this summer while we are sitting still in Upstate New York.
More so than not, Rahja has been a pretty simple gal to travel with. She has her opinions about what might be going on, and she's not afraid to voice them to you, but for the most part - as long as she is not forced to be locked in the crate in the van, she will be just fine. She likes to sit on top of the back seat bench so she can see what is going on, or if she's feeling a bit sleepy she will just sit comfortably on my lap until Roscoe comes to ruin it for her. Sometimes we don't even know she is in the van because she will just sit quietly somewhere in the back, or under the seats. Rahja is the most upset when they are both in the crate and there is no way for her to get out.
All in all she has also been a pretty healthy girl, until recently when we have started to deal with the side effects of all of the travel stress. While going through Roscoe's second dental surgery last fall in Fort Lauderdale, Rahja also got herself an emergency overnight visit to the vet in regards to strange behaviors and frequent litter box use. It was discovered she may have some urinary crystals going on, and more than likely the cause is from various points of stress. This behavior has seemed to carry on a bit for the past 6 months, and recently flared up again in the past few weeks. However this time around I'm noticing it's more behavioral based, as she will just go in and out of the litter box without even attempting to go to the bathroom at all, but more as a pacing type behavior. One time I even caught her just laying down in there, as if it was a place that made her feel safe.
I am worried though, that there could also be something going on now with Rahja's teeth as well, as she has started to display symptoms of pain while eating. She will frequently act as though something is stuck in her mouth and even paw at her mouth to try to get something out, or chew on just one side of her mouth - all of which are symptoms of teeth issues. While we are in Upstate New York, I will also have Rahja's teeth checked out to ensure she is not suffering from any tooth decay, or tooth resorption herself.
Cat Supplements for Health & Travel
As I briefly mentioned above, in the beginning days I really tried everything you could possibly find on Amazon in terms of helping calm down the cats for travel days. I tried collars, pheromone sprays, gels, treats, CBD, gabapentin medicine from a vet, multiple different carrying kennels, etc. And honestly none of it really changed anything in terms of their demeanor, or our travel day experiences.
Throughout parts of last year I stopped trying any of the supplements on them at all, as it seemed like it just added to the stress more than it seemed to help anything. However, after recent research into the cat world, I've decided to consistently pursue this supplement lineup:
Gabapentin - Proper doses for both cats! See, this is not a one size fits all scenario. I've learned a lot about cats on gabapentin from the cat groups I am apart of on Facebook, and the sad truth is that a lot of cats spend a majority of their lives on this medicine to help reduce stressors for them. Thankfully, this is one of the best and safest medicines you can use for them, and for us the hope would be that it would only have to be used on travel days, and not throughout periods of sitting still. I've also learned that dosage is really important and as I've found Rahja's key dosage is 2 pills, and we are still working to see if Roscoe is a 3 pill guy, or possibly even 4 pills. The trick is making sure we have enough on hand for periods of travel.
CBD - Although I never truly felt it did much for them in the past, keeping the cats on a CBD supplement is important to me, as I know how beneficial this plant medicine can be, and I also know that it is something that requires consistency and time in order to be the most helpful.
Bach Rescue Remedy (for pets) - This is a recent addition to the travel routine, and something that has come highly recommended by a lot of dog owners I know. It is a plant based liquid remedy to help calm and ease stress in animals, and is particularly helpful for travel days and vet visits. In combination with gabapentin and CBD, it is my hope that this will be an effective remedy with the Bengals.
Travel Day Routine
Feeding + gabapentin... Right away in the morning they each get their wet food serving (I mostly feed them only wet food now) and a dose of gabapentin to get them started. It's advised to give the gabapentin about 2 hours before any stressful event, such as travel, including packing up to travel - although we don't always have a full 2 hours to go off of.
Slowly start packing up... I try to slowly start the transition to packing up the inside of the trailer, as Rahja always catches on right away and will try to hide behind the couch or next to the bed.
They start to realize what's happening... Once we get to a certain point of packing up she will hide under chairs and become extremely grouchy if you try to move her, because she knows what's coming! It usually takes Roscoe a bit more to at least act like he knows what's happening. He will typically try to watch Adam outside through the windows or front door, and never hides on us at all.
Put in van while we finish & get going on the road... Once we get to a point of being ready to pull our slides in and hook up the trailer to the van, we transition the cats into the crate in the van to get them out of the way. I then typically keep them in there until we get going on the road, or for maybe the first hour of travel.
Alternate time in crate, versus free roam... If we have a short drive for the day, I will let them free roam in the van for most of the trip, to help ease the stress of being 'locked up'. We have a litter box in the van and I typically put out wet food with water in it too. If we have a longer drive, I try to alternate crate time versus free roam time - to give myself a break from cat sitting, and to help keep them safe and secure. This is especially important when we are traveling on winding roads or through higher elevation.
Treats with water... I add water to their wet food treat to help increase their moisture intake on travel days, as they aren't getting as much water as they usually would. A lack of moisture intake (and stress) is the leading cause of urinary issues in cats, so I want to always do everything I can to get them to have more water in their systems.
Back in the crate while we set up... Once we get close to our destination, I try to put them back in the crate, to allow us to more easily get situated in our spot without having to worry about if they are going to be in the way or try to escape from the van. Adam will frequently have to go in and out of the van too and I would hate for one of them to get caught in the door or accidentally decide to take off exploring on their own.
Living in the Trailer
The good thing with both of our Bengal babes, is that they feel 100% safe and secure anytime they are in the trailer. They have adjusted to the smaller trailer space really well, and really fast, and no mater how rough of a time they have traveling in the van, they always immediately calm down once they are back in the trailer. Even when we take them for walks at places we are staying, if something spooks them such as a person or a loud noise, they will always start to dart right back to the trailer - where they feel safe!
This 300 square foot RV really has become their home - our home - and it is a place we all feel like we can relax and let our guard down. Roscoe and Rahja each have their preferred places to sleep and relax, and sometimes they even share or alternate between the cat tower, the sofa, the bed, the cat bed, and the blanket I added to the desk space for them. The key to make them really enjoy a space in the trailer seems to be as easy as some sunlight!
Adjusting to Life on the Road
I've always known that it will take time for the Bengals to adjust to this lifestyle on the road, and some parts of it they may never completely accept or adjust to at all. It has been a learning process and learning curve for us all, and one that I've been super dedicated to doing everything I can to make it go as smoothly as possible.
NEXT WEEK: We recently spent a whole 6 nights in the Great Smoky Mountains, in the town of Cherokee, NC. I can't wait to share with you a review of our time here, what we did, exploring the park, checking out Gatlinburg, TN, and so much more! A full travel review of the most visited National Park in the US is coming to you next week.
I have recently become affiliated with Amazon, through the set up of my own storefront page. Here I am able to list and link all of the items I have purchased through Amazon and would recommend for various needs. I have lists set up for fulltime RVing, camping in general, traveling with cats, health and wellness, and even curly hair! Plus, as an added bonus, I will make a small commission on any items purchased through my link. If you want to check out more of my storefront page, here is the link: Spark Fire Swan's Amazon I will continue to add items as time goes on, as we are always finding something new on there that becomes quite useful to our lifestyle or for our feline friends. As a rule of thumb, I only ever link things we have actually purchased, kept, and use on a frequent basis! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For more reviews, content, and other adventures, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Spark Fire Swan. xoxo