There are many motorhome enthusiasts in this world of ours, and also a whole lot of pet lovers - so it’s unsurprising that the two groups often overlap. We recently spoke to Jacqui, an RVer and the proud owner of “Captain” Orange, a handsome ginger cat who loves to travel with her and husband Joseph in their home on wheels - a Tiffin Allegro bus.
We asked Jacqui a few questions about Orange, his life on the road and how they manage taking a pet on the road with them. Here’s what she had to share!
How did you get into RVing?
We realized that there was so much that we haven’t seen right here in America; that we wanted to get out and explore it close-up with the freedom to travel when and where we wanted… so, what better way than an RV?!
We got our first RV, a Tiffin Allegro bus, in October of 2015 and have been on 14 trips so far, covering over 15,000 miles.
Currently, we are both working to create a business that isn’t tied to a particular location to support our desire to travel the country, and help people along the way. We both have a lot of passion around helping others experience life to their fullest potential. We write books, speak, and conduct personal sessions on many topics; Jacqui specializes in Teen Confidence and Joseph is in the field of Transformational Development.
And what about Orange? How did he begin his RV adventures?
As we were traveling to see the world, we realized that we missed our furbabies (Orange our bossy cat, and Frosty our sweet dog) and we really didn’t want to keep leaving them behind. Orange has always loved to travel, explore new places, and meet new people. In fact, he was the “neighborhood cat” and visited the entire community door-to-door for months before he finally decided to adopt us. He gets restless when he is stuck at home for too long. In fact, he will “punish” Frosty for being taken outside for potty breaks if he doesn’t get to go out as well!
He used to meow relentlessly to be outside, so we let him out to explore on his own. After a few months of this, he dragged himself home after being attacked by a wild coyote. Since his recovery from that close call, we have trained him to walk on a harness and leash so he still can meet his desire to be outdoors, while remaining in the safety of our presence.
Orange took to Bernice (the RV) immediately. The moment he came in, he explored the space and purred up a storm, liberally doling out his head-bumps to us (this is noted as his highest form of affection). He literally transformed into a happier, younger cat inside the coach. After that first trip, he did not want to leave Bernice, and returned to his curmudgeon attitude at home. But, every time we leave for an RV adventure, he reverts to his young and fun persona!
Where has he been to and what would you say has been his favourite destination?
Orange is indeed a well-traveled cat. He used to fly between Seattle and Southern California every two weeks for several months. He has flown coast to coast and flies the skies like a pro! In the RV, Orange has been to California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Idaho, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Colorado… some of them multiple times.
He loves anyplace where he gets to explore new territory and meet new people. I believe his favorite destination was the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. He loved surveying the waterside beaches at Jackson Lake and hunting for bugs!
Do you have any funny or particularly memorable stories from Orange’s adventures?
Orange loved Bearizona, a drive through wildlife-park in Arizona. Although we stayed inside the RV, Orange loved “hunting” the bears. He was an expert at spotting them through the windshield and would stalk them as we drove through... It was so fun watching him get into his “fierce hunter cat” mode as he sized up his prey (Yes, he has a rather grandiose self-perception).
Sounds like it! How does Orange fit into the RV lifestyle? Does he have his own domain in the vehicle and do you find it hard to ensure he doesn’t run away?
Orange is a natural in the RV world. He loves the big windows where he can observe the ever-changing landscapes. Whenever we start driving away (or launching Bernice, as we call it), Orange will jump up on to the dash to monitor our activities and ensure that everything is going well. And, whenever we come to a stop, he returns to his post to oversee the docking process. He does this so consistently that we began calling him “Captain” and we now announce, “Captain on Deck!” so the crew is aware.
Once Orange has ensured the successful launch of Bernice, he will retire himself to the sofa, which we call his “Leisure Deck”. Here he grooms and takes cat naps on the road. He finds that the soft upholstery and cushions ensure snug stability on twisty roads.
On my way to another fun RV trip. This is my favorite spot for the drive. It's a long drive so I'll play the #fivefurryfacts that @dimman_the_russian tagged me to play. Here's 5 facts about me: 1. I'm an adventurous soul. I need to explore and hunt. 2. I have as many names as I have cattitudes. 3. I won a fight with a werewolf (aka coyote). 4. I'm the captain of Bernice, my RV. 5. I'm the best purr machine ever made. #purrrrrrrr Tagging a few Furiends. Please play along. ---------------------------------------------------------
When he wants his privacy, he retires to the rear of the coach to his “Cave”, which is the entire storage alcove above the bed. He will sit and stare at his Cave door, and meow if necessary, until we open the Cave to let him jump in.
Each night he begins his ritual of relaxing on the dash, outside of the privacy curtain, where he can easily monitor everything happening outside. He then rotates between multiple pet beds throughout the coach, each strategically located by a view window.
Orange is very happy in Bernice, and we haven’t really had any issues with him wanting to run away. We are careful not to leave the door or windows open, because we know the call of nature is strong for him despite his love for Bernice. If it’s too many days between RV trips, we will sometimes take Orange on a “field trip” to visit Bernice for a few hours… we vacuum, do light maintenance or cleaning and Orange gets a little escape from the mundane stationary home.
Are people surprised to see a fierce feline enjoying the RV way of life? Have you had any interesting reactions?
Yes, we have had many fun conversations with other RV owners about Orange and his adventures. We actually get the most reactions when we are refueling at a gas station and Orange is monitoring from the deck. There are often lots of smiles and fingers pointing at Orange as we drive down the road and people see him at his post on the command deck.
Do you find there are some restrictions on where you can take Orange?
We have been very fortunate to stay at many pet-friendly RV parks. We do have issues with most National Parks not allowing pets on hiking trails. In addition, we only take Orange on shorter hikes because we do have to carry him part way in a cat backpack, usually in the beginning of the trail and when we are done hiking. He does take his sweet time on the hikes, and we are definitely on his schedule (and usually pulled in his desired direction).
Orange sounds like a lucky cat! Do you have any advice for those who are keen to hit the road with pets in tow?
Do it! If your pet is uncomfortable with travelling, start out by taking small trips in your car and let your pet get used to the motion. It seems to help if they are able to see out of the windows, rather than being contained in a carrier or on the floor of the vehicle. If you have an RV, bring your pet to your RV and let them spend time there while it’s stationary. Bring their favorite toys, napping beds, snacks, and treats. Our coach is filled with such things!
Be very careful to make sure all of your screens on your windows are closed and latched. We accidentally left a screen open once, and came back to find Orange waiting patiently outside for us to return… we are so lucky that he loves Bernice that much.
You can follow Orange’s adventures on his Instagram profile, and also spot him on the Facebook page RV Adventures with Pets along with a few other furry travellers - his siblings Frosty the dog and McAllister the kitten.
Keen for an adventure of your own like this fierce feline? Pick up an RV rental in the US or in one of Motorhome Republic’s many RV rental destinations.