Interested in van life with a cat and unsure where to start?
To prepare for your cat’s new life, below are tips and tricks to ease into van life with a cat, and make sure you get started with the right paw forward!
Consider Extreme Weather
Extreme temperatures are a significant factor to consider in this lifestyle. If you’re thinking about traveling with your cat in a campervan, it’s important to incorporate extreme weather solutions into your van build.
For hot temperatures, I would recommend installing one or two (depending on the size of your van) rooftop fans for ventilation and cooling.
Add a Scratching Post
Cats instinctually scratch things to keep their claws sharp, to stretch, to exercise, and mark their territory. Once they find a spot they like to scratch they are likely to return to it. For that reason, it is best to put a scratching post for your cat in the van before they move in and decide to use something else.
During my build, I installed a cactus-shaped scratching post onto the side of a cabinet.
Consider The Litter Box
All cat owners know that litter boxes tend to get dirty quickly and need to be changed regularly. This is even more true in a van where you share a small space with your stupid pet.
I recommend putting the litter box in an easy-to-access area of the van yet where the cat still has some privacy. Mine is located underneath the bench seating, right when you walk into the van. I put a cloth door on it, so it is easy for my cat to go in and out while having some privacy and being able to do his ‘business’ discretely.
To control the smell, I use four different strategies that have been working pretty great:
- Scoop the litter every day
- Put charcoal odor-eliminating bags near the litter box
- Sprinkle Arm and Hammer odor neutralizer over the litter
- Install a cat litter deodorizer with a USB charger near the litter box.
Harness Train Your Cat
Training your cat to walk (or at least comply) with a harness & leash is a key element to having success in traveling with a cat. Cats get scared easily by just about anything but having a harness helps you keep them safe and make sure that you’re still in control if something happens.
Slowly Introduce Your Cat To The Campervan
Unlike dogs, cats have longer adjustment periods whenever they are introduced to a new space for the first time. This can last anywhere from several days up to a few weeks before they start to feel comfortable and consider the van their ‘new home’.
Begin by putting them in the campervan and showing them their new surroundings, but don’t start driving yet. I would suggest at least three to four days of an adjustment period before you actually start driving. Additionally, try to make the van look (and smell) as much as their old home.
Make Sure Your Cat Gets Exercise
In general, a cat should get about thirty minutes of physical activity every day. Exercise stimulates cats mentally, keeps them at a healthy weight, and improves their mood.
In a small space, like a campervan, it may be difficult for a cat to get enough exercise. Training them to use the harness and taking them on walks is always an option.
Get a Tracker For Your Cat
If you plan to let your cat out of the van, it is a good idea to get a tracker for them along with a collar that has your phone number on it. This way if they ever run off or go missing, you would be able to track them down easily.
Here are a few tracker options that are popular for cats:
- Tile Bluetooth Tracker – this is a Bluetooth device that is used to find lost items & is one of the least expensive options. While it was not made for cat tracking specifically, its range is 200 feet for the mate version or 400 feet for the pro version. I have seen a lot of people using these for their cats and they seem to work okay although they seem a bit bulky on a cat’s collar.
Apple AirTag– this also runs off Bluetooth and is not specifically made for cats. When it is in BT range, the range is about 30 feet, but the tag increases its range using other iPhones to ping off the air tag and notifies you via ‘Find My Network’ in lost mode. Rather than putting it on a keychain on your cat’s collar, I would suggest putting it inside a collar made specifically for it to distribute the weight better so it doesn’t hang in the way. Many companies make air tag collar holders like these ones.
Tarot Meditation Tools
Meditation is an important part of my daily practice. Over the years I have learned many tarot meditations that I use for myself and with my students. I have compiled some of my favorites here for you to try or revisit.
Because meditation is designed to take us out of our analytical mind and allow us to enter a more expansive awareness, using tarot card meditations can create opportunities for insight that you cannot experience from doing non-meditative tarot readings or academic work with the cards.
Ultimately, regular meditation practice opens up insight, intuition, and psychic abilities. Then our work with readings can pull from both knowledge-based and insight-based practices, integrating both sides of the brain. The practical result is very powerful, inspired, clear, and detailed readings.
1. Fixed Gaze Meditation
I learned this technique from a friend more than twenty years ago; we weren’t using it with tarot images at the time, but with some simple geometric shapes printed large on regular copy paper. I more recently looked the technique up online and discovered that it is a yoga meditation called Trāṭaka and can be used to open up psychic powers.
The meditation consists of fixing your gaze on a symbol or object while allowing natural thoughts to arise and then letting them go. The goal is to become completely absorbed in the symbol, which in turn stills the mind, releasing the brain from the limitations of time and space and opening up spiritual consciousness.
In my Esoteric Tarot class, we use this exercise to focus on either a single astrological symbol or an astrological decan ruler and sign (such as are associated with the non-Ace pips, which DTC presenter Austin Coppock will address in detail). Some other tarot-related focuses could include a single symbolic element within a tarot card (like the crossed keys at the feet of the Hierophant or wreath on the wand that is held aloft in the Six of Wands or the snail at the bottom of the Nine of Pentacles). This exercise might also work well for simpler cards, such as Waite-Smith style Aces or any unillustrated pip card (such as those of the Tarot de Marseilles). It’s certainly possible to focus on the entire image of a more complex scenic card or Major Arcanum. Ultimately, though, this technique is most effective with a very simple focus. You may like to try the scanning technique, number three in this list, for full cards. But as always, do what produces the best results for you.
- Sit or stand in proper meditation posture and remain still throughout the meditation. Situate yourself so that your gaze naturally falls on the image or object that you wish to meditate on.
- Using a soft focus, gaze at your chosen symbol or card element.
- The gazing is done without blinking or straining; when your eyes start to water, you may shut them and hold the image in your mind’s eye.
- Pay attention to the thoughts that come up (without holding on to them) as they may provide insight into the meaning of the symbols. Don’t try to understand the symbol, only gaze at it, but also be aware if your consciousness changes and you begin to receive insight.
- The meditation can last from a few seconds up to 10 or 15 minutes.
2. The Four-Fold Breath with Tarot Ace Meditation
I learned this technique from The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot by Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, pp. 188-189. It also appears in their Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn.
- Place the four Aces where you can see them clearly. Put them in this order: Ace of Wands, Ace of Cups, Ace of Swords, and Ace of Pentacles. Examine the cards carefully, memorizing every detail of their images.
- Bring your awareness to your body. Make small, slow adjustments to move your body into a comfortable meditation posture. Sit forward on the edge of your chair, feet flat on the floor, spine erect. Feel relaxed but alert.
- Next, bring your awareness to your breath. Simply breathe, and be aware of your breath. Be aware of the breath entering the body; be aware of the breath flowing through the body. Follow the in and out, expansion, and release of the breath cycle.
- Holding the breath. Breathe in, then hold your breath for a moment at the point of fullest inhalation. Breathe out, and then hold your breath for a moment at the point of complete exhalation. Continue this cycle. Focus on the sensation of the flow of the breath and the hold in between breaths.
- Counting my breath. Each stage of the breathing cycle is given four counts. The count of the breath is “in-two-three-four, hold-two-three-four, out-two-three-four, hold-two-three-four,” repeating this at a pace that is comfortable for you. Continue to maintain your awareness of your body and how the breath is flowing through you as you count your breath.
- Adding a visualization. Our next step is to visualize one of the tarot aces at each of the four parts of the breathing. On the in-breath, clearly see in your mind’s eye the Ace of Wands, the Ace of Cups on the full hold, the Ace of Swords on the out-breath, and the Ace of Pentacles on the empty hold. If you don’t know the cards well, you can keep your eyes open and gaze at each one as you perform this step.
- Experience the energy of the visualization. Once you can see each card clearly in your mind as you progress through the breath cycle, allow that card to become alive with energy. Feel yourself filled with the energy of the Ace of Wands on the in-breath, feel the abundance of the Ace of Cups pouring over you on the full hold, and feel the release of the Ace of Swords free you from anything that is holding you back on the out-breath, feel the groundedness and security of the Ace of Pentacles on the empty hold. Discover your own personal understanding of the cards, the images, and the energetic component. Allow each card to become a living scene.
- If you are not familiar with tarot, try imagining a fruit tree, such as a cherry tree, through the seasons. At the in-breath, visualize the tree in blossom. At the full hold, see the tree laden with fruit. On the out-breath, see the tree’s leaves blowing away in the wind in the fall. At the empty hold, see the tree stark in winter with bare branches.
3. Card Scanning
I first came across this exercise in Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magic, p. 99. It’s a wonderful exercise to help you truly see the card.
- Choose a card to work with.
- Mentally divide the card into narrow strips, perhaps a ¼-½ inch wide. Scan the top strip of the card by slowly moving your gaze across the card noticing every part of the image in that narrow area down to the smallest detail.
- Repeat on the second strip from the top, and continue scanning the card strip by strip.
- You are using your eyes rather like a computer scanner that picks up every pixel of an image by moving across the image then down then across then down.
- Once you have mentally scanned the whole card, hold it in your mind with your eyes closed for a period of time. Continue to see every detail of it.
- If you like you can continue on to the next meditation, Entering a Card, or you can end your meditation here. Kraig also suggests a further component in which you “de-scan” the card, erasing it strip by strip from bottom to top, and then sitting in the resulting experience.