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If you will be road-tripping with your cat, chances are you’ll be staying at a hotel, cabin, or other type of rental at some point along your journey. If not planned properly, overnight hotel stays with a cat can have the potential to be stressful. On top of that, finding cat-friendly hotels is sometimes easier said than done. We’ve got some tips for you though on how to best make your stay away from home as stress-free, safe, and fun as possible!
*These tips apply to all types of lodging and accommodations; not just hotels.
1. Check pet policies before booking.
Just because a hotel’s website claims they are pet-friendly doesn’t mean they allow cats. Unfortunately, “pet-friendly” often translates as “dog-friendly.” Always call the hotel or wherever you’re looking to stay to confirm that they allow cats specifically. The last thing you want to deal with is arriving at your place of lodging, only to be turned away because they don’t allow cats. Plan ahead!
You should also ask them about any pet fees. Many hotels, motels, and other lodgings charge additional fees for pets. Some are more expensive than others, and some don’t charge any extra fees at all. Know what to expect before you book so you aren’t surprised when you get the bill at the end of your stay.
2. Inspect the room!
Before letting your cat out of her carrier, inspect the room for anything concerning or potentially hazardous. This could include wires and cords, breakables, or things your cat could knock over. Check under the bed, behind the headboard and other furniture, etc.
You should also familiarize yourself with all of the hiding places. Cats are notorious for finding the most out-of-the-way hiding spots, so know where those are and block them off if you don’t want your cat possibly getting stuck or “lost” in your hotel room.
One of the most common and difficult-to-notice hidey holes is under the beds. Hotel room beds are often sitting on top of solid block bed frames and give the illusion of not being able to get under them. However, there are often gaps between the bed frame and box spring that your cat can fit through. If your cat manages to find these gaps, she can slip through, and you won’t be able to see where she went. Not only is that nerve-wracking for you, but the under-the-bed area is often pretty dusty and dirty. You can usually block these gaps with a pillow or two to prevent your cat from being able to go through. If you need more pillows, just call the front desk and ask for more.
3. Make the room comfortable for your cat.
New situations and environments, like a hotel room or AirBnB rental, can sometimes be stressful for cats. If you make the place seem more like home though, it will help your cat to be more relaxed and comfortable. Bringing your cat’s favorite bed and/or blanket, a few toys, and a scratcher or two will help her to feel right at home. The scratcher will also help to keep her from scratching on the hotel room furniture! Be sure to leave your cat’s carrier out as well so she has a safe space to hide if she needs it.
4. Introduce your cat to the room.
As with any new situation, you should always introduce your cat slowly to their surroundings. Don’t just let her out of their carrier and leave her. Take the time to introduce her to the room. Show her where the litter box is and where her bed and toys are. Let her acclimate to her home away from home slowly and on her terms.
5. Put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign AND an additional sign that notifies staff there is a cat inside the room.
Once your cat has made herself at home, put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your outside doorknob. You don’t want housekeeping or anyone else coming into your room when you’re not there. Not only can strange people scare your cat, but they can also leave the door open and let your cat out.
No, you won’t get a freshly made bed and clean towels every day, but your cat’s safety is way more important. Plus, it’s more environmentally friendly to forgo housekeeping services. If you really want clean towels, you can always call the front desk and ask for them to be delivered at a time when you’re there to receive them.
Just to be on the safe side, you should add an additional sign to your door that notifies staff there is a cat inside. Do Not Disturb signs can be easily overlooked, and having an extra sign makes it more difficult to miss. Some pet-friendly hotels have a pet door sign, but if they don’t, you can make one or print off a copy of our already-made sign.
6. To leave your cat or not to leave your cat?
Whether or not you leave your cat alone in your hotel room or rental is a matter of personal comfort and preference. If your cat is nervous, I wouldn’t recommend leaving her alone in your room until she’s settled. Otherwise, I think it’s okay as long as you have the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.
If you aren’t comfortable leaving your cat alone in your room but can’t take her with you wherever you’re going, another option is to keep her secluded in her carrier or the hotel room bathroom. If you opt for the carrier route, we recommend a larger one that has plenty of room for a litter box and for your cat to move around and be comfortable. Be sure to check the hotel’s rules though too because some of them don’t allow for pets to be left in the room unattended.
If your cat tends to vocalize loudly when left alone and/or stressed, you shouldn’t leave her alone in the room. Everybody has a hotel stay experience that involves a neighbor or nearby guest being loud and obnoxious and disturbing their stay. Crying pets can be just as disruptive as loud humans. You don’t want to disturb any other guests, nor do you want another guest to call and complain about your kitty.
7. Clean up after your cat.
Yes, housekeeping is there to clean your room after you checkout, but you really shouldn’t leave a dirty litter box and litter mess behind for them. We don’t want to give hotels and other accommodations any reason to change their mind about their cat-friendly rules. In fact, we want to do the opposite so that more hotels and rentals will begin to allow cats. This will only happen if we are responsible and considerate guests.
Whenever we road trip with the KCC Adventure Team, I always pack a disposable litter box, a big trash bag, a hand broom, plastic grocery bags, and a litter scoop. Whenever I scoop the box, I do it into a grocery bag, then tie it off before putting in the trash. When we check out, I put the litter box into a big trash bag and take it out to the dumpster. I also sweep up any stray litter that got tossed around in the bathroom. This should be common courtesy.
8. Tip your housekeepers.
Tipping the housekeeping staff is the right thing to do under normal circumstances, so if you’re traveling with a pet, it is extra important to tip. Even if you clean up after your cat as mentioned above, there is still going to be some extra mess as a result of her presence. Whether it’s a bit of stray litter here and there or shed cat hair around the room, your cat will likely leave some mess behind. Be a good traveling cat steward by showing your housekeeping appreciation with a tip.
Cat-Friendly Hotels & Lodging
Because finding a place to stay that allows cats can be challenging, we’ve compiled a list of hotel chains that are cat-friendly. That being said, pet policies can vary from location to location, so always call first and confirm that cats are welcome.
- Red Roof Inn – Always pet-friendly and allows cats. They also don’t charge any additional fees.
- Motel 6 – All locations are pet-friendly and allow cats. No additional fees required.
- Kimpton Hotels – All pets are welcome at all locations for no additional fees. There is also no limit on the number of pets per room. They go all out by offering additional services and amenities for pets, such as pet-bed loaners, food, water bowls and mats, and a concierge list of nearby pet-friendly restaurants and parks.
- Home2 by Hilton – All locations are cat-friendly. They do charge a pet fee, but it varies from location to location.
- Drury Hotels – Cats are welcomed at all locations, unless prohibited by state and local laws. They charge a daily pet fee of $35 per room, plus tax.
- Loews Hotels – Cats are welcomed at all locations. They even offer gourmet room service menus for cats and dogs, specialized bedding, leashes, collars, litter boxes and litter, litter scoopers, pet placemats and water bowls. Pet fees vary from location to location.
- La Quinta Inn – Most locations are pet-friendly and allow cats. A pet fee may be charged at check-in ($20 per night for maximum of $40 per stay per room) depending on the location.
- Westin – Some but not all locations are pet-friendly and allow cats. Fees vary from location to location.
- Best Western – Many locations are pet-friendly, including cats. It is up to the discretion of each location though and approval is required, so call ahead. There may be pet fee of $30/day, with a maximum charge of $150/week. A refundable damage deposit of up to $150 per stay may also be required of all guests with a pet.
- DoubleTree – Many locations are pet-friendly, including cats. To make sure they have a pet-friendly room, call in advance. They charge a $75.00 (maximum) non-refundable pet service fee.
- Hampton Inn – Not all Hampton Inns allow pets, but some do. Their pet policies vary greatly, with fees ranging from $25-$100.
- AirBnB/VRBO Rentals – There are many pet-friendly rentals on their sites. To find them, you can filter your search by selecting “pet-friendly.” Be careful though, because some only allow dogs. Contact the host to make sure before booking! Also, some rentals charge additional pet fees, while others do not.
Have you ever traveled and stayed away from home with your cat before? What was your experience like?
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