The last two summers, my husband and I had to evacuate our Florida home thanks to hurricanes. With four cats. It wasn’t the ideal cat adventure, but we made the best of it and learned a lot along the way.
Traveling with cats, even under ideal circumstances, can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. So here are some tips to make your four-legged family members safe and comfortable while staying at a hotel.
Pick a hotel with a good pet policy. Check the hotel’s website for details and then call to confirm. The hotel will most likely charge you a deposit or fee for each pet. I’ve found that extended-stay hotels usually have the best pet policies because the rooms are designed for long-term visits. Also, they’ll typically have a full kitchen and access to laundry facilities, which could come in handy if you’ll be staying for more than one night.
Secure your cat. Even if your cat is an experienced adventurer, it’s a good idea to make sure she’s safe and comfy because she’s likely nervous being away from home. Before you settle in, make sure your room has a hang tag or sign you can post at your door to alert hotel staff to the cat’s presence. If kitty will tolerate it, keep her harness on so you can easily attach the leash should you need to. If you use a crate, make sure she has enough room to easily maneuver. For a feline who is particularly nervous around strangers, you will need to secure her when housekeeping cleans your room.
In case she does make an escape, veterinarian Lynn Bahr says it’s important to microchip your cat and keep the information up to date. “I also recommend owners keep a list of emergency clinics located whereever they are staying on along their route,” Bahr said.
Save the room and your wallet. First, ensure that windows and balcony doors are shut firmly. Ask hotel staff to remove any furniture or furnishings that your cat might use to sharpen his claws, or you can cap his claws before traveling to ensure they can’t do any damage. You can also purchase a pheromone diffuser, such as Feliway, that discourages stress behaviors, like clawing or marking. Finally, never leave your cat unattended. Otherwise, you may find yourself forfeiting a hefty deposit.
Don’t forget the litter box. Pick a safe location for kitty’s bathroom and show her where it is. Simply setting your cat in the litter box and letting them feel the litter under their toes will help them to find it later. You might also consider a litter mat to protect the flooring from any accidental messes.
Keep kitty calm. Even an adventure cat might be on edge in a new indoor environment, so you may want to invest in a lavender calming collar or pheromone diffuser. Also consider bringing familiar bedding or comfort items from home. Cats will appreciate the familiarity in a stressful situation.
Bring toys. Cats need stimulation and playtime even while traveling. A great idea for travel is a tent or play tunnel. You’ll want one that’s easily collapsible and will provide kitty a place to hide and play, like the Hide and Sneak tunnel. It’s a great alternative to hiding under the bed.
The bottom line is that traveling with cats doesn’t have to be stressful, especially if you do a little “purr-eparation” beforehand. It’s best if you can get your pawesome pal used to travel before you set out on your first hotel adventure, but even without training, cats can be kept comfortable while on the road.
Have kitty travel tips of your own? Share them in the comments below.