As a pet behavior consultant and master certified pet first aid instructor, I travel throughout the United States to give presentations and demonstrations on why pets do what they do and how people can be their pets’ best health allies by learning pet first aid.
Many of these trips involve staying at pet-welcoming hotels with my former cat, Zeki, and now my current cat, Casey. Both are born travelers who tolerate being wheeled into hotel lobbies inside their pet carriers. Once inside our hotel room, they quickly do a feline perimeter prowl and then leap on the bed and groom themselves, a sure sign that they’ve accepted this place as a safe home-away-from home.
Before you book your hotel, heed these four tips:
- Hit the Internet before you hit the road. With the popularity of pets joining their people on road trips, there are more pet travel websites that offer lots of details on pet-welcoming hotels and their specific pet policies. And pay attention to the first-person accounts of travelers who stayed at hotels with their cats so you avoid any surprises.
- Sniff out nearby pet places. Before booking a hotel, find out the contact info for the nearest emergency vet clinic, including directions from the hotel. Also, consult the hotel’s concierge staff about available professional pet sitters if you want to take a sightseeing tour or dine at a restaurant that does not permit pets.
- Play it safe. Train your cats to wear a harness, because even breakaway collars may not function properly. Pack a pet first aid kit in your luggage and enroll in a veterinarian-approved pet first aid class before your trip.
- Speak up for special rooms. Request a wheelchair-accessible room if available, because the bathrooms are larger and more spacious — providing ample space for your traveling cats to roost safely without escaping. And put something under the bed to prevent cats or small dogs from crawling under and being out of your reach.
Make sure to pack:
- Disposable litter boxes: Supermarkets stock inexpensive, lightweight, 100-percent recyclable plastic boxes with peel-off lids that contain fresh litter. There are also easy-to-clean foldable litter boxes made of canvas. Don’t forget a litter scoop and spare disposable potty bags.
- Ample supply of your cat’s food (canned and/or dry): Do not switch diets on the road, as cats have sensitive digestive systems and the trip has probably added to the stress level.
- Portable water and food bowls: Save packing space by using collapsible bowls.
- Favorite cat bed and toy: Again, aim for a bed that folds up and does not take up a lot of space.
- Spare leash and collar with ID tag that contains your cell phone number
- Clean-up products: Address feline bathroom “oopsies” with a protein enzymatic commercial cleaner, available at pet supply stores.
Once inside your hotel room and before you let your cat out of the carrier, follow this checklist to kitty-proof your room:
- Shut the closet door.
- Put down the toilet lid.
- Block the space under the bed with your luggage or other items to prevent your cat from crawling under and hiding smack in the middle under a king-sized bed out of your reach.
- Position the litter box under the bathroom sink and the travel bowls containing food and bottled water in an opposite corner of the bathroom.
- Place a large towel or blanket on top of the bedspread if your cat likes to sleeps on the bed at night with you.
- Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door knob to prevent an unexpected visit by housekeeping staff. You don’t want the risk of your frightened cat slipping out the door left ajar.
During your stay:
- Make friends with the hotel staff. Alert them that you have a cat in the room and be sure to tip generously to encourage the hotel to maintain its pet-welcoming policy.
- Paw it forward. Set a good example for the next person traveling with his or her pet. Place a towel or blanket on the bedspread if your cat enjoys sleeping on the bed with you to minimize pet hair. Thoroughly clean your cat’s litter box area and dispose of it before the housekeeping staff comes in to clean to make their job a bit easier. These gestures create a positive impression that will benefit other pet lovers.
In summary, count your blessings if you are lucky to have a willing travel kitty. Your four-legged travel mate can make the miles less boring or monotonous and make your hotel stay feel more like home.