Travel Tips

5 Tips for Staying in a Hotel with Your Cat

Cupcake and I are just home from her first hotel stay since I adopted her. She stayed in a hotel as a kitten before she joined my family. That’s how I met her! But back then, I wasn’t worried about the details of staying in a hotel with your cat because I wasn’t responsible for her.

black and white tuxedo kitten walks toward camera

This time was another story. Cupcake is all grown up, and she is my responsibility. I learned a lot from the experience that you might be to use when you stay at a hotel with your cat.

Seal Up Nooks and Crannies

First, even before you let your cat out of her carrier, look around for nooks and crannies that your cat can get into. This means getting down on your hands and knees to see the hotel room from your cat’s perspective.

If there are any ways to get behind the bed or up into the box spring, you can use the hotel’s pillows to seal them up and keep your cat out of them. I took this photo as an example of what I wished I had done from the beginning of our stay.

pillows protruding from under the skirt of a hotel bed

My hotel bed was made of a squarish box that the box spring sat on. The box at the bottom wasn’t quite as large as the box spring itself, probably to spare human toes from crunching against it when climbing into bed. This left about six inches of box spring exposed on all sides of the bed.

Unfortunately, previous occupants of the pet-friendly room had torn their way into the box spring before we checked in, and I didn’t realize it. Cupcake ventured in a few times, but she always came out when called, so I didn’t think there was any need to keep her out. That was my mistake!

When everything familiar was packed and there was nothing left but a sterile hotel room again, Cupcake panicked and dove into the hiding place she had discovered earlier in the week. Nothing would get her out. Not the sound of my voice. Not jingling toys. Not the promise of treats.

Fortunately, another friend had not checked out of her room yet and was available to help me lift up the box spring. That convinced Cupcake that she should come out, and I carried her to the bathroom, where I closed the door on her hiding place for good until we left.

Make Appropriate Hiding Spots Available

If you seal up all the nooks and crannies, your cat needs to have somewhere to go to feel secure. For some cats, this may be their carrier.

I thought Cupcake might treat her carrier as a familiar home base, but she wasn’t interested in reentering it. Maybe she associated it with the airplane ride. This was one of those times I wish she could have told me what she was thinking so I understood.

Trying to think of another way to give her some shelter, I remembered that she likes to sleep between the pillows at home. So I pushed the pillows apart on the bed to make a little pillow fort. She liked Fort Cupcake immediately.

The first day or so, she spent a lot of time in Fort Cupcake, sleeping there where she felt sheltered. Over the course of days that we were in the hotel room, she felt more comfortable and slept out in the open instead.  I made a point of keeping the gap in the pillows the whole time, though, just in case she wanted to return to that place that seemed to make her feel secure.

Use the Do Not Disturb Sign

If you leave the room without your cat, you don’t want to risk having housekeeping open the door and have your cat get out. The easiest solution for this is hanging a “Do Not Disturb” sign from your door handle. I’m pretty sure they are standard issue with every hotel room.

Make sure you understand your hotel’s policies regarding the signs. Some resorts are changing their door hangers from “Do Not Disturb” to “Room Occupied.” The newer “Room Occupied” door signs are designed to allow hotel staff to enter after knocking first.

Some pet friendly hotels have a “Pet in Room” door hanger available. We used this for our latest trip.

At one point during our stay I happened to see the housekeeper in our hallway when I was upstairs to get Cupcake, and I explained to her that our room just needed the trash cans emptied and a new roll of toilet paper. I made sure she knew to expect cat litter on the bathroom floor and that I didn’t want her to bother with it. I then removed the “Pet in Room” sign for the duration of Cupcake’s trip out of the room to allow the housekeeper access, and I put it right back when we returned.

Choose a Spot for the Litter Box

The most obvious place for the litter box when you stay in a hotel with your cat is the bathroom. It probably has the most durable flooring surface in the hotel room.

black and white tuxedo cat in litter box next to toilet

If there is space, put the cat litter box on the side of the toilet away from the tub. I learned the hard way that cats who walk through a damp tub and then jump directly into the litter box can make a much bigger mess than cats with dry paws.

Instead of dealing with clumping litter glued to wet paws, put the litter box farther from the tub. If your cat is especially fond of water, you might want to put extra towels on the floor of the bathroom that she will have to walk across to reach the litter to help dry her paws before she goes in.

If you don’t bring puppy pads to put in front of the litter box to help contain litter as your cat exits the box, you can spread a towel there, too. Since you probably won’t have housekeeping coming into the room very frequently, cutting down on how far litter tracks will make your stay more comfortable.

Bring Along Comforts from Home

If your cat has an item she likes to sleep on, don’t wash it before you leave home! Instead, leave her scent on it and use it to help make her comfortable in the hotel room.

For Cupcake, that item is her beloved blanket. She sits on that blanket at the coffee shop and during other outings, and when she found it spread on the bed, she recognized it immediately.

black and white tuxedo cat on hotel bed

I spread Cupcake’s blanket at the foot of the bed during the day, and I often returned to find her napping on it. At night, I moved it to the side of the bed, and she slept on it, next to me, several nights. Since she doesn’t sleep next to me at night at home, I suspect the blanket had a lot to do with the spot she chose.

A few little things can make staying in a hotel with your cat much easier and more enjoyable for both of you.

6 Comments

  • These are all good tips! My human learned about closing up the bed nooks and crannies early on. At first, she wasn’t too skilled about the space by the headboard of the platform bed, and I could still get in there! She learned to really tamp in the pillows… and occasionally add in an extra. There have been lots of times when she was stuck with one measly pillow because she forgot to request extras before turning in at night.

  • Great advice. Blogpaws was my first experience in a hotel with my Henry. I had one of his blankets and a few of his favorite toys with us, but didn’t think to block entry under the bed. Will be sure to do that next time. Love the fort idea too.

  • Glad you were even able to find a hotel that allows cats. Many places assume people only travel with dogs.

    I do some virtual assistant work for GoPetFriendly.com. They do ask hotels if they allow cats and if they allow other small animals and include the information in their hotel listings. If you travel more with Cupcake, you might find it helpful information.

    • That’s a great resource! I have referred to their site before, and I recommend it for everyone, even for people who don’t normally travel with cats who need to think about evacuation routes from hurricane-prone zones. It seems like a lot of “pet friendly” hotels are really friendly only to small dogs. More hotels seem to be opening their minds and doors about cats, so I’m hopeful they will reach close to parity eventually.

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