One thing I learned while traveling with my cat, a lot of hotels are not cat friendly. After a long day of driving, nothing would have been worse than pulling up to a hotel and finding out the property wouldn’t accept a cat (or anymore pets for the night). When traveling with a cat some planning is required.
Hotels may limit the number of pets per night or only have specific cat friendly rooms. Even though I would have liked to drive as far as I could each day, this just wasn’t plausible. In the end, I carefully planned my route and booked flexible hotel rooms a few months in advance.
Here is my follow-up post to Traveling (Or Moving) with a Cat! – Be Prepared: Part 1.
Finding Cat Friendly Hotels
Personally, I felt the hardest task was finding a hotel that accepted cats. A few times I found an interesting hotel that said it was pet friendly, but then I would discover pet friendly only meant dog friendly. It was easy to come up with dates, but finding hotels was easier said than done.
There are a few pet friendly hotel search engines. I actually used these as jumping off points for further research. Here are a few search sites I utilized:
The best discovery during my research was finding chains that are entirely pet friendly and accept cats. This helped with finding hotels easier and planning out my travels. The hotels ranged from budget to luxury, and even extended stay properties. The following is a list of cat friendly companies:
- Candlewood Suites
- Drury Hotels
- Kimpton Hotels
- La Quinta Inns and Suites
- Loews Hotels
- Staybridge Suites
Before and After You Book
Before I even started making reservations, I called all the hotels I was interested in to double check cats were accepted. Some websites would say pet friendly but ended up only accepting dogs. It’s best to double check by calling hotels directly.
Another step I took was reading reviews. I always check reviews before traveling, but I especially looked closely at reviews regarding pet experiences. A few review sites actually changed my mind on hotels. There was one hotel I had originally planned on staying in Oregon. After reading numerous reviews online I decided against making a reservation. Some of the reviews noted problems at check-in with pets or the hotel no longer had a pet room available. Checking out other pet experiences is a huge help in finalizing plans.
Once I had reservations, I called each property again to add my cat to the reservation. This is extremely important and if you forget, you could be denied a room when checking in. When you do call make sure to ask for the name of the person you spoke to and add this to your travel records (you may need this info when checking in!).
Even with calling, I did encounter a problem when checking in at the La Quinta Ft. Lauderdale. After I booked the hotel I called and confirmed twice about having a cat. Both employees on the phone noted there was no problem bringing a cat to the property and this information was not needed by La Quinta. Looking back, I realized I made a huge mistake by not writing down the name of either desk agent I talked with.
When I checked in, the employee at the front desk made a big deal about having a cat and only one room left for pets. The front desk agent told us this had to be on our reservation and we were lucky the hotel property even had a room that could accept a cat. This was obviously different from what I had previously been told on the phone. At this point, I will say I was irritated since I called the hotel twice about a cat and let the employee know this. Once I had mentioned I had called twice about adding my cat to the reservation, her tone suddenly changed and she backtracked on having only one room left. The outcome of this situation could have been different and I definitely realized the importance of noting the name of employees.
Hotel Policies and Pet Fees
When staying at a hotel with your cat, it is important to know all the pet related policies and pet fees. This can help make your travels a bit more relaxing when you have all the information upfront.
Proof of Vaccinations: Some hotels may require you to show proof of recent vaccinations or the health certificate at check-in. As I discussed in Part 1, make sure to visit your vet before traveling.
Pets in the Lobby: This is a policy that varies from hotel to hotel. Some hotels require pets to be leashed or in a carrier. One hotel I stayed at would not let pets walk through the lobby. Make sure to know where you may be required to enter the building with your pet.
Pets Left Unattended in Hotel Rooms: Most hotels require someone to be in the room at all times. Some hotels may not have this policy or may have a policy stating the pet can be left alone for under an hour.
Pet Fees: When it comes to pet fees, most chains do not have a standard policy. First check the website and next call to confirm. This helps with avoiding anything unexpected. Some hotels have refundable fees, while others are non-refundable. Even in the same chain, I found different pet deposits and cleanings fees.
Some hotels charged $25 a night, while others in the same chain charged $75 a night. Other hotels charged non-refundable cleaning fees of $100. Then I came across one hotel that charged nightly fees and a cleaning fee. It’s really important to know the fees ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.
La Quinta was one chain that I encountered that did not charge a pet fee at any of the properties I stayed at. Supposedly there are handful of La Quinta properties that do charge a fee, which is why I recommend calling hotels before booking.
In the Hotel Room
If you let your cat out in the room, make sure to know where your cat can hide (under the bed, behind furniture, A/C units). I personally did not let my cat out in the room. A few hotels had some mystery openings under the beds and the bedframes could not be moved. I just wasn’t taking a chance with my cat becoming stuck.
Instead of letting my cat roam the room, I used a Play Pen for my cat. This made cleanup easier and she seemed content hiding in her own space. I discussed the Play Pen in more detail in Part 1.
As noted above, make sure you or someone you are traveling with is in the room at all times. Almost all hotels have a policy stating someone must be in the room when a pet is present. This of course makes it difficult for meals. Often times I had to pack up my cat and find a drive through, or one person would go grab take out. One hotel we could order delivery pizza, which made dinner simple. Check to see if the front desk can recommend any delivery services.
Hiding your Pet
I don’t recommend trying to hide your cat when checking into a hotel. Not only is that on the unethical side, you could get caught and kicked out. Who wants to try and find a new hotel room late in the evening?
Where I stayed
During my drive and move from Miami to Seattle, I stayed at 7 cat friendly hotels. I did end up switching plans twice when I made great time. Luckily two of the properties I selected had 6 PM cancellation on the same day as check-in. I ended up changing hotels and driving quite a bit further both times.
Here are all the hotels I stayed at, plus the 2 properties I was able to cancel last minute:
- Candlewood Smyrna – As of May 2017, the pet fee is waived for Platinum Elite members of IHG
- Best Western Gainesville
- Best Western Ogden
- Best Western Valdosta
- Holiday Inn Express St. Louis Riverport
- La Quinta Cheyenne
- La Quinta Ft. Lauderdale
- La Quinta Kansas City (near the airport)
- La Quinta Kennewick
Have you traveled with your cat before? What are your cat friendly hotel travel tips?