Staying at a Hotel or Airbnb (With a Cat)

If you are going on an overnight trip somewhere with your cat, chances are you’ll be looking at staying at a hotel or airbnb. This guide will go over how to book a pet friendly room, and preparations for an overnight stay.

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Booking the room

In most hotel search engines, you will be able to filter for “Pet Friendly”. However, not all pet friendly hotels are created equal. There are a few things to look out for:

  • Pet charges
    Hotels will usually charge you a cost per pet, per night. It can vary but in my experience its around $25 per night.
  • Pet restrictions
    Hotels will sometimes have policies for pets, such as “pets cannot be left unattended in the room“, or “no pets on furniture“. You’ll want to know the restrictions when making your decision.
  • Pet friendly or Dog friendly?
    Some hotels will be labeled “Pet friendly“, and then in the small print, they will specify that they only allow dogs. Make sure the place mentions cats are allowed, or all pets.
  • Pet friendly features
    Some hotels simply label a few of their regular rooms as pet friendly, while others actually make some adjustments for pets. Some examples include:
    • Non carpeted floor
      With cats, I prefer to have a non-carpeted floor. Carpet might encourage them to scratch at it, and it becomes more difficult to clean if you set up a litter box on the carpeted floor. Not to mention, the carpets are always filthy, and cats like to lie around.
    • Blocked access under beds and furniture
      Cats like to hide and explore, but I really prefer them not getting under the beds and other pieces of furniture. Those places are rarely cleaned, and might have all kinds of nastiness under there. Plus, it might be difficult to get them back out once they decide to explore under the bed.
    • Window access
      This one is less important, but cats usually like to look out the windows. If the window has a ledge for them to sit on, they will be happier.
    • Scratch resistant furniture
      To cats, scratching is like stretching. Its very natural. Even the most behaved cats may accidentally nick the furniture when running across. Avoid leather if possible, as it shows scratches very obviously.
Teddy at the hotel lobby of a pet friendly hotel

When booking the room, make sure to add in the notes that you will be bringing a cat. You don’t want to be turned away when you get there! For hotels, I will say something like “I am bringing a cat.” For airbnb, I will say something like “I am traveling with a cat who is well behaved and I will be bringing everything he needs including his scratching pad, litter box, and bowls.”

Don’t try to hide your cat and go anyways, if the hotel doesn’t allow cats. The hotel has a policy for a reason (even if it makes no sense to us). They have the right to deny your stay, or kick you out, and it looks really bad for other cat owners who may want to stay at the hotel chain in the future.


What to bring to the hotel

What you bring to the hotel will really depend on how light you are travelling – if you have space in your car, or if you are restricted by flight luggage limits. I usually like to pack relatively light, but comfortable for both me and Teddy.

Packing list for a 2 night stay

Here is what I would typically bring for Teddy:

  • Backpack & fuzzy blanket
    This doubles as his bed because he likes to curl up inside it. I keep a fuzzy blanket inside the backpack for extra comfort
  • Travel Litter Box
    I will either bring a foldable litter box, or plastic container with a lid, depending on how minimal I am packing. (See Outdoor Potty Guide)
  • Litter scoop, small dustpan, poop bags
    This is for cleaning the litter clumps, as well as sweeping away any mess he made while digging around.
  • Flat cardboard scratching pad
    To discourage him from scratching any of the furniture, I bring a scratching pad for him. The flat ones are great since they can pack easily in a bag or suitcase.
  • Stainless steel food dish & collapsible food bowl
    The stainless steel is great for raw food, and the collapsible one is great for on the go.
  • Sponge and detergent in a travel size bottle
    For washing his food bowls.
  • Food Puzzle (optional)
    Sometimes I will bring a food puzzle to keep Teddy entertained, if I know I might have to leave him alone in the hotel room for a while. I don’t always bring one.
  • Toys
    Cats are known to have zoomies, and its better if you bring something for them to direct their energy at. Sometimes I will bring a catnip toy, or if I’m packing really light, a laser pointer is great. (note: laser pointers are not a great toy for cats long term because it messes with their mind, but for a night or two its fine)
  • Food
    For travel I usually like to bring freeze dried raw, because it does not require refrigeration. Hotel rooms will usually have a mini fridge and microwave, so I sometimes also bring regular wet food, and portion it into 3 meals. I find the freeze dried nuggets easiest to bring.
    I also bring a container of kibbles, as this is his lunch time meal.
  • Treats
    Treats are a essential for Teddy whenever we go anywhere. I will usually bring a couple of the Churu creamy treats, as well as some hard treats like Greenies.
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
    A vacation is no excuse to stop brushing their teeth! Teddy gets a nightly brushing so I will bring these too.
  • Leash & harness
    Self explanatory, he uses this whenever he goes anywhere.
  • Collar & ID tag
    I don’t always put this on him, but in case he runs out of the room, and someone finds him, they will be able to call me.
  • Bluetooth tracker
    I have been using the Tile but I am planning on switching to the Apple AirTags (see our Review of the Apple AirTag). Both work similarly, it is a bluetooth range tracker (around 100ft), which you can use your phone to ping. I put this on him incase he slips out of the room, or if he didn’t, but is hiding somewhere in the room. I can use the tracker to locate him quickly. I will attach the tracker to his collar.

Staying at the hotel

The fun part! Staying at the hotel. I find that Teddy (and most other cats I’ve seen) are happy to explore hotel rooms, since its a new and exciting place that feels quiet and safe.

Teddy lounging at an airbnb

Some tips to make your hotel stay easier:

  • Use your carrier / backpack as a bed
    No need to bring a separate bed, since your carrier or backpack can double as a bed.
  • Set up the litter box in the washroom and use a towel as a litter mat (or bring your own)
    You’ll want to set up the litter box in a space without carpet, so the litter that falls out is easy to clean. In hotels I will place a towel under the litter box to catch any litter that gets kicked out, and usually works pretty well.
  • Set up the scratching pad in an obvious location
    Make sure your cat knows where the scratcher is located, so they will know to scratch there instead of the furniture.
  • Keep the collar on, with tags and tracker
    To prevent any scares of losing your cat, having the tag and tracker on at all times will give you the peace of mind. You’ll be able to ensure that the cat is still in the room, and didn’t sneak out.
  • Set up a water dish
    In case your cat gets thirsty, set up a water dish that is easily accessible. I usually like to place it on the window sill.
  • Bring your cat for a walk or have play sessions
    Since your cat will be sleeping in the same room as you at night, if they’re extra energetic they might keep you up. To prevent this, take them on a long walk or have a long play session to tire them out before bed.
  • Put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door
    The sign will tell the hotel staff not to enter your room during the day. This is important, in case your cat likes to dash out the door.
  • Don’t leave your cat alone, if possible
    Even if they are happy exploring the hotel, it is still a new place to them and they will feel nervous being left alone. Try to minimize the time you leave them alone in the room.

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