Traveling with Your Cat: Accommodations

 |  Jun 5th 2009  |   1 Contribution


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Even if you don't want to limit yourself by making reservations ahead of time, it's still a good idea to research where you are most likely to find pet accommodations, and what the fees (if any) are before you hit the road.

Clarify the Policies and Fees Upfront
Fees and policies can vary widely, even between hotel properties within the same chain. Knowing the right questions to ask can save you time, money and frustration.

Pet Policies: Some only allow small dogs (some limit the size to as small as 10 lbs. or less) or limit the number of pets to one or two. Some have only a limited number of specially-designated rooms for guests with pets (check them out before you check in to ensure those rooms don't smell like kennels). Some (a few of the Staybridge Suites properties, for example) only permit cats who have been declawed (hissssss!).

Many hotels prohibit you from leaving your pet unattended in the room. Some luxury hotels offer petsitting services in the event you must leave Fluffy alone for any reason.

Cleaning Fees and Pet Deposits: Many hotels impose a cleaning fee and/or a deposit that may or may not be refundable. These fees can be astronomical (I've seen $350+ non-refundable fees). Sometimes this is based on length of stay; sometimes it's a per-night charge. One hotel charges a $500 infestation fee if they subsequently need to flea bomb the room. Is it any wonder people are tempted to sneak in their pets?

Here are some tips on avoiding rude surprises:

  • Make sure you clarify the terms of the fees and deposits before you check in.
  • If the fee is refundable, be sure you understand whether it's a hold against your credit card that's released when you check out, or if it's charged to your card and refunded at a later date.
  • If you're subject to a refundable cleaning/damage deposit, inspect the room carefully as soon as you check in and report any existing damage to ensure you won't be charged for it later. When checking out, have the manager inspect the room and sign off on it in your presence.

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HOW TO FIND PET-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS

Some chains, like Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn and La Quinta Inns & Suites* are truly pet-friendly and allow small pets with no additional fees or deposit required.

As part of their ongoing commitment to pet-friendliness, Motel 6 has recently partnered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) to offer AKC and CFA registered dog and cat owners a 10% discount on their room rates at any Motel 6 or Studio 6 location across the U.S. and Canada. For a complete list of Motel 6 locations across the country and to view the full Motel 6 Pet Policy, visit www.motel6.com.

The following chains have some pet friendly properties. Click a link to view the pet policies for specific hotels on the tripswithpets.com website:


LUXURY ACCOMMODATIONS
If you're planning a 5-star vacation,

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check out LuxuryPaw.com. PAW purrvides the only curated collection of luxury, (4-star or higher rated) pet-friendly hotels available online.

Many luxury hotels offer pet-friendly services, including a "pet amenity" upon check-in, a pet concierge and petsitting/walking services. Some take it a step further. W Hotels, for example, pampers pets with luxurious custom pet beds and other amenities, such as floor mats, food bowls, ID tags, and more.

Some do not charge extra for pets while others charge significant premiums, so it pays click around the LuxuryPaw.com site to compare pet policies among the hotels at your destination.

Several luxury chains (Four Seasons and W, for example) accept pets on all properties, although fees and deposits will vary. If you're a luxury travel aficionado, keep these chains in mind when you travel with your cat.


RESOURCES FOR PET TRAVEL INFO

Several websites provide extensive info on pet-friendly hotels, motels, and B&Bs. These include:

AFTER YOU'VE BOOKED THE ROOM...

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Once you find a hotel, be sure to take precautions to ensure that your cat is secure and comfortable inside:

Do Not Disturb: Immediately upon checking in to your room, hang out the Do Not Disturb sign, and leave it there for the length of your stay. If you're staying at the same hotel for several days, you can exchange towels with the maids each morning. Leave your cat in her carrier anytime you're not in the room. If you're gone for long periods, this will be neither feasible nor comfortable for your cat, so if you foresee doing so, bring along a portable crate or cage for that purpose. Don't forget, many hotels prohibit leaving your cat unattended in the room.

Wait to Un-Crate: Use a carrier to transport your cat from the car to your room. Bring all of your luggage to the room before you un-crate Fluffy, so she isn't running around while you're coming and going. Set up her litter box, and put a garbage bag or newspaper beneath it to catch errant litter.

Check the Boxspring: Many traveling cats will head straight for the bed and hide beneath it. As Kimberly suggested in Wednesday's post, it's good to check out the boxspring before you un-crate the cats and make sure they can't burrow into it.

Feed at Her Own Pace: Put down some dry food and water to see if Fluffy is interested in it. She may need an hour or two to acclimate to her new environment before she's relaxed enough to eat. (Skeezix immediately needs to patrol the place to ensure it's safe for us to stay there.) If that's the case, don't pop open a can of wet food until she shows interest in eating.

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Make Time for Playtime:If you're able to pry her out from under the bed, set aside some time to play with your cat. This will help expend pent-up energy and relax her. If she's leash trained and there's a quiet area nearby, take her for a walk. Make sure that you don't take her in areas that the hotel has designated as off-limits for pets.

Don't Forget to Log In:

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If your cat is a Catster or has a blog, be sure to set up your laptop so that she can devote some time to her online activities. Maintaining normal routines helps reduce travel stress.

Leave a Good Impression:Even if you've paid a cleaning deposit, clean up your cat's messes before you leave. Leaving the hotel management with a good impression of its feline guests ensures that cat-friendly accommodations will continue to be available and affordable for everyone in the future.

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* According to a La Quinta Inns spokesperson, "99%" of their properties are pet-friendly.

For more information on traveling with your cat, check out Catster's Forum on Cats & Travel.


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