Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Comfort Away From Home

Have you ever gone on a road trip with your cat and stayed in a hotel? We haven't yet, but we have some wonderful cat blogging friends who brought their cats on their first road trip and stayed in a hotel at the recent BlogPaws conference. We reached out to them for tips and to share their experiences.

Truffle in the comfort of her Sleepypod® Mobile Pet Bed





Mom Paula wishes she'd worked with us when we were kittens to be comfortable traveling with her, but she was so busy with work that she never had the time. She's hoping to eventually harness train us and to travel with us some in the future. She recently attended the BlogPaws conference in Kansas City and was surprised at the number of cats who attended the conference. We thought it would be a nice idea to interview Mom Jeanne from Random Felines and Mom Julie from Cats Herd You about their experiences taking Chanel and Cupcake on their first road trip and staying at a hotel at the conference. Julie and Jeanne also run a blog called Cats Going Places where they provide information on traveling with your cats around the city.


Chanel checking out the litter boxes in the hotel room
Photo used with permission from Cats Going Places

What’s the first thing you set up when taking your cat(s) into a strange room, such as a hotel room?

Julie: The first thing is the litter box anywhere I go with any cat. I figure if they know where that is, they will find the rest in time. For this hotel stay, Jeanne arrived ahead of me and had one set up, but I poured the litter Cupcake was familiar with into a second litter box immediately, since she had been away from a box for over 5 hours for our flight. 


Jeanne: Her stuff in the bathroom - litter box, water dish, food dish. Then I let her out in there with the door closed and put out her other things and got my stuff unpacked so I didn't have to worry about her getting into anything. 


What type of setup do you use when in a hotel room?

Julie: Litter boxes go in the bathroom, unsurprisingly. I liked having Cupcake's Sleepypod Atom carrier in the bedroom section of the hotel room so she could hang out in there if she chose, but if I had to lock her up in the bathroom for any reason, I would have put her carrier in there with her. I fed Cupcake in the bathroom, which I would not normally do, since cats prefer not to eat near their litter, but we needed the door to separate her and Chanel at meal time to prevent them poaching each other's bowls. 

Jeanne: I used a Nature's Miracle disposable litter pan. And made sure to take the same kind of litter that she uses at home. Litter boxes in the bathroom are the best way to go - the floor is easier to clean up when litter gets tracked. 


Cupcake and Chanel getting acclimated to their room through familiar items
Photo used with permission from Cats Herd You


What do you do to help your cat(s) become acclimated to the new room?

Julie: I make sure there are familiar things so Cupcake has a sense of "place". That was extra-important when we arrived in a hotel room already occupied by another cat. I used her Sleepypod Cloudpuff Blanket that we take everywhere with her as a little "home base" on one of the beds. She often curled up on it to nap during the day when we were out, and at night, I moved it to to the side of the bed, where she slept on it next to me. It really is her security blanket! The first day, I also made a gap between the pillows for her to hang out in. Her little pillow fort let her feel like she was sheltered while also allowing her to see the rest of the room. 

Jeanne: It is all about familiar things. I had her Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed on the floor and her stroller set up so she could get in whichever one made her more comfortable. I brought a couple of her favorite toys and a scratcher for her to use (she likes to lounge on them). I don't use a pheromone diffuser at the house, but I plan to pack one in her box to have for the future. 

What are the challenges of staying in a hotel room?


Julie: Hotel rooms aren't designed with cats in mind! Even in pet-friendly hotels, you need to think about cats getting places where you can't easily reach her. It's a good idea to get down on your hands and knees and look, especially under and around the bed and around those big dressers they put in rooms. You can probably block a lot of those off with pillows. Also, think like a cat and check behind the drapes for hiding places. Some drapes in hotel rooms are made to go into their own little crevices that are perfect for hiding cats. If you can spot the likely hiding places ahead of time, it can help if your cat gets scared and you can't find her later. 

Jeanne: Space and smell. It doesn't smell like home and that can make cats nervous. Julie brought a blanket from home for Cupcake and that is something I hadn't thought about. I plan to start doing that now even on short trips. The other thing is space...it can be much smaller quarters then being at home. The other thing that people don't think about are the weird places that cats can get themselves into. Mainly under beds - last year at Blog Paws we found the kittens under the box spring more than once. I try to look and see about this before letting Chanel (or kittens) out of the bathroom the first time, but it can be hard to block every possible entry and exit.

Jeanne used both a harness and a pet stroller for Chanel when out of the hotel room

What were your experiences this year at BlogPaws?

Julie: BlogPaws was a lot of fun for me and for Cupcake, too. We don't have a stroller yet, so whenever we left the room, Cupcake's trusty Sleepypod Atom carrier came with us. When the big world got to be too much, she could hang out in there a while. That's how I realized she had never seen a glass table. She was on the floor and spotted her carrier through the surface of one of the lobby's glass-topped coffee tables, and you could see her totally puzzled about why she could see it but not get to it. Cupcake enjoyed greeting people, and I know that a lot of my friends who had met her as a kitten the year before were excited to see her all grown up.  She is most confident when she is elevated, like on a cat tree and she had a great time holding court on a cat tree in the Cat Lounge during the conference. I can't give her a cat tree everywhere she goes, but I do think we'll be getting her a stroller to help her feel more elevated and confident. 


Jeanne: I think Chanel had a great time. It was interesting to see Chanel and Cupcake together again. I knew they wouldn't recognize each other as "sisters" but despite some hissing, they did remarkably well for two strange cats put together in a strange place. The nice part about a conference like Blog Paws is that most everyone is animal savvy. I did concentrate more on her than other things as she had to be my first priority - both from a safety and a comfort standpoint. 

Cupcake (formerly Dior) and her sibling Gucci at BlogPaws 2017


What’s the difference in traveling with kittens vs. adult cats? 
This question was asked because Jeanne usually brings kittens to the conference.

Julie: I haven't traveled with kittens of my own, but I have roomed with Jeanne during conferences where she brought kittens. One of the differences I noticed is their stamina outside the hotel room. They can't be away from the room for as long because they need to visit the litter box more often. You could take them out more times in a day, though. Cupcake was definitely past her limit when I tried to take her out a third time one day, and it was something we had done with kittens plenty of times. 

Jeanne: Kittens tend to be a little more "go with the flow" and less freaks them out. That said, Chanel has been pretty well socialized so she is OK with what went on at the conference. From a standpoint of things to take, the list is the same fortunately. The main part is that kittens are MUCH easier to carry around for periods of time. Luckily Chanel has a stroller and likes traveling in it, so I didn't have to carry her around.

Cupcake relaxing next to her Sleepypod Atom
Photo used with permission from Cats Herd You

Anything else you’d like us to know about staying in a hotel room?


Julie: This was Cupcake's first hotel visit as an adult, and she did a good job handling being in a new place. Giving her lots of experiences going to new places before we got there really helped her have some way to process it, so I would expect a lot more hiding to happen if you have a first-time hotel cat. Be patient and remember you can't push your cat past her limits for new things in one day! But there's nothing like having your cat snuggle up at you at night in a hotel room after a long day visiting with friends. It's a bonding experience, for sure! 

Jeanne: Take cleaning supplies and prepare for the worst. Maybe nothing will happen, but better to have more supplies and not need them than need them and not have them. Make sure that you leave the "do not disturb" sign on the room to keep housekeeping and other staff out to avoid escapes. The Sheraton in Kansas City actually had "pet in room" signs to hang up that let housekeeping know to stay out. Keep it fun...having toys on hand was a big deal and taking a scratcher she was familiar with made a huge difference. And just be aware - keep you eyes open for things in the room you may not initially notice. 

Various cats and their humans attending the BlogPaws 2018 Conference

Observations

Mom Paula: There seemed to be more cats in attendance at the BlogPaws conference that I remember from past years I've attended. My ultimate goal would be to take Truffle and/or Brulee one year, so I watched each of the cat bloggers with interest. Here are a few of my observations.

  • Have some type of carrier for the cats. I saw people with strollers, cat pouch carriers, carriers on wheels, and tote bags. Although many of the cats were very comfortable, they needed a place to get away from the energy of the conference.
  • Cats should be harnessed. There were several types of harnesses used on the cats, but all of them wore a harness. This provided a level of control if the cat became spooked by a noise, another cat, or a dog at the conference. 
  • The cat owners were very aware of the body language of their cats. They watched for tiredness, restlessness, irritability, and reactions to the environment around them.
  • An interesting observation was that none of the cat bloggers asked to hold any of the adult cats. We were all prepared to pet their soft fur if the owners felt the cats wanted it, but we didn't reach out to hold them (as much as some of us wanted to). We did hold the kittens in the Cat Lounge, but that's a different story.
  • The cats had numerous experiences being in different environments and around other people prior to attending the conference. I can't imagine anyone bringing an adult cat to a large conference without this prior experience.
  • Explore the Cat Lounge. It's fun to see all of the items in the Cat Lounge each year, but it's so much more interesting to see how the cats actually react to the trees, beds, and toys. The most popular items appeared to be the cat trees.

28 comments:

  1. This is all really great advice, and my human does pretty much most of it. I do want to say, I LOVE hotel rooms! They are some of my favorite things ever, and from what I've gathered, it's not an uncommon thing, especially with cats that have been acclimated to travel.

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  2. great article....it was interesting to see the girls and all the other cats at Blog Paws. It does make a HUGE difference to be at an event where the people are animal savvy.

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  3. I've "lost" my cat behind many a hotel room bed. I never thought of the drapes though o.o I'm about to add a one year old tiny girl to my travel posse and I know it will be a nightmare. My Persian LOVES to travel, he loves hotel rooms, he's fine in the car. It's all about 1-1 time with him and he knows it. He will probably hate having baby sister along too. I brought my 11 year old out for his first overnight in 8 years last month. The first night he was kind of wary. The second night he was all over it. Except at night - two beds, one of which he could have had all to himself and where did he sleep - on my face!

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  4. Great post, very interesting ! Purrs

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  5. What a great article, and your graphics look great! Our mom loved seeing Cupcake and Chanel at Blogpaws. There is some great advice here for people to follow.

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  6. This is great advice. We don't travel much either...only to the vet...but the mom tries to make it as less stressful for us as possible.

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  7. This is great! I want to see if I can get Ellie out and around - and this is a good starting point for how to make that happen. We LOVE the violet SleepyPod. LOVELOVELOVE. Our vet had never seen one before so I gave him the short sales-pitch. We are very lucky to have won one. Now to win a second ...

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  8. Awesome post! I would love to have the kind of cat who loves going places, but I don't. I do think it helps to start them young. I really had to laugh about the cats hiding in box springs because it brought back the memory of my trip from CA to MT. I stayed with my three cats in a motel one night, and I let them roam the room. The next morning, I had to dismantle the entire bed to get my cats out so we could leave! Then I had to put it all back together because I couldn't leave it like that. MOL.

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  9. Very nice post and with a lot of helpful information. Only one of my cats likes to travel the other three prefer to stay home. Even a visit to the vet is a challenge so it is good to learn of products that can help with keeping them calm and comfortable. I like that Sleepy Pod looks so nice.

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  10. It is useful to have so much sterling information on travelling cats. I think I would take a harness and litter tray as top priorities. Comfort and control - right? :-)

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    1. That's about right. I think the next item would definitely be something to carry them around the hotel (stroller, pouch, etc.)

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  11. I’ve never travelled with a kitty. Great information! I love Sleepypod so much. Such peace of mind.

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  12. What a great post! I have dreams of having a cat who can travel with me, but I doubt my current pair of 13-year-olds would appreciate the experience. :)

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    1. I have those same dreams. Truffle and Brulee will be 7 years old this summer and it may be too late for them.

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  13. I was told by a fellow cat traveller that she enjoys finding the spot the humans can't see her in ... and waiting there while they search for her frantically. Dogs come when called... just saying.

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  14. Great post, and I hope you share this before every BlogPaws (or other cat-friendly) event. It's helpful for those who do this for the first time, as well as reminders to the "pro travelers."

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    1. This is a great idea! I wanted to have the 3 posts within days of each other, but in the future I can share the 1 - preparing for the trip, 2 - on the road with a cat, and 3 - staying at the hotel.

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  15. I loved this post, it was so interesting and as I read it I kept saying to myself "no way would my cats have ever been able to do this!" The only time I've ever traveled with my cats was when I moved house in the same city or countries. They never could have handled staying in a hotel and certainly not attending a conference! The tips were great though and an enjoyable read!

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    1. I'm not sure my girls could handle it now, either.

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  16. Great tips and I also if I travelled with Layla I would sort her out first before me plus have a security blanket of some kind with me to make her feel comfortable

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  17. I've never been in a hotel room, myself. Peep #1 says I'm not a very good traveller and quite honestly, I have to agree. purrs

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  18. These are great tips! We've done some traveling with our cat, but not as much as our dogs. She hates the car, so she'd usually rather just stay home. When we do travel with her, we do a similar setup as the bloggers you interviewed. Glad you had a good time at the conference. Hope to see the cats there next year possibly!

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  19. With dogs, you too want to make sure they know where potty space is and how to get there. Second thing with Cookie is setting up her "travel" bed. She has this round bed which she doesn't even use all that much at home (some) but considers "home" when traveling anywhere.

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  20. I have never owned a cat, but I have heard that they hate to travel. It sounds like the sleepypod is a great item to have when traveling with your cat.

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  21. I've only had one cat, and he was not the traveling type, so this will be really helpful if I ever get another one.

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  22. It's interesting the difference between how I travel with my dogs and the considerations you need to have with a cat. I do think there are some similarities when I have travelled with a puppy however. They can get stuck in small spaces, need to go potty more, and generally take things in stride like kittens do. I love your advice though to not let a big conference like BlogPaws be the FIRST time a dog, cat, puppy or kitten travels like this. They need early socialization and we, as pet guardians, need to observe their behavior and body language at all times to be sure they are happy and comfortable.

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