With our fuzzy children in tow, we have finished the cross-country drive portion of our final few weeks in the USA. Though Kenny and I have road tripped quite a bit together, this was the first time we had traveled with all three of our cats. Five years ago when we moved to Las Vegas, we had Ophelia (Fifi) and ‘enjoyed’ sneaking her into various motels; not too hard to do with just the one. This time around with three fuzz heads, we had to search out a more legitimate way to travel to avoid getting stuck on the road with no place to sleep.
It turns out, traveling with cats is a bit more complicated than having Fido along for the ride. For one, dogs are pretty happy to camp with you if you are so inclined. Secondly, if looking for a bed, dog friendly hotels/motels are pretty well guaranteed about anywhere. I was surprised by the number of motels (chains and one-offs) that I called that were more than happy to have any number/type of dog but were adament that a cat not step paw into their establishment. For some of those that did, the fees charged to have your four legged family member stay, (dog or cat) meant an increase in the per night room charge of 50% or more depending on the number of animals. In our case, the typical $10/pet/night charge meant our $45 room would then cost $75/night. Not exactly ideal when trying to adhere to a tight budget.
The best option we found for traveling with cats, or dogs for that matter, was Motel 6 — and no, this is not a sponsored add. Their rates were relatively cheap ($40-$50/night for the 2 of us), the rooms had wood-like flooring (hence claws, vomit or ‘accidents’ on the carpet were not a concern), and most importantly, no pet fees. As we took 8 days to make this trip, discovering this tip early saved us a minimum of $240 in unnecessary fees. Another chain which proved to have a good pet policy was the Ramada. Though the rooms in general were more expensive (no Motel 6 option that night), they were dog and cat friendly and had a refundable $25 pet deposit assuming no damage was done.
All in all, the kitties proved to be more adaptable to travel than we initially anticipated. Though the start of the drive was a bit rocky, the kitties settled in pretty quickly to hotel living. On the first night of driving, we learned that we would have to limit the length of our daily drives to about an 8-9 hour max. We had tried at first to take regular breaks to let a cat out (one at a time) in the car to use the litter box. As Fifi was pretty wound up the first day, that plan turned into a 40 minute stand off in a gas station parking lot. She decided wedging herself under the driver’s seat foot pedals was the most reasonable space to occupy and was willing to defend it tooth and claw. For those of you that have heard Fifi at her vet visits, enough said. For those of you who haven’t had that pleasure, imagine a 9 pound, calico Cujo.
Eventually, we did manage to get her back in the box and ultimately she did settle down by about the 3rd day. It turned out the constant change over the course of that week proved to be a perfect introduction to their new home and lessened the stress of introducing all 6 kitties; our 3 versus the Siamese clan. Why mom and dad decided to allow 6 cats to live in their home for the next eighteen months, I’ll never know. By the time we arrived, the ‘kids’ were so accustomed to having a new home each night that they just walked in, curled up on the couch and took a nap. Within a few days, all six cats were interacting in relative peace. I imagine by the time we get back, we will become the intruders invading their happy little home.