Evacuating with Your Cat to a Hotel

On Friday we decided to evacuate and move to a hotel in our area. The projected track of Hurricane Harvey has been more unpredictable than any hurricane I’ve ever seen and, with our location beside a creek (and no way out other than driving across that creek), we decided to evacuate.

Although we often travel with our dogs Irie and Tiki, Lucky and Inca are homebodies and have never been to a hotel. That, coupled with the loss of Ochi on Friday morning, made me really nervous about how they’d handle hotel life for a few days.

I need not have worried.

Lucky and Inca have both done SO much better than I dared hope. We made the decision to leave fairly quickly so here’s a list of cat essentials that I packed:

  • cat carriers
  • Cats Incredible litter (it’s even more important than at home not to have an ammonia smell in the hotel room)
  • two small litterboxes
  • a litter scoop
  • two pop-up crates we have for the dogs. They have a zippered flap so a pet can be enclosed inside or the flap can be unzipped, as we’ve done, to use as a cat restroom.
  • cat food and treats
  • 3 water bowls (we use silicone cake pans)
  • our cats’ favorite toy (currently a catnip-stuffed banana)
  • paper towels
  • two small bath rugs
  • urine remover
  • empty trash bags
  • a pair of scissors

We fed the cats before leaving for the hotel, just in case they were too frightened to eat once we arrived. John stayed with the cats and dogs in the car while I checked us in then we took all the pets to the room.

I left the cats in their carriers while John was coming and going to unload the car. He was hurrying to beat the rain so I knew we’d be opening and closing the hotel door frequently. I put their carriers in a quiet corner of the room and let them just rest.

In the meantime, I set up the popup carriers, one for each cat. Beneath each one I put a plastic bag (I used the scissors to cut open a large trash bag), just in case of water or urine spills. I put a litterbox and a water bowl in each crate, along with a small bath rug. I then moved the cats from their carriers to the crates. I left the carriers unzipped so they could hang out in the carrier if they felt safer there.

My plan was to put one cat in each of the crates, at least for the first day until they adjusted to the hotel. Well, after half an hour in the crates, it was clear–very clear–both Inca and Lucky wanted OUT.

I’d spent the half hour cat-proofing the room, making sure there were no voids behind furniture, the air-conditioner unit, the bathroom vanity, etc. My one concern was the dresser/mini-refrigerator unit which was pushed out from the wall about six inches. Since all the plugs were back there, I couldn’t push the entire unit flush with the wall, so I improvised by stuffing the bed bolster in the opening on one end and a box of Cokes at the other end.

We unzipped the crates and opened the flaps to let Lucky and Inca out as they chose–and they both instantly chose to get out and explore the room. We opened the curtains so they could look out, and the window sill proved to be one of their favorite spots in the room.

Our room has a rolling table which became the cat feeding station (to keep the dogs out of the cat food). I moved the room’s coffee table between the bed and the table, covering it with the bath mat from home, to make it easier for Inca (who has a little arthritis) to access either the bed or the table.

With the crates unzipped, we eventually decided to combine both litterboxes in one crate and fold up the other crate so we’d have some more floor space.

When we leave the room, one of us stays with the cats at all times (I’m so afraid a maid might open the door otherwise).  We also keep the security lock on the door at all times so don’t have to worry about a maid accidentally opening the door while we’re here. We take turns getting our breakfast downstairs (thank you for the great free buffet, La Quinta!) and walking the dogs. Both cats love to hang out with their dog sisters so we worry that they’ll try to follow them out in the hall.

The cats have adjusted remarkably well to the hotel room, even at a time when we are so stressed. Lucky has been busy playing with shoestrings…

…and at night both he and Inca love to sit and watch the traffic lights, a real change from their usual view in our country home.

Tomorrow morning we’ll hopefully pack up and head back home. Our creek should be down by then; we moved our security cameras to watch the creek on our phones and there’s no major debris in the way so we know the creek didn’t reach the house, which is great news.

In this small room, we have really put Cats Incredible litter to the test–we’ve never been eating, sleeping and just living around the clock right by the litterboxes–and I’m happy to say we have had NO ammonia smell. We’re so happy about that fact (and know the hotel will be, too!)

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  1. Kimberley Jumper says:

    Where did you get the pop up tents?

    • I’ve had them forever (they’re dog crates); I saw the other day that they sell them at Walmart for about $15-20 in the different sizes. They’re so nice because they fold totally flat when you don’t need them and they’re super lightweight. I wouldn’t trust them to contain a cat outdoors because the sides are just parachute material but they worked GREAT in the hotel!

  2. YOU are incredible! Don’t think I am nuts but I had tears in my eyes reading this. I am so happy the kitties adjusted so well (that first photo cracked me up!!) RELAXED doesn’t even cover it! lol. YOU THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING…….you are such an amazing pet parent. I am so sorry you had to experience this, but now, you and John should work on a new book “Disaster Preparedness for Pets.” I pinned this post……….you are so resilient and resourceful. With all of the pain/sadness you were going through, I do not know how you were able to think straight. I am praying you are now home, safe and sound. The camera was also brilliant so you could see things before heading back. (((hugs))) to all of you!


  1. […] be evacuated into the public conference areas. We packed popup crates that fold completely flat and used them for our cats’ litterboxes during our hotel […]

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