tips for moving with pets

Tips for Moving with Pets

Consider how stressful moving can be for people.  The to-do lists, the logistics, the fear of the unknown can be overwhelming.  Now, imagine how stressful it can be for your pets.  Your furry companions can get anxious when they are introduced to a new environment.

Since pets can be resistant to change, having them move with you is no easy task. Below is a list of suggestions to help make the move easier. It should be noted that cats and dogs have different needs, so there are tips for both.  

Before the Move

For Cats:  Cats really prefer to stay in a familiar environment.  They are quite sensitive to change and you need to consider that before doing anything else.  So, the first thing you want to do is get your cat used to his/her pet carrier.  Cats will feel safer in the carrier when they are traveling.  Prepare the carrier for your cat by putting a blanket inside, along with some cat treats.  Leave the door open at first, and don’t rush it. 

Patience is key.  

Once it seems like your cat is used to the carrier, get him/her used to travel.  Start with a short 10-minute car ride, and then increase the time to 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc.… Hopefully, as your cat gets used to the sights and sounds associated with car travel, his/her anxiety will start to decrease.  Leave the carrier out in the open as your move approaches.  Let the kitty explore it and sniff around.

Moving With Dogs

Dogs tend to experience less anxiety around moving, but they also like to stick to a schedule, and moving will upset the schedule. If your move is local try to get the dog out for a walk in the new neighborhood.  This will get them used to the scents of the new neighborhood.  Do not crate your dog when you are packing, it will make the dog feel isolated.  Let the dog sniff around the boxes and be curious. 

Moving Day

For Cats: On moving day find the right place for your cat to be, so he/she is not in the way of all the moving activity..  If it is a pleasant mild day, the cat can go into the carrier and placed into your car with the windows open.  If it is cold or hot on moving day, consider putting your cat into the bathroom, with the door closed.  Make sure you provide food, water, toys and the litter box. 

For Dogs:  If you can, try to find a dog-loving friend who can take them for the day.  If that is not an option, assign a member of your family to be the designated dog sitter on moving day.  This person is in charge of keeping the dog away from the moving activity. 

Also remember to have your pets wear collars with up to date rabies tags, and current phone numbers and addresses.  

The New Home

For Cats:  Before you allow your cat to go into the new house, make sure you take care of any safety hazards.  Beware of any dangling cords from blinds, and keep all windows and doors closed to ensure their safety.

Your cat might make itself scarce for a few days.  You may find your cat underneath the bed or in a closet, and that is their way of finding a safe space.  You might have to coax them out from their hiding space to eat meals and use the litter box.  As time passes, your cat will find a space in the new house that feels safe.  Encourage the cat to explore at its own time and be patient.  Soon, the new house will seem less scary, and your cat will be back to its old self. 

For Dogs: Dogs will appreciate getting back to a regular routine as soon as possible. Take walks at established times, and keep meal times the same as well.  If you can, take a few days to spend at home with your dog to help them get used to the new house. 

Do not leave your dog outside, unattended during the adjustment period.  Dogs have been known to jump fences or dig holes underneath fences to try to find their old homes.  As times passes, try to leave the dog home for short periods of time to help them get used to the new environment.

After the Move

After you get over the adjustment period, make sure to find your pet a reputable veterinarian so you can keep them current on vaccinations and wellness check-ups.   

Your pet has its own unique personality, and because of this there is no one right way to help your pet adjust to a move.  You know your pet better than anyone else, so trust your instincts about how the transition is going.  If after time, your pet still seems skittish, talk to your vet about any concerns.