11 purrr-fect steps to keep your pets from feeling ruff during a big house move
Moving house can be challenging at the best of times, ranking as one of the most stressful events you can endure in your lifetime. Throw in the added complication of moving with pets and your move may resemble a living nightmare. Fortunately though, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your move is smooth – all it takes is a little preparation.
In this article, we have compiled the ultimate moving with pets checklist, covering everything you need to know about how to move with a cat or dog. To make life even easier, we have divided the checklist into three sections: before moving, during and after.
How to move with a cat or dog
We love our furry companions. If only we could sit down with our cat or dog and have a nice talk about the big move and how there’s nothing for them to worry about. That the pandemonium of moving house would soon be over, and before long they’ll have a lovely new home, garden and neighbourhood to explore. But unfortunately, unless you are able to talk with the animals like a certain famous doctor, it’s a conversation we’re not able to have.
So, how to move with a cat or dog in tow?
Whilst explaining to your pet about your decision to move house might be a little tricky (although you are free to give it a go), you can at least make sure your beloved cat or dog is comfortable throughout the moving process. Let’s take a look at some of the simple measures you can put in place when moving with a cat or dog.
Before The Move
Stick to a familiar routine
The key to success when moving with a cat or dog is to make the transition as seamless as feasibly possible. Pets, especially cats and dogs, are creatures of habit and are highly sensitive to change. They will be able to sense the growing chaos around them, which may negatively affect their behaviour. Moving house is stressful enough for us humans, so the last thing you want is excessive barking, sofa scratching and anxious pacing around the house. Animals have relatively simple pleasures in life, they like sleep, walks and affection. Try and keep their usual walking, grooming and feeding times as consistent as you can.
Get in touch with your vet
Moving with pets to a new area may mean you will need to source a new vet. Speak with your current vet to find out if they are able to recommend any in your area, and be sure to get a copy of your pet’s medical records, along with any prescription medications. Request if you can collect a surplus of medication in case there is any delay signing up with the new veterinary practice.
Think about what to include in your pet’s overnight bag
Pets have a six sense for when something is not right, and moving house is especially stressful for intelligent animals like cats and dogs. The best way to alleviate some of that stress is to make an effort to ensure your pet is comfortable. You can do this by mimicking your pet’s everyday environment by putting together an overnight bag. Pack your cat or dog’s favourite toys and bedding, but try to resist cleaning your pets blankets and toys too close to the move as they will be more calm if they can be close to their own scent. Include treats, dry food, medication, litter and grooming instruments in the overnight bag too.
Don’t pack your pet’s overnight bag too early
When moving with a dog, make a note of what’s needed in your pet’s overnight bag, rather than physically packing the items. Dogs are hypersensitive to change, especially anything involving their favourite toy, so will be immediately aware that something’s not right. Try and leave the physical packing of the bag to the last minute on moving day.
Bring in moving boxes and packing materials early
When moving with a cat or dog, try and bring in the materials you need to pack up your house early on. Pets need time to adjust, so if you have the luxury of time on your side this will ensure your cat or dog can adjust to the change in environment gradually, rather than a big upheaval all in one go. Too much change too soon could result in your pet displaying behavioural issues, such as going to the toilet on the carpet or becoming restless and anxious during the night.
Get your pet used to being inside a vehicle and a crate
Pets rarely spend time in crates or cars beyond trips to the dreaded, let’s spell it out in case any of our little furry friends are listening, V-E-T. So when moving with cats and dogs, in the weeks or months leading up to your move, prepare your pet for moving by encouraging them to eat their food inside a crate first with the door open, then closed. You can also try walking with your pet inside the crate around the house and on short drives. Incorporate the crate into your pet’s playtime, rewarding them with treats in order for your pet to develop a positive association with the crate.
During The Move
Keep your pet safe and away from the action
Cats and/or dogs + movers = a very bad combination. Dogs have a tendency to get excited and under the movers feet when they’re carrying heavy items, and cats can be flighty and move unpredictably when scared or startled. Did you ever hear the one about the curious cat? Well, let’s just say it didn’t end well. When moving with a cat or dog, it’s best to keep them safe and out the way, ideally at a friend’s place or in a kennel/cattery. Failing that, empty a room for them and close the door, or keep them in a crate in a quiet part of your home. Take care to check the temperature is safe, and they have plenty of water and food as they could be there for some time. Keep them calm by leaving them their favourite toy and blanket for comfort. Be sure to check on them at regular intervals, and where possible, take your dog out for a walk at the time you normally would.
Take your pet in the vehicle with you
In the first section of this checklist we advise you to get your cat or dog used to a crate and travelling in a car. This of course will make the trip on moving day much easier for them, as they will have had time to adjust to being in the create and won’t panic as much when the door is closed. Be sure to have their overnight bag in the car with you too, along with your pet’s favourite toy and blanket. Cats and small dogs can be secured safely in a crate on the back seat with a seat belt, whilst larger dogs in kennels may need to be secured in the tailgate with the back seats down. Some pets prefer for a blanket to be put over their crate whilst in transit.
Keep your pet in a crate until you arrive
When moving with a dog or cat, even if they are very well behaved or docile, it’s always advisable for them to remain in the crate and not be free to roam around inside the car. This is both for safety reasons, in case you have to brake suddenly, and also in case they make a bolt for it when the car door is open and get lost in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. It is best not to open the crate at all until they are in their new home.
After The Move
Update your pet’s information
After you move you should make sure your pet’s information is up to date. If you’ve moved to a new area, your cat or dog’s microchip will need to be updated with your current address and contact telephone number. Register with a new veterinary practice to arrange for the microchip to be updated. If your pet wears a tag on their collar, make sure the correct address and contact information is on there too.
Get your pet settled in your new home
When moving with a dog or cat, it’s a good idea to keep them in a crate for a couple of days when you first arrive at your new home as they need time to adjust to their surroundings. In an unfamiliar setting, pets can become stressed and run away, trying desperately to find their old home and neighbourhood they knew so well. Dogs tend to adapt quicker than cats as cats are much more territorial. Make sure if you are planning on letting your dog out into the garden that the fencing is dog proof, limiting any chance of escape. Keep your pet in an empty room with the doors closed to begin with, then slowly introduce your pet to the rest of the house. Keep the room as their “safeplace”, and include their favourite toys, comfortable blankets, food and water.
Can I Get A Big Paw For All Our Furry Friends Out There?
Moving house can be a stressful and challenging time, but with the right measures in place, it doesn’t have to be for our furry friends. Pets give us so much joy, and all they really want in return is our love and affection. Taking time to consider our cats and dogs relatively simple needs makes a big scary change much more manageable for them. Don’t forget, they have no idea what’s going on. Our pets are only aware that their environment and routine is in upheaval, and they often don’t react to such changes well. Predicting potential behavioural changes in our pets allows us to manage the situation and work on solutions to keep them happy.