Moving to a new home can be so exciting, but the move itself is a stressful, hassle-filled activity that no one enjoys. You and your family will make plans to get through the packing, moving, and unpacking as easily as possible. Everyone is in the know…except for your precious pets. They will be confused and upset by the flurry of activity with too many strange people, too many boxes, and unfamiliar surroundings. Help them make the transition to their new home by providing as many comforts as possible.
Preparing for your move
Make sure your cat or dog has a secure and up-to-date collar with identification tags. Having your pet microchipped is always the safest choice. In the event of the worst-case scenario and your anxious pet escapes, a happy reunion is much more likely with a microchip in place.
Keep your pet’s daily routine normal in the days before the move. Bedtime, feeding times, walks, and playtime should stay the same. Introduce boxes early so they seem like a regular part of the household, but watch out for chewing puppies. They’re a bad mix with tape dispensers, bubble wrap, and boxes!
Introduce your cat to a pet carrier early. Cats are not fond of being contained, so keep it in a quiet place with a few treats and favorite toys inside. Leave the door open so the cat can inspect it whenever she likes in the few weeks before the move. If the cat decides this is a cozy retreat, she may be more willing to stay safely inside during the bustle of moving day. Dogs are more content to stay in a small place, especially if they are already crate-trained. They, too, need familiar toys and their blanket inside the crate with them.
Cats and dogs will be unsettled during the hectic moving day no matter where they are in the house. You will be very busy, so watching over your furry friend will be difficult. Decide if your pet would be happier in a boarding facility during packing and unpacking. Perhaps a friend would be willing to take him for the day. You can wait until after the truck is unloaded before you bring him to his new home.
Traveling to the new address
If you are driving across town, your pet’s anxiety won’t last as long. Your dog probably loves a car ride anyway. If your cat is not a traveler, as most aren’t, keep her in the carrier which is buckled securely with a seatbelt or wedged safely with other boxes you are transporting in the backseat. For a long trip in the car, have all the essentials with you: food, water, bowls, treats, toys, chewies, leash, blanket, and kitty litter and box if you are staying in a hotel overnight. Resist the temptation to take the cat out of the carrier on the road. There is too high a risk that your panicky kitty could make a dash out an open door or window. As always, you can’t leave a pet in the car on a hot day when you stop for a break. If possible, take turns going inside to use the restroom, and go to restaurants with drive-up windows or curbside service for meals. Dogs need to be walked during your break times. Offer water to your pet, even though they might not be interested in it while you are on the road. If your pet hates to travel, you might want to consult your veterinarian about a mild sedative to keep them calmer on the trip.
Finding a place in your new home
Try to minimize your dog’s or cat’s anxiety as much as possible. Some pets will want to be near you all the time. Others may be more comfortable finding a quiet corner for a while. Be patient while they learn the new rooms in your home, figuring out the new sights and smells until the place feels like their own. Like you, they need time to adjust. Don’t be surprised if you hear more barking or whining, see lots of pacing, and changes in eating or “potty” routines. Eventually, it will all get back to normal.
If your dog is used to a doggy door, give him one at your new place. If your cat is used to outside time, stay with her while she’s outside. It will be safer if you keep the cat inside for at least two weeks, however. A cat needs to feel like the new place is home before making a solo trip outside, or she may disappear.
If you think buying new pet supplies for the new home would be fun, wait a few weeks before making the change. Sure, you may be reluctant to take a ratty old dog bed into your wonderful new home, but your pet is going to appreciate familiar favorites. The same old shredded blankets, gnawed toys, and beat up food bowls will help your pet to feel more at home. Get the new goodies later.
Stick to your pet’s regular routine as much as possible. The same times for feeding, walking, and sleeping will help give a sense that not everything is different. Once your pet has settled in, routine changes will be easier on her. This is the time for plenty of hugs, playtime, and attention with you. The extra affection will work to alleviate bad and nervous behaviors while your pet figures out your new place is permanent and safe.