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Making a Move With Pets

June 17, 2016

Cat in a Moving Box

Dog among moving boxes

Did you know that approximately 37-47 percent of all homes have a dog, and another 30-37 percent of homes have a cat? That’s about 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats that have become part of the family! When you consider that about 12 percent of the population (or 1 in 9 people) moves each year, that’s a lot of Fidos and Morrises moving along with them.  

If you’ve ever moved with pets, then you know it’s a challenge and it requires some planning to make the move as easy on our furbabies as possible. It also requires a lot of attention (believe me I know – my cat jumped out of the moving truck passenger seat when I moved from PA to SC in 2007!) So we thought we’d put together some helpful tips on keeping the move as stress-free as possible for both the pup, kitty, and mom and pop.

First up, you’ll want to consider your pets when picking out your new home. This is probably a given for most of us with pets. But if you are a new pet owner, you’ll want to consider the age of your pet when moving. Young and older dogs, for example, will require lots of bathroom trips and apartments with stairs may not be the best choice for them.

Once you’ve found your new home, you’ll need to pack up your belongings. This can be traumatic on its own if you have naturally nervous pets. One solution to help ease the transition of moving is to bring in the moving boxes early so that your pets can adjust to them. Also, consider packing up their rooms (maybe your bedroom and living room) last so that it is still familiar to them. 

It’s a good idea to consider microchipping your pet prior to a move in case the unthinkable happens and your pet escapes. It can be especially difficult in a new neighborhood, where you don’t know your neighbors yet, and they don’t know your pet. At the very least, you should make sure your pets have updated ID tags with current cell phone numbers. Also, take a recent, well-lit photograph of them, and be sure to capture any unique markings or characteristics in case they do escape.

On moving day, consider keeping them behind closed doors in a safe, quiet room or take them to a friend’s home or board them for the day. It may be a challenge, but try to keep their routine as normal as possible. If your pets haven’t spent much time in a car or crate, consider acclimating them to riding and to their crates before the big day. If you are aware that your pet has car sickness, visit your vet beforehand to see about medication that can help. Longer moves can require overnight stays, so you’ll want to scope out pet-friendly hotels first, too. Also, pack a pet bag for easy access. Keep pet bowls, food, and litter pans with your pets, so that they are easily located when you arrive in the new home (or overnight hotel), and not stashed away on the moving truck. 

When you arrive at your new home, you’ll want to help your pets adjust to their new surroundings. Many people just let them roam free in the new home, but some pet experts suggest this may not be the best idea. Instead, let them adjust to one room at a time. Make this their “home base” and keep all their food and water bowls, toys, beds, litter box, etc., here. When they grow comfortable, allow them into other rooms bit by bit, while keeping some doors shut. Once they are comfortable, you can consider moving their items out of their home base slowly over time, such as moving a litter box one foot forward each day.

If you follow these tips and keep your vehicle windows rolled up, it’s much more likely that your entire family, pets included, will make the trip safely with you. And as for Mojo, my cat, he was found just a few minutes after making his escape from the passenger seat of the parked moving truck. It seems he just had to make one last nature stop before we got on the road. 

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