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11 Tips for moving with your cat or dog
If you’re getting ready to move, that means your pets are moving, too. And just like their human counterparts, your cat, dog, or iguana may be feeling stressed about all the packing and sorting and upcoming change. (You can imagine their thoughts: Where’s my bed going? Is the neighbor dog friendly? Are you leaving me?) Fortunately, we’ve got some moving tips that can help you and your pet enjoy a stress-free transition and avoid common anxiety behavior like hiding, pacing, and excessive barking or meowing.
1. Keep your pet away from the moving action
When you’re moving with pets, one of the best things you can do is keep them away from all the flurry. Put your cat or dog in one room and close the door. Send your pup to her favorite doggie daycare or for a daylong playdate with a friend.
If you can’t or don’t want to do this, put her in a kennel with her favorite toy and blanket in a quiet, empty room.
Consider leaving the kennel door open so your dog or kitty can access water, food, litter box, and hide in her kennel when she wants. Lock the room door or leave a note informing everyone, movers and kids alike, to stay out to avoid any accidental escapes.
Check on your pet often to reassure her that things are a-okay, you haven’t forgotten her, and of course, to ensure that doggos gets out for a bathroom break.
2. Move the apartment before you move your pet
Save moving your pets until the very end. Being stuck in an empty room in a home you’re familiar with is stressful. But being stuck in a room alone at a completely new apartment is even worse. Once you’ve moved your pet, stick close to her for the rest of the day.
3. Let your pet ride along with you the day of the move
Put your cat or dog in a carrier and personally drive her over. You can strap the carrier into a seat belt for safety. There are also special seat belt harnesses, especially for dogs if you don’t have a carrier.
If your pet is in a carrier, consider throwing a blanket over it. This will keep out sights and sounds that might be scary.
4. Prepare an overnight kit for your pet’s new home
Moving can feel like chaos. (What are we saying? It is chaos.) Make sure you have a pet kit all ready to go with their food, water dishes, toys, blankets, beds, litter, scratching post, leash, poo bags, and a favorite photo of the two of you.
When you arrive at your new digs after a long day of moving, you won’t be searching through an endless sea of cardboard boxes looking for your pet’s essentials.
5. Prepare a quiet room for your pet in your new apartment
Just like at the old place, you’ll want to have a pets-only room where she can chill until she’s more settled. Try to unpack as much as possible in this room and place familiar things—her stuff, your stuff—so it feels more homey and familiar.
Confine them to their kennel for at least the first couple of hours and then graduate to letting them loose in the room. Cats especially should be kept in one quiet room for a day or two while you unpack and get the rest of your new home put together.
For dogs, wait until the movers are gone, and you have time to devote to giving her the five-star tour. Walk her through the apartment and have some treats ready to reward her as she meets her new home.
Ensure that her favorite bed or kennel is always accessible, so she has a place to retreat to when she needs to.
6. Make some time for play, love, and attention
Remember to stop and give your dog or cat (or iguana, let’s not forget the iguana) some extra attention, treats, and love during each step of the moving process. A little bit of reassurance from you will go a long way to making her know that things are ok.
Take your dog out for walks and play fetch with her. Tired dogs are happy dogs. Have plenty of treats on hand and chew toys like a Kong with peanut butter to help channel some of her nervous energy into.
Try to avoid raising your voice or hollering loudly (we humans get stressed too!) because that could lead to barking or other stress behaviors from your pooch. With her world in upheaval, she may think she needs to control her pack, leading to barking and other bossy, undesirable dog behaviors.
7. Update your pet’s tags or microchip info
Contact your county’s pet licensing department to notify them of your new address. If you moved to a new county altogether, you would need to get a new license or ask if you can simply transfer the license to the new county.
Get new tags with your new address and phone number and update her microchip with whatever registry she is registered with. There is a national pet chip registry, too, that you can consider using.
8. Identify your pet’s new vet before you move
In the event of an emergency, know exactly where to take your pet. Contact your old vet and have them transfer all her records ahead of time as well. This is a good time to make sure that all her shots are up to date too!
9. Stick to your pet’s schedule during your move
As much as possible, stick to the feeding, walking, playing routine. Setting a pet alarm on your phone can be helpful to remind you when it’s time for a walk, brush, or treat.
10. Make sure to know the pet policy of your apartment
This should go without saying, but just in case, don’t try to sneak any pets into an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. When your landlord discovers that you have an illegal pet (and they always figure it out eventually), you may be forced to move, pay expensive fines, or make the difficult decision of whether or not to rehome your pet.
Many apartments ask for a picture of your pet, along with their name and breed type, so if they enter your apartment, no one is surprised by an unregistered pet. It is also common for landlords to ask for proof of rabies vaccination.
Some other common rules in pet-friendly apartment properties are:
- Designated dog areas
- Have your dog on a leash at all times
- No dogs in pool or spa areas
- Pick up after your dog
- Indoor cats only
11. Settle your dog or cat in after your move
Getting your BFF beastie settled and happy is not only good for you but good for your wallet. Happy pets are well-behaved pets that don’t destroy apartment furnishings, carpets, and relationships with your neighbors.
These last nuggets of pet wisdom are all about making your furry pal’s long-term relationship with your new apartment a happy and lasting one.
- Set up your pet’s castle in the new kingdom with their kennel, water, food, bedding, toys, and whatever they need to help them feel at home.
- Make sure kitty knows where the cat box is and has constant access to it.
- Once things have quieted down, give them room to wander when you have time to keep an eye on them.
- Be extra careful going in and out the front door for the first week or two to make sure there are no escape attempts.
- If your cat will be going outside, it is recommended to wait at least three weeks before letting them out.
- Have someone be at home as much as possible for at least two weeks after your move.
Is moving stressful for my pet?
Yes, moving is stressful for your pet — and as much as we wish we could sit them down and talk to them about what’s happening, and some of us still try, they don’t understand. The best you can do is keep them safe, comfortable, and loved.
Signs of moving anxiety in your dog or cat
- Hiding or cowering
- Barking or meowing excessively
- Not eating or drinking water
- Aggressive behavior
- Pacing or shaking
- Urinating or defecating in inappropriate places
- Chewing, digging, or scratching
Moving pets long distances
Check local pet laws and regulations
If you are moving to a new state, check into their laws and regulations about bringing your pet with you — vaccinations, breed types, licensing, HOA rules — are all things to consider.
Schedule a vet visit
A local veterinarian will be the perfect resource to find about local regulations.
Flying with your pet
Research your airline’s pet policies rigorously to make sure there are no surprises in the airport. Many airlines allow small pets to fly in the cabin with you as long as the carrier is small enough to fit under the seat.
Long-distance drive with your pet
Be well stocked with all your pet’s supplies, including water, food, leash, carrier etc., call ahead to hotels to make sure they have pet rooms, allow for bathroom breaks, and never leave your baby alone in the car.
Pet moving services
Some companies specialize in moving your pet if you are unable to do it personally. The best companies offer veterinarian services, temperature-controlled cargo areas, grooming, exercise, and apps that allow you to track your pet’s whereabouts and see a live video feed of them.
Moving with pets can be done
Moving with pets can be stressful for humans and pets alike. But with careful planning, you can minimize your pet’s anxiety during this big transition, and y’all will be chillin’ in your new digs like you’ve lived there forever before you know it.
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