Think moving is stressful? Imagine what it must be like for a pet. A cat might feel disrupted by something as uneventful as a new piece of furniture, let alone moving to an entire new home. But there are ways you can make your move easier on both your pet and yourself.
Before you commit to a new home, it’s important to make sure it’s a good fit for your pet. Review all lease and homeowners’ association documents to see if there are any pet restrictions. Visit any areas you’re considering moving to, and take note of the area’s pet-friendliness. Are there dog parks? Trails you can walk your pet on? Any areas that don’t seem welcome to pets?
Also consider your particular animal. Take note of your pet’s energy level, rather than just its size. Will there be enough space in the new home for your animal to be happy?
Pack Gradually and Calmly
The moving and storage company Clockwork Removals recommends helping skittish animals, like cats, prepare for the move by packing gradually. A super-rushed move at the last minute could stress animals out, so do your best to pack calmly. Bringing in boxes early can let pets adjust to the sight of moving materials around the house.
Meanwhile, the Blue Cross for Pets gives advice on securing cats–who are very easy to stress out–on moving day. For instance, keeping “your cat in one room with all doors and windows closed” will keep the cat safe and easy to find. Also, mark the room with a sign so that nobody mistakenly lets the cat out.
Prepare for Travel
If you’re driving a pet to a new location, PetFinder recommends preparing the animal for the road. For a cat, this means acclimating them to their carrier by leaving it out, putting favorite toys and blankets in, and giving the cat praise when it enters the carrier. For a dog unused to road trips, taking drives in the weeks before the move can help, starting out with short trips to gradually acclimate the dog.
When you pack your car for the move, make sure you have easily accessible food and water for your pets. Pets need breaks from the road just like humans–build in rest stops to your schedule. Reserve a space for your pet’s cage or carrier, letting its door face outward so it’s easy to access the animal.
At your New Home
Once you’ve arrived, avoid overwhelming your pet by letting them explore the entire home at once. Instead, gradually acclimate to the home room by room, starting with a “home base” with the pet’s essential and favorite items. With gradual acclimation, your pet can slowly explore and get to know your home–in time fully enjoying it.
It’s a good idea to supervise dogs the first few times they go outside. For example, if you have a garden or a fenced area, dogs might immediately begin looking for new spots to dig or escape.
The RSPCA advises that cats in particular need time to adjust and settle. In fact, they may even try to return to their old home, so keeping them indoors for two weeks is advisable.
But with enough care and planning, your pet will settle in just fine. So be patient, and enjoy watching your pet learn about and begin to enjoy its new surroundings.