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Moving with your Cat or Dog

There’s no way around it, moving is just plain stressful. The chaos, the flurry of activity on moving day, the disorder as you try to find a new place for everything. Adjusting to a new home can be fun and exciting, but for your pet, who will not understand all the sudden changes, moving can be a pretty terrifying experience.

Here are some good things to consider so you can make moving as comfortable as possible for you and your pet.

Invest in a pet carrier

Whether you’re traveling by car or by plane to your new home, you’ll probably find it very useful to use a pet carrier. In a way, a pet carrier can become a temporary home for your dog or cat: a little piece of something familiar in an unfamiliar world. If you decide to use a pet crate or carrier, you’ll want to get it a few weeks or months in advance so you can help your pet adjust to it. Put the carrier out and encourage your pet to explore it. You can keep it near their food so they’ll become accustomed to the sight and smell of it. You can begin putting their favorite bedding and toys in the carrier or try putting snacks or food inside so your pet will spend time inside doing something enjoyable.

If your pet seems hesitant to enter the carrier, you can use food as an incentive to go inside by incrementally moving their food dish deeper inside over the course of a few days.

Try taking your pet on car rides in their carrier so that the sensation of traveling inside of it will not be a shock to them when the time for the move arrives. Taking brief excursions will also give you valuable information about how well your pet travels. Does he get motion sickness? Does she whine and fret? If you discover your pet has travel anxiety or other difficulties, you can talk things over with your vet to decide if medication or, in extreme cases, sedation is needed.

Practice smart packing

Changing the atmosphere and schedule around the home can be very disruptive to your pet. If possible, try to start packing early. This will be beneficial to you as well if you’re able to diffuse the stress of packing over a few days. Pull out packing boxes and allow your pet to get used to having them around. Be aware if your pet takes a liking to hiding in boxes. If so, keep your pet in a separate room while you’re actively packing so they’re not in danger of being underfoot while you’re walking around with loads in your arms and so there’s no chance of closing up a box with your pet hiding inside.

If all the packing activity seems to disturb your pet, give her a safe haven by keeping her in an enclosed room, like a bathroom, with all the necessary litter, food, toys, and bedding she needs. This is especially important on moving day when all the doors are standing open and it’s easy for a pet to escape if they’re not secured somewhere in the house or the yard.

If you don’t need to make a safe haven for your pet, try to leave your pet’s food and litter spots untouched for as long as possible. They need to have some constancy. Resist the temptation to pack up their permanent food dishes and feed them out of temporary containers. When it is finally time to leave, pack your pet’s things in an accessible spot so they’ll be the first things to come out when you get to your new home.

Make a home base

As soon as you arrive at your new home, set up a home base for your pet. This can be a secure spot in the yard or in one room of the house that will remain relatively quiet and undisturbed. Put all your pet’s necessities here (food, bedding, litter, toys) and allow your pet to acclimate to that one room for a few days before opening up the rest of the house for exploration. If possible, make it a room where you will be able to spend time as well, or, also establish a shared room where you and your pet can spend time together. In all the stress of the move, it may be too easy to leave your pet on his own, but it’s important for you both to still spend time together. Your pet needs the reassurance that you’re still there and that your companionship will not be changing. And on the flip side, you need the de-stressing qualities that your pet can offer. Take some time to methodically brush out your pet’s coat or just sit and veg together. It will do wonders for your both!

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