July 28th, 2017
Do you have family members with feathers, fins or fur? Those feathered, finned or furry kids add a layer of consideration when you're planning a home purchase or move. What are some tips you follow, particularly for cats and dogs, whether you are moving across town or relocating across the country?
People prep - don't wind up in the poor preparation doghouse
Before making a move, you should ensure that you have your pet's up-to-date health records, as not only do most states require health certificates for dogs - and some for cats and other pets, too - but local animal control agencies will need proof of shots, etc., in order to issue ID licenses.1
Will a furry friend be needing a new "primary care provider?" You'll also want to do your homework on both veterinarians and emergency animal hospitals, not to mention doing research on other pet care providers in the area, such as walkers and sitters.
Pet prep - keeping them calm when the fur starts flying
When it comes to moving, it is crucial to get off on the right paw. Both cats and dogs are highly attuned to their "space" and any change or disruption can adversely affect their behavior. If you've ever moved and had to navigate the mounting maze of boxes as you packed up your house, imagine it from the perspective of a pet. That's why, when it comes to packing, it's important to set aside a spot for Spot or Cinders - someplace that is their favorite "go to" and can act as their comfort zone. And those stacks of boxes? Make sure that they are stable and won't fall down with or on any curious climbers or inspectors.
Another "zone" that needs to be made comfortable is their transportation. If a cat or dog hasn't been exposed to car travel except for such negative-association trips as the vet, then it's a good idea to get them used to it before the move. In terms of cats, Jacque Lynn Schultz, director of special projects for ASPCA Animal Sciences, notes that many haven't been in their carriers since they were brought home. She recommends leaving it out, stocked with favorite toys or blankets, so that the cat gets used to being in it and sees it as a home.2 For dogs, it's as simple as taking them out for regular rides with pleasant destinations, like the park or a favorite walking trail. And remember: if it isn't the law in a particular state, it's a pet-parent safety mandate to ensure the right harnesses are in place for the eventful ride.
Reducing moving-day drama
For local (or relatively local) moves, you have a number of options when moving day arrives. In the controlled craziness, sometimes it is better for a pet to be temporarily boarded with family, friends or a kennel to avoid "anyone" getting underfoot or, worse, loose. Remember that "comfort zone"? Having strangers parading in and out of the house, banging and yelling, will shatter a pet's "zone of zen." However, if you want to keep your furry friend(s) at your side, or if a long car ride to the new home is in the offing, then the best thing to do is to keep them, if possible, outside or in a crate safely away from the action until it is time to take them out and turn the key for the last time.
Getting to know mew - learning about the new "digs"
Before introducing pets to their new home, you should do an indoor and outdoor assessment to identify and eliminate any potential pitfalls - broken fences that could allow escapes, stairs that may be difficult to navigate, etc. Again, being creatures of habit, it is also good to synchronize old and new home behaviors: everything from pet beds to litter boxes should be in similar locations (kitchen, living room, bathroom, etc.). If there is an opportunity to do so, letting a cat or dog "sniff out" their new digs before move-in is a good way for them to familiarize themselves with their impending new surroundings. Similarly, once move-in has occurred, you should be prepared for "acclimation time" that can include changes in behavior - for some animals, it may take days or even weeks for them to become comfortable.3
Ensuring a moving round of "appaws"
Moving from point A to point B with a Pointer or a Blue Point Siamese adds an additional layer of complexity to the process, but every pet parent is ready to do what it takes to ensure their furkid's comfort and safety. As with every aspect of a move, proper planning is the rule of claw - and it can go a long way toward ensuring that it is smooth and successful for every member of your family.