How to Move With a Pet

Moving to a new home is terribly stressful for most people.  But what you may not realize is how stressful moving can be for pets.  Moving with pets is a little more involved if you want to make the move a bit less scary for your pet, not to mention safe.  In this article, we’ll discuss how to move with a pet safely and how to make moving pets easier and less stressful for all of you!

How to Move With a Pet6 Tips for Moving with Pets

1.  Get your pet used to a crate or carrier.  Most pets don’t spend much time in a carrier of any sort.  The ASPCA recommends gradually accliminating your pet to their carrier.  First, place food inside an open carrier.  Eventually start serving their meals inside the carrier with the door open, then start shutting the door while they’re eating.

Next, try carrying the pet around the house in the carrier (if not too heavy or not a crate).  Then take your pet for a couple of short car trips in the carrier.

I did these exact steps when I had my cat Whisker’s one-year vet visit scheduled.  When I took him for a car ride, I left him inside the carrier for a few minutes when we got home while I took my coat and shoes off.  Then I casually opened the carrier door.  A few minutes later he was back inside the carrier just hanging out!  He even still liked his carrier AFTER the vet visit!  LOL

The point is to create a positive association with the crate or carrier.  It’s one less thing for your pet to be stressed about on moving day.

How to Move With a PetIf you’d like some help making a crate comfortable for your dog or puppy, check out this free crate training tutorial from Professional Dog Trainer, Doggy Dan called, Tips & Tricks for Setting Up Your Pup.

How to Move With a PetFor tips on having your cat in a carrier, refer to my article,  Tips for Traveling with Cats.  That article contains full instructions on how to get your cat used to a carrier (includes video).  That’s a picture of my boy Whiskers on the right traveling to the vet in a carrier for the first time.  Sorry the picture is so dark, but look how cute he is LOL.

2.  Get the moving boxes early.  Most pets, especially cats, don’t enjoy change.  You can help them prepare for the move by bringing in the moving boxes early.  Making the boxes themselves familiar will lessen the stress as you begin packing.

3.  Pack what your pet needs. Whenever I move, I pack an overnight bag for myself for the day of the move including a change of clothes, pajamas, tooth brush, medications, shampoo/conditioner, hairdryer and COFFEE (lol!)  That way, the night of the move and the next morning I’m not trying to find these items.

Do the same for your pet.  Pack their bed, blanket, favorite toy, food, water and food bowls, treats, litter box, litter and scoop, poop bags, leash and any medications so you won’t have to search for these things once you get to the new house.

For more help with packing what your pet needs, refer to my article, Disaster Preparation for Your Pets (includes video).  The section of that article called, “If You Have to Evacuate” talks in depth about what you should have packed for your pet and includes this printable checklist.

How to Move With a Pet4.  Keep them safe on moving day.  On moving day, keep your pets in a quiet (already empty) room with the door shut.  This will keep them from getting scared and running for the door while the movers load up the truck.  During moving day, try to keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible.  Feed them at the same times, let the dog out or take them for a walk at the same times. And of course set up the litter box in this room for the cat.

Several years ago I was helping my sister and her family move.  They had a cat named Gretta.  Nothing had been done to prepare the cat for the move, and on moving day, the cat was free in the house and totally freaking out.  My sister’s brother-in-law, Sean, looked at the cat, looked at me and said, “Somebody should tell the cat they’re moving.”  It was a hilarious statement, but sadly so true.

how to move with pets5.  Settling in.  When everything’s moved and you arrive in your new home, you may be tempted to let the dog or cat loose in the house to explore.  However, many pets will be more overwhelmed by the new space than you may realize.  Start by allowing them to get used to just one room.  You could set up the litter box, their food, bedding and treats in this one room to make it sort of a “home base” for them.

When they seem comfortable, gradually start introducing them to the other rooms in the house while keeping some of the doors shut.  You can relocate their stuff to a more permanent location by moving it slowly over time.  This is especially important for some cats – move their food, water and litter box very gradually.

6.  Don’t forget to pet-proof your new home.  Make sure electrical cords are tucked away, plug up any small openings where your pet could get stuck or escape (especially in the basement).  Make sure all windows have secure screens with no holes.  And make sure the last owner hasn’t left any poisonous traps for mice or ants behind – they’re toxic for your pets.

How to Move With a PetMy Personal Experience and Advice

I’ve moved about a million times in my life, both as a kid and as an adult.  Since I’ve had pets since childhood, I’ve seen first-hand the various reactions and things that can occur when moving pets.  I had two cats I had for several years who had a lot of experience moving.  I’d take some of the safety steps I’ve described in this article, but once we got to the new house, they weren’t scared.  They’d excitedly begin exploring right away! (That’s one of them in the pic – she was beautiful and lived 20 years!)

How to Move With a PetOne cat, however, was terrified.  Her name was Miss Abigail (that’s her in the pic) and I got her as a kitten when I lived in a small apartment.  Then I moved to a huge house and stupidly let her out of her carrier in the new house right in the vast, open living space.  She bolted under the couch, peeing the whole way, and would not come out for nearly 48 hours.  She was absolutely terrified.  When I finally resorted to physically pulling her out from under the couch, she leaped out of my arms and ran into the kitchen, then quickly ran to the basement.  It took over an hour to find her.  She had climbed inside a wall – got herself stuck behind paneling.

I was horrified.  My boyfriend was there and he had to cut into the paneling to get her out.  I cried and cried and cried that day.  It was so scary, for poor little Miss Abigail, and for me.  Eventually she was ok in the new house, but I wanted to share this story for people, like me at that time, who don’t understand how tramatizing a moving can be for pets.

How to Move With a PetAnother tip I can offer is to take your dog with you to the new house ahead of time if you can.  I say the dog and not the cat, because cats generally don’t travel well and getting them used to their carrier and moving them on the day itself is enough.  But most dogs can safely ride in the car.

Whenever I’ve moved, I’ve always loaded my car with breakables like my lamps, certain wall pictures, my favorite cookie jar, and taken them to the new house myself.  If there’s time before moving day, I’ll even go to the new house and clean out the kitchen cupboards, clean the bathrooms.  If you’re doing this, take the dog with you each time.  It’ll help them get used to the new house and be less stressed when you actually move.

For me, the most important thing is to keep your pets safe on moving day.  Don’t lose your pet – by them running out the door or jumping out of the car.  Be careful, please!

Moving Pets Long Distance

If you’re moving a long distance, you might consider hiring a pet transportation service.  You can get more information on the best pet transportation services by visiting TheSprucePets.com.

How to Travel with Pets

For more information and helpful tips on traveling with cats, read my article, How to Travel With a Cat (includes video.)

For more information and helpful tips on traveling with dogs, read my article, Tips for Traveling With Dogs (includes video).

How Far Are You Moving?

I’d love it if you’d comment below and let me know how far you’re moving, whether you’ve ever moved with pets before, and what pets you have.  Feel free to post any questions – if I can help, I’m happy to!

I Donate to Animal CharitiesHow to Move With a Pet

Thank you for visiting my website.  I donate 10% of my earnings from this website to animal charities.  You can see a list of the charities I donate to here.  If you like this website, please share it with your friends – every article and every purchase helps animals!  Debra

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2 thoughts on “How to Move With a Pet”

  1. I’ve never been a big advocate of indoor pets such as cats and dogs, but I’ve also probably never prepared my home for them to actually live in the house, a painfully obvious fact after reading your article.

    We used to have a Corgi, God rest for fluffy soul, and we had her live in doors with us.

    However even with her being a short haired pup she still got fur and dander everywhere and it was a constant battle to keep it all cleaned.

    After reading everything here we were seemingly woefully unprepared to have her living indoors with us.

    Please for the love of your fluffy friend, take this articles advice and get what you need!

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