Making a Move With Your Pets

Its important to safeguard your animal friends during this hectic and stressful time. Heres some advice.

Moving day can be a miserable, hectic blur – one of those times youd like to be able to just twitch your nose and be done with it. Unfortunately, it just isnt that easy. And cat owners have the added stress of worrying about how their cat(s) will react to the

Bev Caldwell


disorder and mayhem. However, there are several precautions that can be taken to help ensure that your pet will remain safe during the move and to promote a quick adjustment to his new home.

Losing your cat on moving day is something to be avoided at all costs. Julia Albright, DVM, a resident in animal behavior at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, explains, “Dealing with a lost pet on such a busy day is a nightmare. Pets are notorious for sneaking out on moving day; confining the cat to a bedroom or bathroom with a note on the door is a great idea.” Make sure that the cat has food, water, litter and is comfortable – and then close the door and put a highly visible note on it, spelling out that the door must remain closed. Not only will this reduce the cats anxiety at seeing everything familiar removed from the home, but it will also help ensure that the cat does not dart out an open door. When it comes time to transfer the cat, crate her while shes in the confinement area and double-check the latch before opening the door.

If your cat gets motion sickness or needs something to help him relax while traveling, you should speak to your veterinarian before medicating him. There are several over-the-counter drugs available for our feline friends, but as Dr. Albright explains, “Homeopathics are capable of causing side effects and drug interactions. Owners should ask their vets about such remedies in case they are contraindicated in their cat.” As a safe alternative, a favorite toy, blanket or some article of clothing with your familiar scent on it may help reduce anxiety associated with traveling and moving.

Designate a Safe Room. Upon arrival at the new home, it is equally important to choose a room in which to confine the cat while everything is being moved in. Confining the cat at the new home serves a dual purpose. First of all, it helps ensure that she doesnt slip out the door into unfamiliar territory; and, secondly, it creates a safe-zone in an otherwise unfamiliar home. According to Dr. Albright, you can create a safe-zone by “plugging a Feliway diffuser (a facial pheromone-based diffuser which may help reduce stress) in a certain room and confining the cat to that room with food, water and a litter box for a day or two.” This is especially important for timid cats. Dr. Albright explains, “In general, cats do not do well with change. Expect some cats to cope poorly with the move. It may take weeks for them to get settled … the safe-zone is essential for these cats.”

Cat-proofing the new home should ideally be done while the cat is in the confinement area; make sure that all screens are secure and that there arent any holes or crevices that he can squeeze into (and get stuck in or escape through). It is also a good idea to be especially vigilant about keeping all outside doors closed for several weeks – at least until things have settled down considerably and you can trust your cat not to make a run for it.

The method used to introduce the cat to the rest of the new home should be dependent on the cats personality. “It is a good idea to gradually introduce timid cats to the new home, whereas bolder cats may be able to explore the entire house earlier,” explains Dr. Albright.

She elaborates that it is normal for a cat to hide under the bed or furniture for some time and to have a decreased appetite, as well. However, it is important to try to engage the cat several times a day and also to make sure that the cat is eating something throughout the day: “It is very important that cats, especially overweight cats, eat something daily. Consult a veterinarian if your cat is too stressed to eat. Medications to increase appetite and decrease stress may be necessary,” says Dr. Albright.