Moving with Your Pet

Author: Alecia Pirulis


Moving is fraught with stressful situations. Perhaps you first had to sell your house, which can be a complicated process. Then, you had to find a new place to live. If you decided to move out of state, there could be frequent traveling on your part as you try to find a suitable new home. Then, there’s the stress of relocating to a new house or even an apartment. And while you may be very aware of the stress it is causing you and possibly your family, have you considered how your pet may be handling it?

Your pet knows something is up. Boxes are being packed, there’s disruption to his routine, there are frequent strangers visiting the house, and you may disappear for long periods of time. Your pet doesn’t know what is going on and how he fits in to this new situation. As a result, your pet’s behavior may change.

If your pet is a dog, he may be used to going places with you – walks, trips to the dog park, camping trips – so leaving his “comfort zone” won’t be something completely foreign to him. This is not true for your cat. While your dog’s main concern is you, your cat’s main concern is her surroundings. She may become stressed during the moving process and her behavior may change. Take a few steps now to help your cat cope with the move, such as getting her familiar with her cat carrier and perhaps taking her for a couple of rides in the car.

Take your pet with you on a couple of visits to your new home before moving day. If you have a dog, take him for a walk around the neighborhood and let him sniff things out. Set your cat’s carrier down in a room you intend to use for her (her future scratching post, bed, litter box area) and let her acclimate to the space.

Before, during, and after the moving process, keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible. If your dog gets walked twice a day at 8 am and 5 pm, keep him to the same walking schedule throughout the process. If your cat’s litter box is currently kept in the bathroom, don’t suddenly place it in the laundry room. Make sure your pet has his favorite blanket and toys during the moving process, and be sure to pet-proof your new space before letting your animals have free range. (For example, be sure there are no holes under the backyard fence or dangerous chemicals left behind from the previous owners.)

With a little planning, your move should be a great experience for every member of your family. If you notice your pet isn’t settling in as well as you’d hoped, reassure them with affection, praise, and extra treats. Soon, they’ll love their new home as much as you do.