By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
Moving the family is stressful no matter how you slice and dice it and keeping the general anxiety at bay for the humans can be quite the challenge. But while you're making sure your kids are okay with leaving their schools, friends, and neighborhoods, don't forget that Fido and Leo get stressed out and need some extra TLC, too. And of course, cats and dogs respond to environmental changes differently, so you'll need a big head for all the therapy hats you've got to wear during the move. Animals that live a contained lifestyle usually lack the emotional attachment you have with your cats and dogs--fish in a tank just don't tug on your heartstrings like the dog does when he looks at you at suppertime.
Here's how you can keep your pets relaxed and happy while you move--so at least somebody in the family isn't a nervous wreck.
Cats tend to attach to places more than people--tales of cats who come with the houses aren't necessarily apocryphal. They're a worry if they're outside cats and you're undertaking a long distance move--cats have been known to leave the new house to go back "home". This isn't such a worry if you're going around the block, otherwise, it's a huge concern.
Think about it--your cats don't run to the door to go for a ride every time you grab your car keys; they're perfectly content to keep sunning themselves on the windowsill--until you start packing and the windowsill disappears behind a pile of boxes. Here's how to manage your cats.
- Contain free-range cats, starting several weeks before you move. Get them used to being inside with you--if this means late-life litter box training, so be it. Entice them into a pet carrier for a few hours a day, so that they're not yowling maniacs when you put them in the car. Take the cats out for short rides when you're running errands--always in the carrier.
- Moving day, keep the cat and all cat necessities in a room with the door closed. Once the professional movers have packed the trucks and you're ready to leave, put Kitty in the carrier. If your cat does not travel well, your vet may prescribe something, so she doesn't have a breakdown in the car, thus causing you and the dog and the kids to have their own mini-meltdowns.
- Once you're installed in the new house, repeat the moving-out process for a few days. Keep the cats contained in a room with their stuff, while you deal with the hubbub of moving, unpacking, and settling in. Even with indoor cats, they'll be happier--and less likely to demonstrate their unhappiness by ignoring the litter box--if you wait until you've settled in a bit to let them roam free in the house.
- For outside cats, they'll need some time to adjust to the new smells of the house and to realize this is where their people are, before they should be let out to roam. Set some food outside to remind them where home is.
Your dog just wants to be with you, but he'll get anxious when you're anxious. Canine stress is highest pre-move, so here's how to keep Fido calm and cool when you're losing your mind.
- Allow plenty of time for packing, if you're packing yourself. Seeing a little movement daily isn't a big deal; going to puppy camp for the day and coming home to an empty house will freak him out.
- Stay in your regular routine--walks, dinner, whatever you do, keep doing it.
- Update the contact information if he's microchipped; you can usually go online to make those changes.
- At the new house, show him the yard, take him out for a walk, and ensure dinner time is consistent.
Fish, Hamsters, Birds
Secure the cages in the back of the car or hire a pet mover to transport them. As aquariums and fish can be a challenge to move, you could consider donating the aqua-pets to an elementary school.
Get copies of your pet's veterinary records before you move, so you have all the immunization records handy if you need to board before you see the new vet.
Keeping your pets happy while you move goes a long way towards keeping you happy. Following these tips will ease the stress of relocating the pets, at least.
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