The cat is having a fit in the car, guinea pigs escaped at the diner, the snake that got left behind, and the dog that bit the moving man... you could fill a book with tales of the trials of moving with pets. But it doesn't have to be that way, if you do some planning and follow good common sense.
Firstly, remember that your pet is also a member of the family, and deserves some consideration in the moving plans. Your pet will also be leaaving familiar surroundings, and you'll have some trouble helping your pet understand what's happening and why. Your goal will be to get your pet out of your present home and into your new home as securely and smoothly as possible. Think about your pet's temperament and special needs and put togather a plan to help your pet make the transition:
- Plan for your pet's trip to the new home. Most pets will make the move in a car with the rest of the family. In the eventt that you're traveling by air, you'll need to make arrangements for your pet several weeks in advance. If necessary, get your pet used to a carrier.
- Make a moving day plan for your pet. Ideally, on moving day your pet should stay elsewhere, preferably in a familiar place: a favorite kennel service, or at a kind friend or relatives home. With all the comings and goings at your house - strange people and whicles, and constantly opening doors - there are just too many chances for your pet to have a meltdown or meet with an accident. Stressed pets and movers don't mix well. If your pet must be in the house, find an empty room with the least commotion and put your pet there. Put a sign on the door to clearly indicate that the room is not to be entered. Ensure your pet has comfortable surroundings, enough fresh water and some familiar toys.
- Try to keep a calm envronment. Your pet will be picking up on the family's signals in the weeks before and after the move. If you're experiencing stress, your pet will be tuning into the change. No matter how crazy life gets, try to maintain (as closely as possible) your pet's feeding, watering, play, and exercise routines. Keep their familiar foods, toys and bedding accessible. After all, there is upheaval enough in their surroundings now!
- Think about your pet's own personality. Cats are far more territorial than dogs are. Cats need to feel that they are in control of a changing environment, whereas dogs are far more attached to their owner than they are to the actual house. So make sure your cat always has a nook or cranny or box to hide in or under at both ends of the move.
- Make sure your pet is wearing identification. Also, take a picture of your pet and jot down a written description. Pets can be unpredictable when their home life is upset. There is a higher risk of your pet escaping in the weeks before and after the move.
- Prepare your pet for travel. When traveling by car with your pet, remember to restrict its food intake several hours ahead of the trip, and during the trip too. Animals should be in a carrier unless you are absolutely sure that they will not get under a brake padal or cause a dangerous commotion. Most cats will sleep away their long trip. Your dog will be much happier if it has been well exercised before the trip. Use a tranquilizer for your pet as a very last resort, and then only with your veterinarian's instructions.
- Pack a travel kit for your pet. Be sure that the food is easy to digest, and use water from your regular home supply; changing diet or water sources are common causes of diahrea and vomiting from upset stomachs. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian for food recommendations. Don' forget extra food for the arrival (can opener too!), medications and vet records, familiar toys, new identification tags, and something with a reassuring scent.