Moving is a hassle for everyone; we’ve all been through a move or relocation sometime in our lives, and we can all agree that it is a very stressful situation for humans, and for pets as well, for them probably even more, since it means a disruption of their normal lives and routines, to the point that it can be a traumatizing experience for them if not handled properly. There are a few things everyone should do when moving into a new home, and there are some relocating do’s and don’ts we have to consider, especially when moving with pets.
We requested the expert’s advice to learn how to move with your pet, and do it properly avoiding trauma and unnecessary stress for our furry friends, there are a ton of things we can do to ease our furry babies’ moving experience, from playing calming music, a pet meditation or spraying calming smells around them, let’s check out the fabulous advice, tips, and tricks the experts gave us.
How can we reduce our pet’s anxiety before and during the move?
Before Moving Day:
Keep Things Normal – Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time so that your pet thinks everything is normal. This will keep their stress level down. If you are moving with cats, it can help to bring out their carriers a few weeks before the move. Put their favorite treats and toys inside their carriers so they can get used to them before the big moving day. Don’t pack the food away! Keep your pet’s food, water, bowls, medication, and any other important supplies (like that favorite squeaky toy) off the moving truck and with you.
Travel with Your Pet – Unless you’re moving long distance or international, your pet will likely be traveling by car with you nearby. By driving them yourself, you can care for them and give them a sense of familiarity as they move. To prepare your pet for this trip, drive for short distances with your pet to prepare them before the final move. Also, remember to plan ahead for any special carriers your pets may need for transportation. There are even special seat belts for large dogs.
In the case that you are unable to travel alongside your pet, many pet transportation services exist whether domestically or internationally. Speaking with dog shipping experts at Breeding Business, we have to emphasize how important in-transit hygiene, extensive pet insurance, and genuine pet-friendliness of drivers are when you’re looking for a door-to-door ground transportation service for moving your pet to your new address. There are no shortcuts to take for such a stressful time in the life of a dog, regardless of their age.
During the actual moving day, where boxes and furniture are being moved, pets should be removed. Find a friend who wouldn’t mind pet sitting or find a place away from all the noise of moving, such as a doggy day care or cat care center. If you can visit them during a spare moment, it can help reassure the pets that nothing is going on. Keeping pets locked away in a room during moving day can make them anxious from all the noise and new people that might be in your home. If you must keep them locked away, find a quiet room, put their water bowl in it, and put a HUGE sign on the door, to make sure nobody enters.
After Moving Day:
Don’t let pets roam around the neighborhood until they are acclimated. Take them out on a leash to explore their new territory and show them how to get home. If you let them out in a new place right away, they might get lost or run away due to stress. Make sure your pet’s new identification tags are secured to their collar.
-Laura McHolm, Moving & Storage Expert and Co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company
What can we do to reduce the stress on cats before and during the move to a new home?
Catpointers mentions that cats are particularly stressed during moves because they are such territorial creatures who form strong bonds and attachments to their homes. Cats like routine and predictability, and their stuff starts disappearing and moving around, they get very anxious. Stress can lead to health and behavioral issues; therefore, it’s important to mitigate those effects before, during, and after your move.
Follow these 10 tips for a less stressful cat move
- In the rare instance your cat escapes along the way, before you move, make sure your cat has a microchip and that your cat’s microchip information is up to date.
- Be sure to leave as many of the items that smell like the cat for last-minute packing. This includes beds, scratching posts, toys, rugs, favorite furniture they sleep on, etc.
- About a month before the move, leave out the cat carrier that you will transport the cat in. Line the carrier with a t-shirt or towel that smells like you and begin feeding meals in the carrier so your cat learns to be comfortable going in it.
- Leave out empty moving boxes for the cat to explore. Make a game out of them by tossing treats and toys inside the boxes.
- About two weeks before the move, start the cat on an over-the-counter stress reducer like Zylkene and begin using a plug-in pheromone diffuser. Stick to scheduled feedings and playtimes, giving your cat(s) extra doses of daily affection.
- Keep your cat confined to a comfortable, quiet room on the day of moving. Be sure to put a sign on the door so that move helpers don’t accidentally let kitty out.
- If you are moving locally or by car, make your cat as comfortable as possible with the process by transporting him/her in the carrier you’ve conditioned especially for them. To reduce the opportunity for car sickness, do not feed your cat the morning of the trip. Cover the carrier with a blanket or towel; it does not make the cat feel better to see where they are going.
- If traveling by plane, follow the crate protocol for driving and line the carrier with piddle pads. Be sure to take extras to change out if they become soiled along the way. Arrive at the airport with plenty of time, so you’re not rushed; cats pick up on our stress levels, and you don’t want to add to the stress your cat is already feeling.
- Once you get to your new home, put your cat in a sanctuary room along with the items you brought that smell like her. This will become her home base while she slowly gets familiar with the new surroundings. The room should be quiet, but you should also spend time in it; a home office or bedroom would be great. Get routines established as quickly as possible, and prey play with your cat in their new surroundings at least twice a day. This will help her to feel more trusting of her new environment.
- After about a week in the sanctuary room, allow your cat to explore other parts of the house. Be sure to leave the door to the sanctuary room open so he/she can retreat into it if he/she feels threatened. By the second week, your cat should be accustomed to the new home and routines, and you can allow her to roam freely in the house.
Remember to always move forward at the cat’s pace; if they are not yet ready to venture beyond the sanctuary room at the end of week two, then give them more time. Each cat is an individual and will progress in its own time. It will take up to three months for a cat to become totally settled into the new home.
-Molly DeVoss, Certified Feline Training & Behavior Specialist, at Cat Behavior Solutions
What are the most common challenges pet owners face when moving?
Some of the common challenges pet owners may face while moving are stress, anxiety, and behavioral issues in their pets. Changes in surroundings can lead to various anxiety and behavioral problems, such as excessive barking, whining, and digging.
The Dogs Journal team – The Dogs Journal
How can we help our dog stay relaxed during a move?
Moving can be stressful for humans and dogs. There isn’t much that happens in life that is more stressful than moving. Our dogs can respond to this stress in the form of disruptive behavior (like chewing and barking), lack of appetite, diarrhea, and more.
Dogs thrive on routines. The most important thing to keep in mind while getting ready for a move is to keep the routine as close to normal for your dog throughout the moving process.
It may be tempting to have a fresh start in the new home with everything clean or new, but keep some items for your dog with familiar smells. This could be their dog bed, blankets, toys, or a favorite chair. Keep some of these items out until the last possible time while packing up and have them be among the first items available at the new home.
You may also decide to set up a crate to keep your dog safe during packing and travel. Include familiar smells in the crate, too. If your dog is not familiar with crates, start offering meals in the open crate weeks prior to the start of packing. Begin offering good treats or chews in the crate, and practice closing the door for short periods of time. Having this safe den-like option will be helpful during the move. The crate can be set up in the car for travel, and then in the new home.
Consider natural calming aids for your dog. Calming collars with lavender or CBD are readily available. Treats or supplements are available with calming ingredients. NaturVet’s Quiet Moments includes L-Tryptophan and Melatonin in soft chews for dogs. These can be given twice a day during the days leading up to the move.
Keep your dog busy, like giving meals in puzzle bowls or going for extra walks.
If your dog attends daycare, it may be best to have her at daycare or boarding while your house is being packed up. That provides exercise and mental stimulation in addition to keeping your dog away from the commotion. The risk of someone leaving a door open and your dog running away are eliminated this way, too.
-Rayne Reitnauer, Owner of Cold Nose Lodge
How can we help our cat stay relaxed during a move?
Moving is stressful for humans, so it’s no surprise that it is for cats as well. Seeing all of the things they associate with the home being put in a box and taken away puts them on edge, to begin with. The actual move makes them even more stressed.
A good way to make the process less stressful is to start early. Take the carriers (there should be one for every cat) out and leave them open. Put a blanket, towel, or cat bed in there so that the cats get used to the carrier as something not to be feared, but something to relax in. This should be done a few weeks before the move.
On the day of the move, the cats should be the last thing to go into the car. Make sure everything else has been packed and loaded before you put the cats in the carrier. Put them in the car and see if they like having a towel over the carrier to cover it up. Some cats may not like this.
When you arrive at your new home, find a quiet and out of the way place to put the cats. Set up that area with their food, water, and litter. Take the carriers there, and open them up. The cats may not want to come out of the carriers, and that’s okay. They’ve gotten used to them as a safe and relaxing place. Allow the cats to come out and explore at their own pace. When they do come out of the area where you’ve let them out, don’t be surprised if they go under the bed or couch and don’t come out.
Diffusers can be used in the new home to make the cats feel more comfortable. It can take a few weeks before they feel fully comfortable in their new home. Interact with them at their pace, but don’t force them to interact.
By planning and going slow, you can make what’s going to be a stressful situation for your cats less so.
-Tony Wang, General Manager of The Cat Cafe
What is the best way to help cats keep calm during relocation and make the transition as steady as possible?
As we’ve moved a few times, it’s a situation I know well, my best advice is:
I don’t advocate any meds unless your cat specifically needs them for the good of their health. Moving will always be stressful for your cat, especially if you have to travel a good distance.
Try to make them as comfortable as possible, have someone they know well sit with them while they’re in their carrier, and give them constant reassurance during transit.
When you arrive at your new home, treats, familiar toys and blankets, and plenty of space to explore when they’re ready is the best solution!
Set up a couple of quiet places for them to relax and unwind. Give them free roam of the house to find their bearings and ‘map’ out their new living area – and most of all, allow them to settle in at their own pace.
-Phil from Upgrade Your Cat
When is the best moment to bring our dog to the new place to make the transition as steady as possible?
When moving to a new home, it is best to let your pup know ahead of time before you start packing. You can tell them verbally that you will be moving to a new home. As you say this, it can also help to visualize your new home in your mind and imagine how the new home will feel to help you communicate a sense of the new space. Since dogs and humans don’t speak the same verbal language, you can show your pet through deliberate actions what is happening. First, get their attention by calling their name and having them come over to the area where each of their belongings are. When you’re 100% sure you have all eyes on you, put their items in a box and then give them a treat. If your dog is senior or anxious, you can let them sniff their item and slowly put it in the box. Going above and beyond to show them that you are taking the time to communicate is half the communication.
When you get to the new home, make sure that their bed and their items are visible or near proximity to them. You can introduce them to your new home by calmly leading them in once everything is settled and unpacked except some of their stuff. Again, you can re-introduce them to each of their items by calling them to their items, taking the stuff out slowly, and letting them smell and touch it while you put it away. Walk the dog to each room on a leash in a calm and deliberate manner as if giving a tour.
-Cynthia Okimoto, Holistic Dog Trainer, from New York Dog Nanny
How can we help our pets adjust after moving to a new home?
“Pets entering a new environment can be tough! Dogs and Cats’ territorial instincts make them very attached to their surroundings, and abruptly changing those surroundings may cause unneeded anxiety. Often our pets don’t know how to cope with anxiety healthily. This can cause them to chew up furniture, scratch up floors, and engage in other destructive actions. Here are three suggestions for how to best integrate your pet into your new home and avoid these struggles.
Bring along their favorite blankets, toys, and furniture. This should help put them at ease. It is important that your furry friend is able to relax and feel comfortable in their new home, so familiar sights and scents will help them make the transition. From their cage and water bowls to their treats and supplements, imagine what makes your pet feel at home.
Engage in familiar routines. Whether waking up early, waiting for dinner time or hanging at the dog park: there are daily activities that mark the flow of your pet’s day. Try to match these habits as closely as you can, so your dog will understand that their life isn’t changing, just their location.
Be extra generous. We show love to our pets on a daily basis, but ratcheting up the attention can help both, fight the anxiety your pet may be feeling, and give them positive associations for their new home. Being able to focus on chewing a bone or chasing a laser will start to break down apprehensions your dog or cat may have about moving.
Moving is a stressful event for humans and animals alike, so your pet will appreciate any effort your make to help them adjust. Be sure to continue to pay attention to any changes in their mood or irritability, as this may indicate your pet needs some more help adjusting to their new place. Symptoms like lack of appetite, lack of energy, or lack of sleeping should be addressed with your veterinarian.”
-Nate Hammond, from Downtown Pet Supply
How can we make our cat or dog feel at home once we moved to a new place?
The surest way to success is to take your time. A gradual introduction is best, especially for cats. Don’t overwhelm with the entire house, either one floor at a time or even one room at a time for cats. Of course, choose a room a family member is in frequently. Make sure there are familiar smells, both of the household animals and humans in that room too. Our pets thrive on consistency, and moving is hectic. If you typically take your dog for a walk around 5 p.m., try your best to replicate. Also, make the house a fun place for dogs or cats, and interactive play is fun with the hope that the pets associate the fun with the new home, and play is a stressbuster (for you as well as the pets). Another helpful tip is to plug in pheromone diffusers, such as Adaptil (for dogs) and Feliway (for cats), which will help to support comfort in their new digs.
-Steve Dale, author of The Steve Dale Pet World Blog
How can we tell if our cat is going through stress and anxiety during or after a move, and what should we do to make him feel comfortable and safe?
Signs of stress during a move:
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive vocalization
Stress can be exacerbated by loud noises and an abundance of new smells, which is very frightening for domestic cats that never leave their homes.
Signs of stress after a move:
- Cystitis, spraying or pooing in unusual places. Due to stress, the cat’s bladder becomes inflamed. As a result, he pees often but produces small amounts of urine, pees outside the litter box, and struggles to urinate.
- Loss of appetite and hiding. Cats need some time before they are ready to discover their new environment. They prefer to hide in dark places and are scared to venture out for the litter box or water.
- Over-grooming. A cat grooms his tummy and inner thighs to calm himself.
What should we do to make him feel comfortable and safe?
Before a move
Plan in advance and allocate rooms for your cat in your current home and your new home. Make sure both rooms have a comfortable sleeping place, a blanket, and a litter tray. Feed your cat in his existing room to make him feel safe and secure. One day before the move, move the scratching post and a water bowl into this room. On the day of the move, close your pet in this room.
On top of that, use Feliway diffusers to saturate a new home and make sure your cat feels less stressed when he arrives. Besides, talk to your vet to learn about anti-anxiety medications you can use to manage stress.
During a move
Put towels and blankets in the cage so that your cat feels comfortable. Besides, use artificial pheromone sprays that mimic the scent from a cat’s facial glands, therefore, your cat feels secure and comfortable. Make sure your pet sees you the entire time, so he doesn’t feel abandoned. If possible, hold the cat in your lap so that he feels secure.
After a move
Take your cat to a secure room, introduce him to a food tray, litter box, provide his favorite bits and pieces. He will run as fast as he can and hide. Be patient; he will come out when he is ready to explore his new surroundings.
-Andrew Guerra from Cats Purfection
How can we tell if our dog is going through stress and anxiety during or after a move, and what should we do?
It’s often been said that moving home is one of our more stressful life experiences (pre-pandemic, obviously!); this is even more so for dogs.
Before the move
- Dogs are creatures of habit, and find changes on this scale very stressful, so when planning a move, it’s really important to plan for your dog as well.
- You’ve got lots going on, and it’s easy for normal day to day patterns to get totally disrupted at this time: this is all the more reason to focus on your dog, maintaining as many routines as possible (walks, beach, dog park…).
- Begin smaller aspects of the packing bit by bit to get him used to it well ahead of time, and include him in this as play, with rewards. For the more disruptive parts of the move, have him otherwise occupied (with a family member or neighbor).
- If the move is local, take him on drives and walk around the area, followed by visits to the beach or dog park, familiarize himself with the area, and create a positive association.
In your (his) new home
- Remember the importance of routines for dogs? No matter how much you’ve got on your hands with settling in, re-establishing old routines is priority #1 for helping him settle in his new home!
- Familiarity is important. Now is not the time to do a spring clean! Make sure he has all his old bedding, bowls, blanket, and toys, as well as items of your own worn clothing.
- Be Patient! If your dog’s behavior changes for the worse, this may be his way of dealing with stress, which can manifest itself in destructive behavior, chewing, defecating. Getting annoyed won’t help; it will just make him afraid of you and actually slow things down!
- Calming products may help. Consider Adaptil Calm Home Plug-In Diffuser / Adaptil Calm Collar, both with Dog Appeasing Pheromones.
- Through a Dog’s Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion. Music by Joshua Leeds and Lisa Spector, which they claim “is twice as effective as conventional classical selections for reduction of canine anxiety behaviors”.
- Still worried? Stay in touch via Remote / Interactive Pet Camera, with live video, 2-way audio, some with treat dispensers.
- Interactive Dog Toys. He needs more care and attention at this time, so consider Interactive Dog Toys for when you’re out; toys stuffed with favorite treats provide distraction and much needed mental stimulation.
-Gerry Molloy, from Woof Advisor
How can we emotionally support a frightened cat during relocation to make him feel safe and calm?
Whether you’re moving across town or to a new country, familiarity is the key to a cat’s emotional wellbeing on either side of a move. There’s no way to take the strangeness out of moving, but you can bring pieces of the familiar into both your moving process and new home.
When you’re preparing to move, provide a sanctuary room where your cat can stay during the commotion of packing up. Your cat and his favorite blankets, toys, and other heavily marked, distinctively-scented items should be the last things to leave the house.
If you’re moving across town, you may be able to set up a similar room in your new home before your cat ever crosses the threshold. Just like the sanctuary room you created during the packing process, this room should contain heavily scented items like scratchers, beds, and toys, along with essentials like food, water, and a litter box.
Besides being a safe space where your cat can stay during the whirlwind and distraction of moving in, this room is a sanctuary of the familiar. Remember that cats use scent to help them connect, communicate, and navigate the world. Like a graft of home, the well-loved items in this room help your cat to recognize this strange space as their own.
Longer-distance moves don’t usually allow for this kind of preparation, but your cat’s carrier, lined with an old blanket or a used shirt, can serve as this sanctuary while you set up their room in the new house.
Familiar scents, well-marked items, and as much quiet as possible will help your cat to feel comfortable during and after your move to a new home. If your cat’s anxiety is severe or you’re worried about them getting carsick, you may also talk to your veterinarian about therapeutic treatments like synthetic pheromones or hemp-derived products.
-Mallory Crusta, Head of Content of All About Cats
What should we consider when bringing our pet on a long flight when relocating to another city or country?
The single most valuable resource in preparing for relocating with your pet is to talk to your veterinarian. Not only can they provide you with accurate health information about your pet’s ability and vulnerability to travel by air, but they can also help you ensure your pet’s travel documents and destination requirements are in order.
Pet travel insurance may seem like the ideal fit for your travel plans. Still, you likely won’t find a travel insurance policy that covers air travel unless you arrange for an approved pet relocation service to handle your pet’s transport. Air travel, especially in the cargo department, carries more risk than insurance companies are willing to cover.
If you’re moving overseas, you’ll need to apprise yourself of your destination’s restrictions on pets transported into their country.
If you want to bring your pets with you as you relocate by air travel, you’ll need to plan in advance. Typically, airlines limit the number of pets in the cabin, and once that quota is reached, they won’t allow any other animals onboard.
To prepare your animal for travel, you should make sure they spend time getting used to their travel kennel. If your pet is familiar with it, their stress will be lower. Your veterinarian may prescribe a calming medication, as well.
The easiest animals to take on an airplane are small pets because they can travel in the cabin. They have to fit under the seat in front of you in a travel kennel and still have room to move. A large breed dog obviously won’t be able to do this, and if you want them on your flight, the only option is to travel as cargo.
Unfortunately, however, most airlines have placed an embargo on pets in the cargo area of planes. If your cat or dog doesn’t fit under an airline seat, you must find another means of transport.
The following information is only applicable if the pet cargo embargo is lifted:
If airlines return to their previous pet travel restrictions, universally, you’ll need a cargo kennel for transport. Other than that general requirement, you’ll need to follow the individual airline requirements. For example, Delta won’t let you book a pet as cargo until 14 days before departure, while United allows booking 30 – 5 days before departure.
Each airline has a list of breeds that they won’t transport. And each airline has weather and seasonal restrictions. They may have travel dates (usually the summer months) where pets can’t travel in the cargo area due to potentially dangerous temperatures.
And they may also have weather restrictions where pet cargo travel is banned at temperatures above or below a set range.
The biggest thing to understand when relocating by plane with your pet is that you can’t assume it’s possible. You’ll need to follow airline restrictions and requirements, and you should be prepared to use a pet transportation service if commercial airline travel isn’t possible.
-Melanie Musson, pet insurance expert with Clearsurance.com
What can we do to reduce our cats’ stress and fear when air traveling to relocate to another city or country?
The first (and most important) step in planning any travel for your cat is dealing with its response to the carrier.
If the only time your cat is in the carrier is to go to the vet, chances are he will be stressed when the carrier comes out. This response requires desensitization, the act of gradually exposing the cat to the thing that causes him stress so that an unwanted behavior (fear) is replaced with a positive behavior (acceptance without fear).
Desensitization would consist of placing the open carrier where your cat likes to hang out. Take the door off and put soft bedding and toys inside it. You can then work on counter conditioning by offering treats and playtime so that the cat is conditioned to expect positive things rather than negative things when he is around or in the carrier. Pheromone products (like Feliway) act as a calming agent so spraying the bedding and carrier also helps. The key to desensitize or counter condition your cat is to take it slow and easy. Never rush this process, and that means you need to start the process long before the day of travel.
Once the cat has acclimated to the carrier, put the door back on and then take your cat on some short trips and reward him with his favorite treats. Clean the carrier between uses and return it to the spot in the house where it was before.
If you have success in getting your cat to accept the carrier, the hardest part of the battle is won regardless of the mode of travel.
I only recommend air travel if the cat is in the cabin with you. Airline rules vary so you will need to check beforehand. Cats are highly anxious when they are in an unfamiliar place or situation without their human. Being in the cabin with you will help reduce his anxiety.
Car travel is much easier to set up but it has its dangers too. Don’t take your cat out of the carrier while you are driving. The cat is not acclimated to the car but has been (hopefully) acclimated to the carrier, which will be his safe space. A freaked-out cat zooming around the interior of your car isn’t good for the cat, you or the other people on the road! If you take the cat out of the carrier when you are stopped make sure the cat has a harness and leash. Too many cats have been lost when they run out of the car as soon as the door is open.
You may enjoy traveling with your cat so much you might want to do it again. Check out “Adventure Cats” on Instagram and see how many people enjoy excursions with their feline friends.
-Anita Aurit from Feline Opines
What can we do to reduce our dog’s anxiety and fear when air traveling to relocate to another city or country?
What if the first time you went to the dentist (were you 4 or 5 years old?) they gave you a root canal instead of a lollipop? You would have certainly not gone back without a lot of protest and dread! Even though the ultimate result of the surgery was a much happier and healthier mouth, the journey almost made it not worth the destination.
Keep this in mind when you are planning to take your pet with you on your next vacation, or even if you are moving and they will be making the trip with you by plane or a long car ride. There is a reason why kids get treats or toys as positive reinforcement in their early trips to the dentist; it’s to ensure an overall positive experience and to reduce future anxiety. Keep this strategy in mind when planning future trips with your pets and start that positive reinforcement NOW.
At some point, your dog or cat will need to be introduced to a crate or carrier of some sort, whether it’s for a quick trip to the vet across town or an airplane flight across the country. Don’t let his or her first experience be one that is so fraught with anxiety and fear of the unknown. Introduce a crate to your dog or cat as soon as you are able (it’s not too late, start today!) and make it a positive place where snacks or toys are discovered, where naps are had, and where comfort is found. Name the space (“crate”, “kennel”, “your bed” etc.) and have your pet spend increasing amounts of time in their space.
Remember that the car can be a source of anxiety too, as some animals experience motion sickness in the same way that people do. Introduce your pet to short rides in the car, during which they are either contained in a crate or secured in a harness designed to buckle into the vehicle’s safety restraint system. Try to limit the number of treats you provide so you do not upset their stomach during the ride, and provide fresh air and water breaks as needed.
Traveling with your pet can be a very positive experience for all involved, as long as you take the time ahead of the trip to familiarize them with the basics of containment, motion, and reinforcement.
-Heather Corum, CPDT-KA, Obedience Operations Manager at Canine Company
Which tips and tricks can you give us on keeping cats stress-free for air travel?
Traveling with pets is a specialized process, not only are we moving delicate creatures unable to fully express their emotions or discomforts, but we are also moving our client’s family. While the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) can guide correct protocols to make sure the correct systems are in place for relocating pets domestically or internationally, one thing that we cannot control is the stress levels experienced by pets while traveling. We can make sure that the travel crate is ventilated, and that the correct size and the right amount of meshing are used to keep pets safe for travel. The psychological state of a pet before and during travel, however, is left in the hands of pet owners.
Cats can, at times, be fickle creatures; they have acute senses and mannerisms that only their cat parents feel they understand. That’s why comfort is key in making sure trips are kept as stress-free as humanely and felinely possible. Remember that often, the more pedantic and stressed a cat parent is, these emotions can be picked up by feline travelers and result in a stressed, anxious pet.
Kennel Training is a critical process for ensuring that cats are comfortable and feel secure during travel. This is also something that can start in the early stages of relocation. Crate training can start 4 months before relocation with the crate door open and a few treats inside the crate. Let the cat discover the crate on its own with a few comfort items inside. As your cat becomes more comfortable in the crate, complete a few trips around the neighborhood in your car with the cat in the crate. Once they become more settled and relaxed complete a longer road trip, especially on the highway with faster speeds to mimic airplane sounds.
Herbal calmatives are another trick for keeping cats calm during travel. Calmeeze is an herbal gel that can be applied between cats’ toes. As they groom themselves, they will naturally self-administer the Calmeeze to keep them relaxed during extended travel. Make sure cats are given this gel before any stressful situation or travel to prevent anxiety or added stress. No medicated sedatives or tranquilizers should ever be administered for traveling pets, unless under extreme circumstances and at the explicit prescription of a registered veterinarian. Be aware, however, that even if prescribed and administered by a registered veterinarian, that a traveling pet may be declined by an airline for travel due to tranquilization.
Containment – Before a big trip, make sure you keep cats in a quiet, closed room. Cats can sense when something big is about to happen and have a bad habit of bolting when change is coming. Make sure that 24 hours before your trip to keep cats in a closed room with no open windows, while ensuring they have access to a litter tray, food, and water.
Crate Comforts – Make sure that you have a small blanket or t-shirt that smells like home before travel. We recommend purchasing a blanket and using it as the family blanket for tv time. Keep a t-shirt in the crate for crate training and later for relocation. Having the same t-shirt in the crate will provide familiarity during travel. When the time comes for relocation, place the family blanket as a base above the travel mat. This will provide the smell of home and familiarity that will alleviate stress during long travel.
Limited Feeding – Generally the rule of thumb is that cats should only be fed 6 hours before travel and usually something easily digestible. Allow them to have water up until travel time in small sips. The change in flight and routine means they will have a limited appetite either way.
Keep your routine – Cats love their routine so don’t change schedules trying to hide the pending move. Make sure that they still have access to all toys, scratch posts, and comfort items for as long as possible and keep them in the same areas while still showing them continuous love and care.
What can we do to reduce our cat’s distress and fear when relocating and he/she will be air traveling in the cargo section of the plane?
Traveling cargo could be a hair-raising experience for a kitty; they can become overwhelmed with the noise, scents, and movements of the plane. The best advice is to ask your veterinarian for a medication called Gabapentin. It is usually prescribed for neuropathic pain, but it has nice anti-anxiety effects and is relatively side-effect-free. The first pill should be given the night before and the second pill one hour prior to departure from home. Most cats do great with a 100mg capsule. In addition, using Feliway pheromone spray inside the carrier and towel/bedding will relax your kitten traveler. There are a variety of calming collars, but if your cat doesn’t usually wear one, this might cause more stress. In reality, preparations should start several days earlier by putting the carrier out with the door wide open to allow your cats to familiarize themselves with it. I advise including a nightshirt inside the carrier because your cat will receive constant comfort by smelling your scent. Attach a water bottle to the cage; it would be beneficial to train your cat to use it in advance of the official travel day, place multiple treats in the carrier, if your kitty calms down, then it is a reward while in transit. Any favorite toys or blankets? My kitties have them, so I always pack them in their carriers. Remember that anything that helps bring sensory information that says “familiar “ and “home” will help keep your kitty calm, and this will create a better experience. Do not feed a full meal right before going to the airport; an emptier stomach will avoid vomiting accidents caused by stress nausea. Make sure to encourage your kitty to use the litter box beforehand; a neat trick is to pour new litter. It seems irresistible. They have to use it immediately, thus avoiding the unpleasant experience of sitting in their own waste for hours.
-Mitsie Vargas DVM, MS, CVMM, CTCVMP at Orchid Springs Animal Hospital
How can I make my pet feel comfortable before a plane ride?
The most important thing when traveling with a dog on a plane is making him feel comfortable and safe. For that, we recommend making your dog comfortable being in a crate, so days prior to your trip, make sure he sleeps there and eats there, too. Another tip would be to make him tired right before the trip and make him walk so he is too tired to care about being on a plane. Another thing people recommend is to give him special medication, but for that, make sure to go to your veterinarian first. In the crate, make sure to add his favorite toy, pillow, or blanket, enough food and water, and space for him to move.
– Jazmin Harb, Co-founder and Writer at Travel to Blank
What kind of precautions should we take to keep our pets safe when moving to a new home?
“Relocating to a new home is never easy. It takes time for people to adjust to new surroundings and even more time for it to feel like home. Not only do we deal with stress while moving, but so do our pets! As pet parents, we need to make sure we take steps along the way to help make the process as comfortable as we possibly can for our furry friends.
Proper Identification: If you do not normally use a collar on your pet, it would be good to do so now. It is extremely important to have a tag on your pet with your updated contact information so that it works as the first line of defense to getting your pet safely home. Our PetHub QR-coded tags can provide your information, your pet’s information and can also hold their medical records in one convenient location. We also highly recommend microchipping your pet as a final safety net. Since your animal could be a flight risk while adapting to its new home, it is important to have all information up to date and important medical records on hand.
Bonus tip: If you are traveling by plane or car, we recommend putting your information on your crate as well, just in case. Check out our PetHub Crate Card!
Adapting: It is important to introduce your pet to their new environment. If you have a dog, make sure you spend quality time introducing them to the neighborhood. Walk them around, so they get to know the area. If you have a cat that is an indoor/outdoor cat and you’ve relocated-even if it’s in the same city, keep your cat indoors for 14 days. If a cat has just been relocated or is in a new environment and gets out during the first few days, it’s very likely to get lost and become disoriented.
We understand that every pet is different in the way they do things or feel comfortable. You know your pet the BEST, and we encourage you to be extra observant of your furry friend during your move.”
-Casey DeArmon, from PetHub
What are some ways to make moving a positive experience for our furry loved ones?
Moving house is often an unsettling time for the whole family, so it’s no wonder it’s an especially confusing time for our furry best friends!
We moved house just last year, and there were a couple of things we did to make the move as stress-free as possible for our cocker spaniel Ziggy.
Here are our top two tips to make the move a positive experience for your pup:
- Gradually introduce your dog to your new home
Before the move, take your dog to the new house for a few visits so they can get familiar with the surroundings and new smells. Make sure you bring a few familiar items with you, such as their bed or toys, to help them feel more settled. Having treats on hand will also help your dog associate the new home with positive rewards!
- Provide a safe space during the move
Making sure your pup has a quiet, secure area to retreat to will help them avoid much of the chaos that comes with moving house. This way, if they feel overwhelmed or unsettled, they’ll have a safe space to go to. This can be a crate or their bed set up in a quiet area of the house. Having a familiar blanket or toy for them to cuddle will also help them to feel comfortable and at ease. This is another reason it’s a good idea to familiarize your pup with your new home beforehand. When you move, they will already be familiar with the space, which will go a long way to helping them be at ease as much as possible.
Although moving is stressful, try to remember that dogs are so good at reading our energy and emotions. So, try to be as calm and reassuring around your dog as much as possible, especially in your new home.
Providing a calm environment and positive reinforcement together will make your move a positive experience for your pup.
– Katy & Shell, Dog Lifestyle Editors at Pretty Fluffy
How can I make my cat feel comfortable during a long car ride?
A long car ride isn’t fun for anyone, especially pets. Our best tips are to prepare early and practice often. The more your cat is in the car, the more comfortable they’ll be with the concept. Remember, when your cat’s being put into unfamiliar situations, there’s a good chance it will make your car trip longer and more stressful.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make traveling with your cat easier. Let’s start with the most important one: preparing early. Whenever you can, get your cat in the car and take them around the block. Not only will this give them time to explore their new surroundings, but it will also get them used to the motions. This is super essential if you’re looking to avoid motion sickness!
Next up, be prepared with aids, toys, comforts, and more. In our opinion, investing in a cat carrier is highly essential when going on a long car ride with a cat. A carrier will keep your cat contained and prevent them from getting loose or wreaking havoc whilst driving. Even if you think your cat is well-behaved and docile, having them loose can be fatal in an accident.
Other tips include making sure you stop often to let your cat stretch its legs, keep them hydrated and fed, and always keep their go-to things nearby. Take your time, and enjoy the ride!
-Courtney Kotze at The Door Buddy
How can I prepare my pet turtle for a long drive before moving house?
The best way to transport a turtle for a long drive is with a plastic container. Make sure the container is at least two times the size of your turtle. However, you don’t want it to be too big because you don’t want your turtle sliding around a lot. I suggest that you put some soft material at the bottom of the container, such as a paper towel or newspaper. You could also put a small rag at the bottom of the container. It is very important that you poke a lot of holes in the lid of the container so that your turtle has enough air to breathe. Your turtle will be fine without water for a day or two, but if you want to be safe, you can mist your turtle with a spray bottle every couple of hours during your trip. When it comes to food, I suggest that you don’t feed your turtle the day before your trip. Turtles can go multiple days without eating, and if you feed them the day before the trip, they might pee or poop during the journey. Lastly, it is important that you regulate the temperature of your car. Your turtle should be fine at room temperature for a couple of days, but make sure they are not directly next to the air conditioner or directly in sunlight.
-Dillion at TurtleHolic.com
As you can see, there are many things pet parents can do to ease the nervousness and distress that fluffy babies have to go through every time you decide to travel with your pet or move to a new home. Whether it is next door or across the country, make sure to follow the expert’s advice to keep your pets healthy and safe at all times, and you can even take advantage of having a new place to design the perfect space for your pet in your new home.