By Erica Radhakrishnan


We all know that moving can be stressful, so much so that the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory considers “changes in residence” and  “taking on a mortgage” major life events that could lead to a health breakdown.  This can be true for our pets, as well.  Whether you move across country or simply across town, changing households can impact your pet’s mental and physical wellbeing.  However, proper planning and pet-friendly decisions can minimize the stress your fur baby feels during a move.

Keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible during the move.


Decisions to Consider Before a Move

If a move is on the horizon, take your pet’s wellbeing into consideration prior to committing to a specific home or apartment.  Some questions to answer:

• Is the neighborhood home to any aggressive dogs?

• Is the apartment pet friendly?  If so, does the apartment management have weight or breed restrictions?

• Is the space large enough to accommodate a cat’s need to climb?

• Is there a fenced yard or ample space to walk your dog?

• How far away is a regular vet?

• Where is the nearest animal emergency hospital located?


Packing and Moving Tips

• Prior to packing, make sure your pet’s nametag and chip information is up to date.  If your pet accidentally escapes during the chaos of a move, proper identification will be important.   

• Make sure your pet is wearing their collar and tags.

• Pets are smart and know when life is about to change.  If possible, allow them to sniff and explore boxes.   (Keep an eye on male dogs; they may attempt to “mark” their territory).

• If you will be moving a long distance, crate train your pet in advance.

• Keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible during the move.

• On moving day, keep your pets kenneled, at a friend’s house, or crated in a small, quiet room with a closed door to prevent them from accidentally slipping out of the house.

• Pack all of your pet’s essentials in a readily accessible space.  These will include food, water, bowls, treats, comfort items, bedding and litter material, a leash, “poop bags”, veterinary and identification records.   

• Move your pets in the family vehicle including fish, birds, and other small mammals.


Moving In

• Before you set your pets free in their new home, discard any pest-control poison traps and check that your yard is free of poisonous plant hazards.

• Create their space – where they eat, drink, sleep, and litter box location.

• Incrementally introduce them to the new space allowing them to adjust to each room.

• If you need to relocate your cat’s litter box from its original location, do so gradually to minimize accidents.

• Cats are territorial.  If your new home is not far from the old, use caution when letting them outside.  They may return to familiar haunts or simply wander off.

• Ease your cat into outdoor pursuits.  First acclimate them to their new home.  Once settled indoors, accompany your cat outside for short periods of time, possibly on a leash.   Gradually increase the amount of time spent outdoors.  Establish an outdoor/indoor routine and use good judgment before letting them go unattended.  Do not feed your cat before letting them out.  This will encourage them from wandering too far from home.  There is no set amount of time this process will take.  It is personality dependent.