It’s no secret that my husband and I are not newbies when it comes to moving. In the 8 years we have been together, we have lived in 9 different places. Yikes! Even though we think we have this moving thing down, it always ends up being very stressful, and not organized AT ALL! Luckily this time, we have a company that is coming in, packing everything up, and moving it for us–but that is for a totally different post.
Moving is stressful for anyone. I bet there isn’t one person out there that would say “I LOVE packing up all of my belongings, and hauling them around, then unpacking them in a totally different place”. When we move, we tend to get focused on all of the things that we still have left to pack, clean, or what have you, and tend to forget about taking care of our four legged family members. Today I want to talk about some important steps to take when you are moving, to ensure the safety, and well being of your pets.
My cats are 6 years old, and have moved with us 5 times. This will be the 6th house they have lived in. Our dog has moved 3 times and this will be her 4th home. Even though they have gone through it before (and probably know the signs of what is coming) it’s always a good idea to make sure their stress levels stay down.
For cats, especially male cats, keeping that level of stress down is not only important for their mental health, but it is really important for their physical health too. Feline Idiopathic Cystitis is very common among the cat population, and can be a very serious condition if not monitored and treated properly. Unfortunately I have a lot of personal experience with this syndrome in BOTH of my cats. It usually only happens during stressful situations (moving, or home remodels) and can put a lot of strain–no pun intended–on everyone.
Cats aren’t the only ones that can suffer from stress though. Dogs can become anxious, clingy, destructive to property, and sometimes in extreme cases of stress, aggressive. While Delilah is pretty anxiety ridden, I have never had a problem with her becoming destructive or aggressive. As long as she doesn’t feel threatened, and she knows that we won’t leave her behind, she has fared pretty well in the past.
So what can you do to make moving easier for your pet–and you?
1. Create a safe place where they can go to get away from all of the noise and commotion.
Before you even start packing up boxes, or moving furniture around, set up an area of the home just for your pet. Make sure it is a space that can remain relatively untouched until the big day. For your dogs, this can be as simple as their kennel–if they have one–or their bed. For cats, it can be a closet, laundry room, bathroom or bedroom, where they have access to their litter box and food/water. My cats even like to hide in their cat carrier (as long as I’m not stuffing them in it to take them somewhere, they LOVE that thing). And William loves to hide under my long hanging dresses in our closet. If you have multiple cats, unless they are inseperable, it’s always a good idea to have a space for each one. That way there is no guarding of resources, or unnecessary fighting.
Wow, where do I begin with this one. First off, I am a HUGE believer in Pheromones in both cats and dogs. Not only are they a huge help in relieving stress, but they also help with so many other problems. I think I could totally write another article on using Pheromones in cats especially. But, to not make this post 5 days long, I’ll stick to the minimum. Think of Pheromones as chemical communicators. Animals use these to signal to other animals. The pheromones used in your typical cat and dog calming sprays or collars, are the same Pheromones that are released from the mother cat/dog during nursing–it has that calming affect. Starting to see just how this can really make a difference? For my own personal cats, I keep a NurtureCALM Pheromone Collar on them most of the time. You can also use diffusers and sprays like this and this. For dogs, they also make collars and sprays. D.A.P or Dog Appeasing Pheromones, are the brand that my Veterinarian recommends.
3. Get them used to the presence of the carrier or crate.
I mentioned before that my cats love to sleep in their carrier, even though they hate being stuffed in it for a car trip. The easiest way to get your cat, or dog, used to a carrier or crate, is to bring it out days before you need to use it. This goes for routine vet visits or car trips too. If you bring it out the day of, your pet will only associate the carrier with bad things. If you bring it out, and maybe spray it with some pheromone spray, a few days beforehand, your pet will be used to it’s presence and not be as panicked when you put them in it.
4. Ask your Veterinarian for anti-anxiety medication.
Sometimes, you just have to “drug” your pets, just to take the edge off. There are times, and situations, where you can take all of the steps to make moving easier, but your pet will still lose it’s mind. There are a few drugs that can help your pets transition a little bit easier, that your Veterinarian can prescribe. ALWAYS remember to consult your Veterinarian before you give any medications, whether prescription or over the counter, to your pets. Animals have much different tolerances on medications than humans do, so always play it safe and ask first.
5. Make sure there is always plenty of fresh water.
In the hustle and bustle, sometimes you can forget to keep an eye on the water/food bowls. It’s important that your pets always have fresh water, and plenty of it, at all times. I recommend having a water bowl in designated pet safe area we talked about in step 1. Cats (and dogs) can go into hiding when they are stressed, and that means they may not want to come out to find their water or food bowls. Make it easier on them by keeping one in their safe room, and one where you would normally keep it.
What are some other things you do, or have done, to make moving easier on your pet? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!