What Advice Do You Have for Moving with Pets?

Pets are part of our families, and it’s important to take care of their needs during the move. Below are some guidelines for moving with furry, feathered and scaly friends.


While your cat may enjoy the appearance of lots of boxes, they will quickly get stressed out as you dismantle their home. Keep their feeding area, litter box, and sleeping areas unchanged until the last possible moment. Be sure to check boxes for hidden cats before sealing them. Keep them in a closed area on moving day, both to keep them calm and to prevent them from running out the door. A bathroom or empty bedroom is a good choice. Give them food, water, a litter box and a favorite rug, blanket or pillow. If you don’t have a place that can be completely closed off, put them in carriers and set the carriers in the bathtub while the movers work. For local moves, you may be best having the your cats boarded on moving day.

If you’re driving long distance, keep cats in carriers (one per carrier), and position the carriers so they can see each other or their human family. This will keep them safe in case of an accident, and keep them out from under the driver’s feet. Additionally, cats may get car sick, and it will be easier to clean out a carrier than underneath the passenger seat.  You probably want to restrict food after midnight before driving to lessen the chances of car sickness.

If you’re flying with cats, be sure the carrier will fit under the seat in front of you. Put something in the carrier that smells of you to help reassure them; be sure the carrier is labeled with your information. Also be sure your cat is wearing a collar and a tag with your contact info. You might want to ask your vet for ways to make the trip less stressful for your cat. 

It’s a good idea to keep your cats confined to one room for the first few days, then let them out to gradually explore their new surroundings. Your cat should adjust within a week, but watch for loss of appetite and any behavior changes, like an affectionate cat becoming withdrawn or aggressive. Consult a vet if you see any urinary changes, as this can be a sign of serious problems caused by stress.


It will probably be easier for your dog to adjust to the move than a cat, unless your dog is anxiety prone. If so, you’ll want to reassure her; consider using an anxiety vest if your dog is exhibiting signs like excessive shaking, panting, whining or barking. You may want to board your dog while the movers are in the house, both to keep her out from under feet and to avoid stresses. 

You’ll want to replicate the routines and structures from your old home in the new home. Determine in advance if there are areas that are out of bounds and close them off. If your dog has been crate trained, you’ll want to prioritize setting up his crate. Otherwise, set up his bed in as similar as spot possible. To encourage exploring the house, place toys or treats where your dog can find them. 

Before letting your dog out unsupervised, inspect fencing for gaps, holes or areas where your dog could get out.  It’s important to walk your dog around the neighborhood. This will help her find her way home if she gets loose. Be sure that your dog has tags with your current contact info; you might also want to have her microchipped. 

Small Animals and Birds

Small animals and birds are not allowed on the moving truck. For small rodents like guinea pigs, hamsters and the like, you’ll want a small travel crate that can easily fit in the car. Be sure that the animal can’t escape from it (including by chewing its way out), and that’s not likely to break. Small birds can be moved in their cages; for larger birds, like parrots and cockatoos, you’ll want to use a carrier. In the case of larger birds, take the time to let your bird get used to the carrier; you may also want to take if for a test drive. 

Be sure to consult your vet if you have specific concerns when it comes to small animals and birds. If you have a long way to travel, or if you won’t have room in the car, there are companies that can transport your furry or feathered friends for you.


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