Moving with Your Four-Legged Family Members

June 15, 2019 Moving / Organization Tips

If you read the last article in our moving series, You Can Survive a Move with Kids, you picked up some tips for making a move easier on kids. Pets are another factor that you need to consider during this transition. Their current home is their territory, and they’re going to need time and patience to adjust to a new environment. Dogs are social and their adjustment will be fairly easy, but cats tend to be more sensitive to their surroundings. Whether you’re moving a cat or a dog, try to ease the transition by maintaining the schedule that they are used to.

It goes without saying that you know your pet’s unique personality traits better than anyone, but moving can be chaotic and a few organized suggestions can be helpful. The following guidelines should help get you and your pet through this major life event. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to involve your kids in this process.

  1. Prepare a pet friendly “overnight kit” with food, treats, dishes, grooming tools, toys, and kitty litter to keep your buddy contented throughout the first few days of unpacking.
  2. If you’re moving out of state, or even out of your area, be sure to contact your vet so that you have medical records and necessary medication. Don’t forget to get a recommendation for a new veterinary practice.
  3. When moving day arrives, your pet should be away from the action. The best solution is to have your pet stay with a friend or in a kennel. If that’s not possible or you really want to keep your dog or cat with you, the next best solution is to keep them in a quiet, empty room with the door closed. Try to maintain their feeding and walking schedule and check on them at regular intervals. Giving them a sense of routine will be good for them and mean less headaches for you.
  4. If you’re able to drive to your new home, take your pet in your own vehicle so that there is a feeling of familiarity. If your drive is lengthy, plan your stops to ensure pet-friendly hotels. Be extra cautious (especially if your children are helping with pets), and use a leash when getting you pet out of the car and into the hotel. Many animals have been lost in unfamiliar surroundings this way.  If you’re traveling by air, check your specific airline for pet travel requirements. Always keep your pet’s vet records in your carry-on bag.
  5. As much as possible, set up at least one room in your home before introducing your pets to their new surroundings. Confine your animals to this area while they adjust to their new environment. Be sure they have familiar toys and blankets; and, as always, maintain their regular schedule.
  6. As soon as possible after the move, make sure your pet’s tags and microchip information are updated with your new address and phone number.

Keep in mind that dogs and cats will acclimate to their new home in different ways. Here are some final thoughts.


The sooner your dog gets used to the smells of his new environment, the sooner he will feel comfortable. Let him tour the new home inside and outside. Use a lease on the initial introduction until you’re sure he feels completely secure. Do not leave your dog unattended outside during this adjustment period. Dogs are known to be masters of escape in an effort to return to their familiar territory.


Don’t be surprised if your cat disappears for a few days. Without familiar surroundings, cats look for dark hiding places like closets or even under a bed. Keep doors and windows closed as your cat may try an escape in the hopes of locating familiar surroundings. Your cat may refuse to eat and become “forgetful” when it comes to using the litter box. Choosing a special room as a private refuge, complete with food, water, scratching post, and litter box, can sometimes work. Eventually, your cat will be comfortable enough to explore the new home, and you can place a second litter box in what you hope to be a permanent location.

Remember that pets and people will eventually acclimate to and enjoy their new environment. Planning, patience, and routine will get everyone back on track in no time!

Don’t forget to check out the next article in our moving series and catch up with our previous articles to help make your next move a breeze!

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