We just moved my youngest into her dorm in San Diego at Point Loma Nazarene University this weekend. Yes, yes I am a wreck. And I’m also beyond excited for her days ahead.
Because that wasn’t enough stress and emotion for one weekend, we moved our 2 family cats to San Diego to live with our oldest daughter at the same time.
Moving is a stressful situation for everyone but can be especially challenging for feline family members who aren’t generally as socialized as dogs are. When my husband and I were first married we moved to Amarillo, TX for a couple of years. One of our cats was so traumatized during the move that he was never the same cat again. He lived most of the rest of his days in our dresser drawer. We were hoping to avoid such trauma for our beloved furry friends, Coconino and St. Nicholas. To that end, here are my tips for moving with your kitties:
Pre-plan – a little planning ahead will go a long way. Get the carrier you’ll be using out several days in advance. Let them get used to it. Put their favorite treats, toys, blankets, etc. in it. Make appointments with the vet and any other providers helping with the move. Pack a bag with food and other essentials that you may need during the day of the move.
Vet check – we wanted to talk to the Vet about the possibility of some anxiety medication and any other recommendations for their trip. While we were there we got them a full well check, their rabies booster, and documentation that allowed us to transport them across state lines. Troopers can and will ask for this documentation and you might be asked at the state border, too. Additionally, our vet recommended some anxiety medication that would relax them but not knock them out. She said that some of the other meds make it so they can’t react but they’re still experiencing the fear and anxiety…they just can’t express it. This particular med made them a little slow but they didn’t care about much at all (either good or bad). By planning ahead we had time to try it at home prior to our trip to make sure they reacted well.
Know your individual pets – while it’s probably not recommended for many pets, we let one of the cats out of the carrier while driving. Knowing their personalities helped make things more comfortable for her and us. Ultimately, she wound up wandering the car a little bit but spent much of the ride sleeping on my laptop bag (a favorite place to lay) and on her favorite blanket on my daughter’s lap. The other cat was much more comfortable staying in the carrier. **Make sure to be extra careful to secure the pet again prior to getting out of the car so that there is no risk of them getting loose in an unfamiliar place. Another suggestion is to cover the carrier so they can’t see things happening. It was so hot that we decided that wasn’t the best idea.
Make the new home welcoming – bring favorite things from home that they’ll recognize and enjoy. Toys, beds, treats, etc. Our Vet also recommended a plug in diffuser and some wipes that release pheromones in order to help the cats feel more comfortable. It’s also a good idea to let them explore smaller areas of the home at a time instead of being overwhelmed with the whole thing at once.
With some planning and patience, hopefully your pet will be settled into your (their) new home quickly and lovingly. After a couple of days our kitties seem to be making themselves right at home in their new digs.
If you are thinking about making a move to or from the Phoenix area (or anywhere, actually), we’d love to help you in the process! Email [email protected] or call 480.560.7255.