We know that planning, packing and the move itself can be a stressful experience for you and your furry friends, so here are our top tips to ensure things go smoothly:
Consider boarding your pet at their regular cattery or kennels, or with friends or family, while you move (remember that all vaccinations, flea and worming treatment must be up to date).
Check you have everything you need (car harness or travel crate, cat carrier, travel bowls, etc). Ask your vet for advice if necessary, particularly if the journey is a long one.
If using a removal company, make them aware that you’re moving with a pet. Notify your pet insurance provider of the change of address and sign up with a new vet if you’re heading out of the area.
Choose a room to pack up early and make it home base for your pet. Feed meals there and kit it out with their bed and toys, plus a litter tray and scratch post for cats. Hold off on washing bedding – the smell will give them a sense of security.
“When moving house, always make plans ahead of time for what will happen to your pets on the move day itself.”
If you’ve decided against boarding your pet, shut them in your chosen room early on move day, with windows closed and a sign on the door for movers and family members to avoid accidental escapes. If you have a kitty that can go outside, you may want to lock the cat flap the night before.
Feed your pet as normal (but not too close to travelling) and try to set aside some time to stroke or play with them for reassurance. They may benefit from a calming pheromone spray or plug-in (available online or from your vet or local pet store).
Leave moving your pet until the very last minute. Make sure they are on their lead or in their crate or carrier before opening the door.
Unpack your pet’s new home base first! Keep them secure until a room has been set up with their familiar items and pop that sign back on the door.
Dogs and cats use scent to mark their territory, so gently rub your pet’s face with a cotton cloth then dab at strategic points throughout the house to make it smell like home.
Once you’re settled, close doors and windows and let your pet out for a little exploration.
If possible, spend a few days after the move at home with your pet – your presence will help them see the new house as their happy place. Feeding smaller meals more regularly can also reinforce your bond.
Getting back into a routine will reassure your pet that everything’s fine – pick a place to feed them and for cats to use the litter tray, and try not to tell them off if accidents happen.
Our Deputy Head of Animal Welfare Tanya Madden advises waiting at least three weeks before reintroducing your cat to the great outdoors. In the meantime, sprinkle some used litter around the perimeter of your garden to let neighbourhood felines know there’s a newcomer. When ready, let your cat out in the morning, before they’ve been fed, so there’s an incentive to come back. Allow them to explore at their own pace, then after ten minutes or so shake their treats to call them in for a tasty reward. Gradually increase the length of outings, but save after-dark excursions until they’re confident in their new territory, and be aware of things like fireworks or storms which could disorientate them. There’s no need to keep dogs inside, but make sure your garden is secure and walk them on-lead for the first few weeks.
Cats especially bond strongly with their home turf, so if you’re not moving far there’s a chance they may be tempted to return. It’s less likely with dogs, but not unheard of! Put safeguards in place by giving the new owners or a neighbour your number and asking them to call if your pet comes knocking. If it does happen, don’t panic – simply repeat the previous steps (scent marking, routine, reassurance) to help your pet realise their new home is where they want to be!
Microchipping your pet is the best way to ensure that if they go missing before, during or after the move, you will quickly be reunited. If your pet is already chipped, be sure to update your registered contact details. Mayhew offers low-cost microchipping at our Community Vet Clinic. Find out more below, or call 020 8962 8017 to book.find out more
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