Moving house is a stressful time all-round, but for pets who don’t understand what’s going on, and probably haven’t completed the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it can be traumatic. When Battersea Dogs and Cats Home carried out a survey of over 1,100 pet owners who were moving house in London, nearly half admitted that their biggest concern about moving house was how their pets would react. That’s more than double the number of people who were worried about forgetting their new keys!
So cats have 9 lives, and as we want them to still have 9 after your move, here are 9 tips to help minimise your pet’s London house-moving stress…
It may be best if your pet is confined to one room during the packing stage. Allowing it free run of your home when there is so much upheaval might make it even more anxious. Conversely, animals can sense something is happening and might be tempted to run and hide in a favourite spot in the garden or at a neighbour’s. Worth bearing in mind.
Make sure your pet has all its favourite toys and bedding, and once you have moved, don’t wash its bedding for a little while, so it has some familiar smells to go with the unfamiliar, new ones. If your pet is not used to travelling in a carrier, put the carrier in its living area for a few days before you go so it becomes more familiar to your pet.
One of your pet’s fears will be that it isn’t coming with you, so give it plenty of attention and reassurance before, during and after your house move.
Both dogs and cats may try to return to their original home following a move. To stop that happening, it may be necessary to keep them inside, or under supervision if outside, for a few weeks once you’re in your new home. It’s probably best not to let them go outside unaccompanied for at least a week, and at the very least make sure they are wearing an up-to-date identity collar with your name and new address and phone number on. If your cat doesn’t protest too much, putting it on a specially designed cat lead while it gets to know its new outdoor surroundings is a good idea.
On moving day, don’t feed your pet for at least three hours before leaving the house. This will help avoid too many unpleasant accidents in the carrier during the move!
If you’re really concerned about your pet during all the disruption of packing up your home, you could consider putting it into a kennel or cattery for a few days, particularly if it’s been there before (when you’ve been on holiday, for example) and was happy there. Bear in mind that you’ll have to book your pet in some time in advance and you’ll need to make sure that all its vaccinations are up to date, as reputable establishments will ask to see a vaccination certificate.
Cats especially do not enjoy being sedated as the lack of control makes them feel anxious. However, if your vet is convinced that that is the best course of action for your particular pet, the vet may prescribe a mild sedative for your pet.
Dogs and cats (in particular) are territorial animals and moving into a new home will require your cat to mark out its territory. This can lead to conflict with other cats, which for the most part you should probably allow to take place. If you think your cat is getting into fights, check it on a regular basis for wounds.
Pets like familiarity, so try to stick to your normal routine for as long as possible in the lead-up to the move and then get back into it as quickly as you can in your new home, especially in terms of when they are fed and/or taken for a walk.
We’re all pet-lovers at Gentleman and a Van, and understand your animal related concerns. So long as you are aware of the potential issues, and solutions, then factoring your furry ones into your house move should not be too tricky. That said, it probably would be easier to have had goldfish…!