On the move Planning will make a change of address easier on your pet
By GINA SPADAFORI
Even in an off year, the housing market traditionally picks up in the spring, as families who need to change residences get moving so the children can be settled into the new neighborhood before the next school year begins.
But moving is tough on families, pets included. Animals always know when something’s amiss, even if they can’t understand exactly what’s changing, or why.
The key to moving pets is to keep them secure before and during the move, and to settle them safely and quickly into a routine afterward.
Cats are a particular worry at moving time because they form a bond not only with the people in a home, but also with the home itself. Because of their mobility, cats can be difficult to keep around the new home long enough for them to realize that this is where the people they love will now stay.
The family dog is a bit easier to deal with: Put his leash on and drive him to his new address. Show him his new, warm home and the securely fenced back yard. Unless the dog is a high-jumper of Olympic caliber, he’ll stay put while he adjusts.
Not so with free-roaming cats. The cases of cats returning to their previous homes are common for people who move short distances, and the instances of cats disappearing forever are just as common for families moving a great distance.
Confinement is essential when moving cats: It keeps them safe while they become used to their new territory and make it their own. Bring your cat inside, if he’s not already an indoor cat, before the movers arrive. Set him up in a “safe room” — a spare bathroom or bedroom is ideal — and leave him be. Provide him with food and water, his bed, a scratching post, litter box and a couple of favorite toys while the packing and moving is under way.
The cat’s ride to the new home is best undertaken in a carrier, especially for the cat who rarely sees the inside of a car.
At the new home, work the “leaving home” procedure in reverse: Put the cat into a “safe room” for a few days — until the movers are gone, the furniture arranged and most of the dust settled — and then allow him to explore inside the house on his own terms after things calm down a bit.
Quickly re-establish a routine. Pick a time and a place for feeding, and stick to it for all pets.
If you’ve been thinking about converting your free-roaming cat to a house dweller for his health and safety, moving to a new home is the perfect time to accomplish this. In your old home, you’d be constantly listening to your cat demanding to be let out into the rest of his territory. In a new home, he hasn’t established any territory of his own yet, and you can make the new home his only turf by keeping him inside from day one.
If you don’t want to convert him, keep him inside for a couple of weeks, until he seems relaxed. You can introduce your cat to the new yard by accompanying him on short tours with a harness and a leash. But in the end, you’ll have to take your chances, open the door and hope for the best.
Moving is stressful for all, but taking a little extra care when it comes to your pets will help to move them safely and with a minimum of stress and mess at the new home.