PREPARE | PLAN | EXECUTE
How to Move with your Pet, half way through Pandemic 2020 and we’re starting to wonder if we’ll ever leave our homes, travel or lead a ‘normal life’ again. We will, clichéd as it sounds, as long and dark as a tunnel appears to be there is a light at the end.
Through the mayhem, loss and sadness our constants and our strengths have been our pets. For those who did not have pets shelters were cleared out as human beings realized, their best companions are animals.
So if and when you move – with our shrinking global borders, we move internally as well as internationally- across borders, continents, and oceans! This guide is to help you consider how to move with your pet and keep them safe.
Pets should always be a part of your moving plans. If you do not have a pet and have a faint idea that a move is on the horizon – please wait to bring one into your family. Do not displace a pet or worse ‘surrender’ one to a shelter because the moving process becomes to complicated, expensive, sadly in many cases, people loose interest.
Moving Internationally with a pet, is a long and expensive procedure. Vaccine certificates, pet history and quarantines are processes best handled by professional pet relocators.
“Island countries” may have stringent quarantine protocols. This is because should the incidence of rabies be lower, in a region/ country which has the physical advantage of being detached from a mainland – understandably they want to maintain that level of safety.
It is not impossible to take your pets with you, it just makes it harder, and in most cases more expensive. Research the death rate in the particular quarantine facility where your cat or dog will be housed. It is not uncommon for pets to contract diseases in quarantine facilities, they may not be fatal infections, nevertheless, a healthy pet may emerge quarantine with an illness.
Moving is an adult activity. Centring around work opportunities and making a better life for your family. As our globe shrinks, you may one day be presented with an opportunity to work overseas, a great career enhancer and invaluable life and work experience. Think age is your pet too old to move, if the move is not permanent and you have a say 16 year old dog, make a decision as a family, are you in a position to delay your move ? The complications and financial burdens of moving half a family (overseas) and joining up in time sound good on paper. And feel good rambling Facebook posts about life on two continents managing animals, is a far removed from real life. In the final analysis you give in to the financial viability of a situation. It does not mean you do not love your pets. Sometimes love is unaffordable.
Children and pets in a new place – Your child’s emotional support
What about the kids? they’re often uprooted from friends and family to a new city or country. Add to that a new school, and if you’ve moved to a different country may be language barriers. Kids adapt, quicker than adults, so often they’ll settle in and come home on day 3 of school with a new best friend! Keep in mind, there is one best friend- their pet – who makes the move easier. The family pet is your child’s confidant and best friend.
GETTING YOUR PETS USED TO YOUR NEW NEIGHBOURHOOD
If you are moving within a city, great, it gives you and your pet the opportunity to go on a reconnaissance and check out the closest dog park, waking route and meet your new neighbours.
Take your cat to check out their new home. Before you do make sure your cat is comfortable in a cat harness. They are an inexpensive way to keep them safe when you take them outdoors. To give them a sense of freedom, get an extra long leash, and extend it gradually as your cat becomes familiar with its environment.
FEEDING YOUR PETS WHEN YOU MOVE
Food concerns are real- if you move oversees and your pet is used to a brand of food check ahead of time if it is available. If you are moving over seas keep in mind that in certain countries foods like beef and pork, while they may not be banned for religious reasons are harder to find. In many cases that extends to the availability of pet foods which contain those ingredients. If the food your cat or dog is used to is not available start transitioning before you move. Don’t make every experience your pet has ‘a first’ when they move.
Check out your neighbourhood online especially if you are moving overseas- find out where the closest pet shop is located.
HOW ARE PETS VIEWED GLOBALLY?
Each country looks upon pets differently. They’re loved members of every family. But certain behaviours or allowances we give our pets may shock or be “frowned” upon in other countries and cultures. In the United States, “kissing” your pet is acceptable which in eastern cultures may shock your new neighbour! So be mindful if you move overseas with a pet.
Keep your microchip up to date or invest in a GPS tracker. Get a pet tag before you move with your name and number. A tag should always have the name and a telephone number (with a country code ) as our world shrinks remember you could have moved half way across the globe but numbers are a universal language.
ARE PETS ALLOWED?
Should a landlord, building association or any such body require you to declaw your cat to reduce wear and tear on the home or furniture (assuming you move to a furnished home or apartment) call the authorities and report them.
Declawing is a cruel procedure and in many states across the US is outlawed, as well as many countries across the world. Vets and cat parents recognise that declawing deprives the cats of basic natural behaviours. We are able to provide them with plenty of toys/ substitutes and devices to carry out natural behaviours of kneading.
CLIMATE & YOUR PET
It is important to consider when you move- is the climate and size of house / apartment or residence you are moving to suitable for your pet? Take into consideration the climate if you have a long haired or cold climate dog breed. Is your cat or dog suited to the climatic conditions of your new home?
BREEDS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Brachycephalic breeds– pugs, boxers, Persian cats – all the flat faced family of pets, are the ones to watch out for, talk to your veterinarian. Check on the viability and safety of flying a ‘smash face’ pet especially if it is a long journey. No matter the breed, your pet must be fit enough to withstand a long journey via road or air.
HOW SAFE IS THE AIRLINE CARRIER?
Ask for airline safety history. If you use the services of a pet relocation check out their credentials- use the power of social media to check out their track record and history. The same for a pet ‘relocator’, this is not time to be polite, ask tough questions, if they hesitate with an answer- walk away.
CATS AND MOVING
The single most important thing you can do for your cat is to ensure they move into a secure home. Windows, doors, any entrances and exist are closed or covered with mesh doors. Check and double check all windows and doors have a mesh/ netting. This is especially important for doors if you are moving into a home. Keep that cat flap closed until your at settles into the new home. Cats don’t take well to change they are the pets to really pay attention to when you move. They are sensitive to change and many cat owners have reported cats running away or getting lost when they move.
CAT LITTER WHEN YOU MOVE!
Litter boxes, litter and what goes in it! Not the most exciting subject, but a necessary fact of life! For your cats, who hate change to begin with think abut litter box changes and brand of litter. Carrying bags of litter across the country or world is obviously impractical. Here’s a thought – carry a little of the familiar litter to give your cat a feel of the familiar. (Crazy cat ladies will agree with this one!) Set up the litter box and food bowls as soon as you can in a spot that does not change.
Photo Credit: Lucas Pezeta
Litter boxes, litter and what goes in it! Not the most exciting subject, but a necessary fact of life! For your cats, who hate change to begin with think abut litter box changes and brand of litter. Carrying bags of litter across the country or world is obviously impractical. Here’s a thought – carry the familiar litter to give your cat a feel of the familiar. (Crazy cat ladies will agree with this one!) Set up the litter box and food bowls as soon as you can in a spot that does not change.
Keep These Basics Constant for your Pet
– Feeding Bowls
– Food (do not change their diets abruptly- especially in a new home/place)
-Bedding/ sleeping blankets, beds- any item or object which is your pets night time comfort
– Leashes, collars, harnesses. No new ones when you move- you want as many items to remain familiar to your pets in their new environment.
Carry spares of everything!
DOCUMENTS TO KEEP HANDY
- Overseas travellers keep your pet passport handy
- Veterinary records past and present
- Pet licenses if required
- Your veterinarians contact (email/ telephone)
Moving is a stressful time for a family, taking a few preliminary steps and staying prepared. It makes the move easier on yourself and your pets. So as a family you can settle in and enjoy your new home!