8 tips for moving house with pets

Kitten resized

They say no home is complete without one or two, but when it comes to moving house with pets it can be a challenge - as some of the entrants of our recent RightMove competition can attest…

In the days when people used to take their carpets with them when moving house, my mother – in the process of packing up and leaving – once went into a blind panic when Nicholas, their famously dippy family cat went missing. After spending hours looking, she and my grandmother finally gave up, left a note with the neighbour to ask them to keep an eye out and made the belated move from Kent to Devon…whereupon one of the carpets was unrolled in its new home to reveal a sheepish looking cat in the middle of it.”

“We had hired a moving van to bring the bulk of our stuff to our new house while we travelled in our car with our two snakes in travel cases in the boot. Opening the boot on arrival, I saw that one of the snake’s cases was open and our 6 foot yellow anaconda wasn’t in there. We searched the whole car with no luck and we were just starting to get worried when we heard a loud scream and the crash of tinkling from glass outside. We rushed out to find one of the burly moving men pale-faced and shaking, pointing to the corner of the moving van; there was Winston the 6 foot snake, curled up happy as Larry. We hadn’t told the delivery men about the snakes as they were coming in the car with us. Luckily it was only old plates that he had dropped in his surprise, but we had to invite him in for a cup of tea to calm him down – they got out of there pretty quickly after that!”

“Moving day was so stressful! All the boxes were packed in the moving van and we set off. Unpacking at the house, we realised we had forgotten something – THE DOG! We raced back to the old house and found the dog happily sleeping in the bathroom. Nice to know it was stress-free for him – he slept all the way through it!”

Our tips: There’s no doubt that moving house with pets in tow will increase your stress levels both in the run up to and on the day itself as you worry about their wellbeing. But there are several things you can do to reduce the stress and keep everyone happy:

  1. On the day of your move, your behaviour will affect how your pets behave, particularly if you’re feeling a bit stressed. To avoid unnecessary upset and to keep the paths clear for your removal crew, arrange for one room in the house away from all the activity to be used as a temporary pet room. Clear it out first, then put your pet(s) in there along with anything that will keep them comfortable for the duration, such as bedding, toys, food, water and litter trays. Keep the doors and windows shut and place a sign on the door so that your removal crew know why they can’t go in there. Better still, see if pets can stay with a family member or friend on the day of the move, eliminating them from the chaos altogether.
  2. When you arrive at your new home the same applies – find somewhere quiet that’s out of the way where pets can sit comfortably while you move in. Check on them regularly to make sure they’re not too distressed about everything going on around them.
  3. Much like with children, when moving house with pets it's always best to try and keep to any routines you have as best you can. Sticking to their regular walking and feeding times where possible helps to maintain stability and avoid too much confusion.
  4. If you’re not moving too far away, it is sometimes a good idea to take your dog to the new area prior to the move so he or she can get accustomed to their new walking route. Once in your new house, check that fences and gates are secure before letting them out into the garden.
  5. With cats, it’s always advisable to keep them in the new house for a week or so post-move to help them adjust to their new surroundings. Cats tend to be more stressed by a house move than dogs and will need a bit of time to get their bearings. Introduce them to each room in the house one at a time, keeping a close eye on them (particularly anxious cats will seek out places to hide and may get stuck). Keeping meal times the same will help settle them as they’ll recognise their old routine. Once you start letting them out, do so on an empty stomach so that they get used to returning back to their new home to be fed.
  6. It’s not uncommon for cats to try and return to their old houses, particularly if you’re only moving a short distance away. If you’re worried about this then warn your old neighbours to keep an eye out and tell them not to feed or pet the cat if they do see him – this will only serve to confuse him and encourage him to keep returning. Making sure your cats (and dogs) are tagged and micro chipped before the move is always a good idea.
  7. If you’re transporting more exotic animals like tropical fish, reptiles or amphibians, then speak to your removal company about it – don’t do what the entrants above did with their snakes and try and keep it quiet; most companies will be used to requests of this nature, so don’t be afraid to ask if they’ve got any recommendations for transportation!
  8. And finally, don’t forget to register your pet with vet in your new area if you’re moving too far away from your old one.

For more tips on keeping your move stress-free, check out our House Removals page.

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Topics: Pets

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