Your cat probably didn’t sign off on your move, so she may be a tad upset that you made this decision without her. Moving with cats can be done, but you should start preparing well before moving day. With some early planning, you can ensure that your cat will be purring on your lap at your new house without holding a grudge (for too long).
Before the Move
Make your cat carrier a happy place.
My cats knew what it meant when we put them in a carrier. I couldn’t blame them for freaking out because the carrier always ended up at the vet. Your cat is smart, so you need to change his association with the carrier into a positive one. Leave your cat carrier in the living room with his favorite toys or a treat. He’ll start to associate the pet carrier with happy moments and not only a trip to the vet.
Visit the veterinarian.
Some airlines require health certificates 30 days in advance, so do not put off this visit. Get up to date on any shots, because it may be a while before you find a new vet. Also, get your vet records, vaccination certificates, health certificates, prescription refills, and prescription orders. If you don’t know any pet owners in your new city, ask your vet for a recommendation.
Consider an animal relocation company, especially if you are moving internationally.
If you are moving overseas or to Hawaii, you may want to get professional assistance. Some countries require animal quarantines for up to six months prior to entry, so be sure to look at the country’s rules and restrictions. Animal relocation companies can start at approximately $1,000 for domestic moves and $2,500 for international moves. Prices vary, but these costs should cover airfare, transportation to and from your homes, and preparation of health certificates.
Confirm that your “pet-friendly” hotel is really “pet-friendly”.
Go old school for this one and call your hotel. Online sites may not be correct. You don’t want to show up at a hotel only to discover that your cat is not allowed.
Speak to an airline representative.
Pick up the phone for this one, too. Call your airline to find out what kind of documentation you will need and whether your cat will be in the cabin or in cargo hold.
Pack for your cat.
Make a box filled with all the things your cat will need for the move. You will need your pet documents, a collar with your new address, medications, cat carrier, blanket or towel, food, bowl, bottled water, treats, toys, litter box and paper towels.
On Moving Day
Secure your cat.
Moving day is chaotic with doors open throughout the day, providing ample escape opportunities. Place your cat in a carrier or consider boarding your cat with a friend or with a boarding company.
Your cat should wear her new collar.
In case your cat does manage to escape, be sure to have a collar with your new address and your current phone number. This is critical as fewer than 2% of lost cats are returned to their owners without a collar.
Keep your pet documents handy.
If you get pulled over during a move (it’s happened to us several times), the police officer has the right to inspect your pet’s health certificate.
NEVER, EVER transport your cat in the storage area of your vehicle.
Your cat should be inside the car with you. You should not place your cat in the trunk or in the storage area of a moving van. Items shift in the moving van and you don’t want anything bad to happen to your cat. The unregulated temperatures in the storage area of your truck can be extremely dangerous to your cat.
Immediately After Moving With Cats
Check for safety hazards.
When you first arrive at your new home, check out the house for potential hazards. Leave your cat in the carrier while you investigate. If your cat is an outdoor cat, check outside as well.
Chow time and a bathroom break.
Your cat will be equally exhausted from the trip. Set up his food bowls, water, and kitty litter so he can feel comfortable again.
Create a happy spot.
Your cat will soon decide where her favorite spot will be in your new home. Until then, set up a spot away from the chaos of moving boxes. Lay out a soft blanket or her favorite toy to make her feel at home.
Give your cat some extra TLC.
Whether you shower your cat with affection by combing her hair, petting her, playing games with her or giving her treats, now is the time to do it. You’ll get the boxes unpacked eventually. Make some time for you and your cat. You’ll need the downtime just as much as she does, if not more.
Keep the cat carrier accessible.
The movers may not arrive until days later at your home. Therefore, your cat may need to spend more time in his carrier. Leave it out so he can continue to explore it. When the movers arrive, place him in the carrier in a quiet room.