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Movin' on Up - A Guide to Moving with your Pet

moving

There are many things to consider when moving to a new home. Your pets require their very own checklist of items to add on to that ever mounting Moving to-do list. My recent move brought a ton of challenges for myself and my 3 cats. (Yeah, I know what you're thinking. But technically it takes 5 to be a cat lady) In the end though, me and my crew were able to find a beautiful apartment and we couldn't be happier. I thought it'd be great to give you a checklist of things to consider before Moving Day.

Licensing and Identification

Every city, province, and country can have differing by-laws and regulations on pets. Dependent on breed and size, your pet might also require muzzling or specific yard needs. Make sure to take the time to look into your new home and its requirements for pets. It is also vital to make sure your pet is properly registered, licensed, and is equipped with proper identification. My favorite is micro-chipping. A quick visit to the vet and for $30 your pet will be equipped with a microchip the size of a grain of rice. The procedure is quick and virtually painless. The microchip is inserted under the skin using a large gauged needle and is as quick as getting vaccines done. This will then equip your pet with all of their contact and health information no matter where in the world you may go. The internationally spanning database will keep your information available to anyone who might find your pet. However keeping this information accurate is also important. I have personally found a pet and watched a wild goose chase ensue trying to find its parents who never updated their information when they moved. Simply add this to your list of people to give your new address to and you will be fine.

Vaccinations and Health requirements

When I moved from Alberta to British Coumbia I found out the hard way what could affect my cats here but not there. Vancouver's climate is so mild and humid that it is an ideal place for fleas to thrive. Where the Alberta winters are so harsh that fleas are really more common in long wild grasses. The temperature and climate in your new home can facilitate many things that can be quite harmful to your pet. Heart-worm is another example of something more common on the west coast as opposed to the prairies. Look up the veterinarians in your new city and ask them what vaccinations and treatments they recommend to prepare your pets for their new potential pests, you'll be glad you did.

The Journey

You've prepped them legally, made sure they can find you if they lose you, and covered them head to toe health-wise to battle the buggies. Now the fun part, Moving Day. If you think moving day is stressful on you, imagine how it can be on your pet. They live a quiet peaceful existence in your home, sleeping the days away on your couch and lounging in their yard. Then suddenly they are loaded in a carrier or car and driven to a brand new smelling home. It is strange, scary, and stressful.

My initial move to Vancouver required an 18 hour drive. That is a ton of time to spend in a carrier. The best way to prepare your pet for their upcoming trip,(no matter how long it is) is to leave their carrier out in plain view and allow them to inspect it long before the move. Animals will recognize the smell of something from one experience to the next. If they are given the carriers in their relaxing home environment and shown that they are not "jail" or at all scary. This might help to cut down on their anxiety. I will say that sometimes this doesn't help at all. My crew ranges from relaxed to frantic in a carrier. But the more used to seeing the carrier in their life, the easier it seems to be. As an alternative though, sedatives are sometimes required to get your pet through the day. I would only advise looking into a sedative when absolutely necessary. Your veterinarian is a great resource for dosing and medications to use. 

Upon arriving to your new home, leave your pets confined to a small space like a bedroom or in their carriers until the movers are done. The last thing you want is for them to be tripped over or potentially escape. Once all moved in, let them roam around the new place beginning in a bedroom for 30 minutes, then moving to the rest of the house. Because of the familiar smell of your belongings your pets will soon know that this is home. 

Do not be alarmed if your pet does not act quite normal for the first few days in their new home. My cat spent his first day hissing, growling, and just being snarly until he realized that everything was ok. It may even be necessary to separate pets who are normally good together. A little quiet time never hurt anyone.

The Great Outdoors

I do not under any circumstances recommend letting cats roam freely outdoors. Perhaps it is my experience in the emergency vet clinics and seeing those unfortunate victims of car accidents or just simply my paranoia of what humans are capable of doing to my precious pets, either way I don't advise it. If you do allow your cat to roam outdoors, it is important to keep them isolated indoors for at least 3 weeks after moving to your new neighbourhood. Cats use smells and their wild neighbourhood to determine territory and find their way home. It is very common for cats to get lost immediately after moving because they were let outside and tried to find their way "home" aka their old home. Yet another reason to make sure your kitty is properly identified.

Well, that is oretty much all you need to know for making your move a healthy happy experience for the whole fuzzy crew. Take the time to be prepared and everything will work out fine. Happy Moving Day!

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