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Moving house with cats, dogs and other pets

Find out how to settle pets into a new home and have a smooth move with all your animals.

Moving house can be a pretty stressful experience for us humans. 

But for our pets, the move can also be a struggle as they try to adjust to their new home.

Key points

  • Plan well in advance how your pets will travel
  • Make sure your pet's microchip is up to date
  • Be extra careful with summer moves to make sure animals aren't left in vehicles

It's difficult to know how your animal companion is going to react if they've never experienced a big change before.

So we've put together a handy guide to make sure your pet has the smoothest of moves, from planning to updating the details on their pet insurance.

Pet preparations before you move

Moving house requires a lot of admin work - papers to sign and addresses to change.

If you've got a beloved pet, you'll have to bear their paperwork in mind too. Dog

For instance, if you're moving a fair distance away from your old house, you'll need to find a new vet.

Register your pet before you move to make sure they're covered for any illnesses or accidents they may encounter at the new place.

And make sure their microchip or collar is up to date with your new address and contact details.

Don't forget to let your pet insurer know the new address and move date as well, to make sure you're covered before, during and after your move.

Got a fishy friend or reptile relation? Try not to feed them on the day that you'll be moving them.

During the move

If your pet could go into a boarding kennel/cattery or stay with a family member or friend during the big move, this would be ideal. It would be one less thing for you to worry about and save them the stress of moving.

However, this isn't always possible so if you're taking your furry family member or scaly sidekick with you, you'll have to make the journey as smooth as possible for them.

Your pet may need to spend some time in their carrier during the move and if so,  it's a good idea to leave this accessible to them before you leave your old house. That way, they can become familiar with it and it won't be so daunting when it's time to get them into it.

You'll need to be very organised if you're planning on moving your fish too.

They'll need to be kept in separate bags if you have different species and kept in the dark to minimise stress. 

If you have a dog or a cat, try to keep some of your pet's belongings with them when you start the trip to the new place so they feel reassured. This could include a favourite toy or a comforter such as a blanket.Cat

Cats Protection suggest using "a strong, secure and easily cleanable carrier, with a familiar smelling blanket inside and cover the carrier with another light blanket. You may wish to spray the inside of the carrier with a pheromone spray at least 15 minutes before putting your cat inside, to allow the alcohol to evaporate. The pheromone can help to create a feeling of familiarity and security."

If you know your pet isn't a good traveller, be sure to pack any medication they may need along the way too and don't forget their litter tray.

Moving on a hot day? Keep the car cool for your pet and don't leave them alone for a long time in the vehicle.

Kathryn Eccles of equestrian and country store, Millbry Hill says, "On arrival at your new home, keep your pet confined to a single room, with some familiar belongings, such as their bed and toys, and of course, access to water.

This will allow you to unpack and organise the rest of the house without risk of your pet getting lost or becoming distressed with the disruption. At the end of the day, your pet can then be let out to explore their new environment - just remember to check doors are closed, and if you are giving your dog free access to the garden, that it is secure."

Expect your pet to possibly mark their territory in the new house too.

Settling dogs and cats in a new house 

Settling your pet in may take a few weeks.

Your cat or dog may try and go back to their old house if you haven't moved far as they'll follow routes they know. House

You can try and help them to adjust to the new house by making it smell like your old home.

If you have specific scents that you used in your old house, spritz them around the new one to make your pet feel more at home.

And just to be extra cautious, let the new residents of your old home know your contact details just in case your pet finds their way back there.

Get your pet back into their normal routine as quickly as possible and if you have a dog, take them out on a lead at first to adjust to their new surroundings.

Moving in with other pets

Introducing your pet to other animals in the house?

Make sure they're separated for a while and only meet for short amounts of time at first so that they're able to get used to each other.

The new pet in the house should be kept in one room and you should take it in turns to alternate them both between that one room and the rest of the house. That way, your pets can get used to each other's smell around the place.

If your dog is moving in with another dog, take them out for walks together so they can get to know each other better.

Clare Hamilton, founder of Cherry Tree Vets says that if you're introducing a cat and a dog to one another, your cat should always be established as the boss.

"Cats cannot be trained," she explains, "but dogs certainly can. If your feline friend is hissing at the dog, remove the dog from the cat and give it space."

Above all, give your pet lots of love and reassurance during the move and make sure they're happy.

By Alice Morgan