cat-in-box-packing Last month I moved with my pets. It had been over a decade since I last moved, even though I consider myself a “pro” at moving with pets, there were still some surprises! My moving experience has been mostly long-distance moves, the kind that took me and my dogs and cats around the world or across the country. This time I was “only” moving about a half an hour away, but as anyone who’s done a local move with or without their pets before can tell you, you still have to pack everything and plan ahead to make sure everyone arrives safely! Here are some planning and safety tip checklists for locally moving with your pets.

Packing and moving can really stress out your pets. Even if you can’t see any signs, your pet may be quietly getting freaked out, and may do something totally out of character – like bolt out the front door. Better to be prepared than surprised!

One week before you move:

__ Verify pet has current ID tag and microchip registration with multiple phone numbers.

__ Locate one crate/seatbelt harness per pet.

__ Pet crate inspection: Check for any cracks, loose fasteners, bent bars etc and repair/replace.

__ If your pet is used to staying at a friend or relative’s home, ask if they can spend moving day.

__ If you can, setup a “safe room” for your pets at your new home. This could be a large bathroom or bedroom with a door that you can lock. Keep the windows locked too, even if there are screens.

__ If you have dogs that will be out in a new yard, thoroughly inspect fencing (both top and bottom and strength) and make any needed repairs to make it extra secure.

Night before moving day:

__ Lock any cats in bedroom with you.

__ Make a “week one” box of supplies you’ll need for your pet(s) during the first week. Food, bowls, litter, litterboxes, etc. Pack this in your car or somewhere you’ll have easy access to it right away.

Day of move:

___ Before any doors are opened to start moving out your belongings, secure all pets in crates or on leash that you or a trusted family/friend holds during the packing and moving.

___ Unpack pets first! Put them in the safe room and lock the door. If you can’t lock the door, put a large X of tape on it and tape across the door handle.

First week:

Know that cats may hide for days or weeks, even cats that are not usually shy.

Keep a leash on your dogs for the first week in your new yard even if fencing seems secure.

If your cats go outdoors, wait 30 DAYS (yes, a full 30 days) before letting them outside. One theory is that cats (and dogs too) have an internal compass that takes that long to be reset. No, really! Just like homing pigeons. That’s possibly how pets manage to travel hundreds of miles and find their way home. Here’s a research article about how that and how pets detect the earth’s magnetic field. One more reason to be extra careful about keeping your pets safely contained both during and after a move.

We hope these tips help your move be a success. Welcome to your new home!

See our other articles about Traveling With Pets for more tips.