Unlike with kids, you can’t sit down with Fluffy and explain to her the reasons you need to uproot her entire life, leave behind her favorite patch of sunlight, and generally stress her the heck out. But you can take measures to make it less likely that she’ll pee herself every 5 minutes throughout the moving process:
1. Make sure she’s healthy
You don’t want to wait until Moving Day to find out about Fluffy’s heart arrhythmia. Take her in for a check-up and get the vet’s approval for transportation. You may also need a certificate of health, a permit, and/or a rabies tag, depending on where you’re moving.
2. Check the local laws, and bring I.D.
This tip is more for your sake, although having your pet impounded isn’t likely to make her any happier with the situation. States have laws about brining animals in (for example, hedgehogs are out in many places!); different local governments have different requirements for licenses. Know what’s up, and keep your pup.
3. Pack smart
If you leave all your packing until the last moment, not only will you stress yourself out, you’ll likely stress your pet out, too. Dogs can smell fear, right? Then they can definitely smell the nervous sweat you just broke into when you realized the movers are coming in 15 hours. Breathe, and stay happy, if only for Fluffy’s sake. Also, make sure to pack everything you need, both in terms of paperwork and things like water and toys.
4. Get her used to travel conditions
Driving across country with a dog who’s never been in a car? Taking a cat on a plane, when she’s never worn a cat harness before? You know better than that. Get your pet used to the conditions of travel specific to your move, including spending some time in the pet carrier you’ll use.
5. Designate a special Fluffy Space
When you finally get to your new home, set up a secure place for your pet—a closet or small room where she can feel safe and at home. Don’t alter this space until she’s completely settled into your new apartment.
6. Watch her more carefully for the first few weeks
Use leashes on walks, make sure windows are closed, and watch for signs of sickness. If there are any “accidents,” make sure to clean them up immediately, so that it doesn’t become a routine.