Four Tips to Calm a Dog or Cat During a Move

cat in a travel crateHow to Help Pets Stay Calm During a Move

Today we have a guest post from our friends at We all know by now that relocating a pet can add extra stress to an already hectic situation, so we're happy to consider all the helpful advice we can find.

Here's what our guest blogger had to say about keeping pets calm before a move:

No matter how big of an upgrade your new home will be or how excited you are about your new neighborhood, moving is stressful. In the midst of disrupted schedules, the inability to find a can opener to make dinner, and stepping around boxes in every room, tempers can flare.

Our dogs and cats are not impervious to feeling frustrated, finicky, and just plain out of sorts during a move. However, with some simple preparation and tools, you can reduce your pets' anxiety and behavior issues during this frenzied time.

Preparation for moving with pets needs to start before moving day. Behaviors are easier to prevent than reverse, and you don't want to find yourself researching how to calm a dog after he's scratched himself silly due to stress, or how to calm your cat after she's growling and hissing rather than purring.

1. Move the Pets Last

While you're moving out, keep pets confined to one room or their crates. Store food and water bowls, favorite toys, blankets, and litter boxes in the room with them. Keep them safe and quiet during all stages—not running loose, tripping movers or bolting out of open doors. The move-out will take several hours, and you don't want stress to start in stage one.

If possible, move most of your stuff into the new home before moving the pets in. This will serve multiple purposes, including introducing old scents into the new space and again keeping the pets safe from open doors and furniture being moved.

2. Purchase Stress Relief in a Bottle

Amanda Eick-Miller, a Veterinary Behavior Technician at The Behavior Clinic in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, recommends Feliway by Ceva for cats. The dog-equivalent product is called DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) by Comfort Zone. You can't smell the pheromones, but they're what your cat is rubbing on you when she head-butts you, announcing her approval of you and claiming you as her property.

"This product decreases stress and anxiety associated with the move," says Eick-Miller. "It comes as a diffuser; we recommend plugging it in 36 hours prior to the cats moving in."

You can start Feliway and DAP before the move, as well, to help ease cat and dog anxiety that may arise from moving preparations. Pets know when things are about to change, and loud noises and hustle and bustle can be a fur-raising experience.

3. Get the Crate Ready—And Make Sure They Like It

This isn't the time to buy a new crate. All pets should be raised with a crate that is easily accessible so they learn to like it. A crate that only appears before a trip to the vet is a crate that is feared.

4. Set the Pets up in Their Own Room in the New House

Tossing a pet in a new environment can be intimidating. Let them get used to one room first, where everything they need is nearby. Then, when they feel ready—usually after a day or two—they can explore the rest of the house knowing where "home base" is. Don't worry about putting the litter box in a temporary spot for now. If a cat is too nervous to walk around unfamiliar territory to find it, she won't bother to.

It's normal for pets to lay low or hide for up to a few days after moving. Stress can escalate and cause illness, however, so be prepared to visit the vet if signs of stress don't quickly improve. Symptoms of a pet in distress include anything abnormal for that pet, including excessive barking or meowing, inappropriate urination and rashes or hot spots.

Leigh Peterson is a contributor to, an online moving authority where people planning a move can find information, products and savings to streamline and save during this exciting life stage. 

Need help planning your pet's move? Contact PetRelocation to discuss your safe pet travel options. 

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2011 and has been updated with new information.


PetRelocation Team




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