Taking your pets along when you relocate has both its benefits and challenges.
In the long run, it ameliorates initial feelings of isolation, alienation, and chaos when you bring along your animals. They help alleviate stress with their companionship and silly behaviors. Sometimes their routines help you establish your routines, which helps bring order and ward off feeling despondent.
There are also added stressors that can contribute to feelings of being alone and overwhelmed when relocating with pets. Maybe your new home isn’t conducive to every pet having a window perch of their own. Maybe your new home doesn’t have a yard. Sometimes finding new food brands that your pets will eat is challenging: I couldn’t find the brands they used to eat and the ones immediately available were not preferred (aka cats refused to eat). Always finding a new vet is stressful.
For me, the traveling itself was stressful because my husband would yell at me when the animals yowled or complained in the car. Upon arriving in our new city, my white and brown kitty became seriously ill and would howl at night disrupting our sleep. This caused fighting in the morning between me and my husband, who would then leave to go to his work and I would be alone after being yelled at. Coupled with trying to find a veterinarian that I trusted (I went to three!), I was worried that my little furry friend was dying because she had stopped eating and urinating. Fortunately, we found a competent vet who knew how to treat her well. After the surgery, my little kitty was so much better and surprisingly my husband softened towards her as well since he could see that she’d been in pain previously and not trying to be obnoxious. Now that she’s well, I’m so glad she’s here since the new city is still foreign to me; she also provides companionship to the other cat for which I’m grateful.
- If possible, try to keep one or two alternate brands of food that you know your pet will eat, so if your pet suddenly won’t eat or you can’t find their favorite dish in your new town, you have alternate choices already vetted.
- Find out upon arrival if your new local municipality or county has special pet ordinances. For instance, Multnomah County in Oregon had specific pet laws, such as mandatory rabies shots and registration of current rabies inoculation.
- Try to identify before your pet is sick a vet that you like, who is also convenient and affordable. This will save a ton of anxiety down the road if or when you need emergency pet care.
- Letting your pet adjust to your new home, and maybe yard, can also help you adjust. Following simple routines can help establish order and harmony for you and your pet. We maintained an “exercise time” whereby I would dangle a feather toy to allow the cats to run after it. It helped us bond during a stressful time, they got to run around and burn off extra steam, and I felt like I was being a good pet parent when the rest of my life was in shambles.
What have your learned from relocating with pets? Leave your comments below!