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Tips for Moving a Cat Long Distance

September 22nd, 2017 - 10:30 AM

Everything you need to know about moving with cats​

How does your cat respond to new things and new people? If it’s like most, he or she probably doesn’t like interruptions in environment or routine, and may get anxious in unfamiliar situations. During a move, cats will face new people, a long car ride, loud noises, and a new home — all of which might cause some stress. It’s normal to be concerned about how your feline friend will fare during a long move, but a little preparation can make it easier on everyone involved. 

cat transport

How to move a cat across the country

The way you move can make a big difference in how your cat reacts. U-Pack® is a great option for pet owners making a long distance move— it’s a “you pack, we drive” service that lets you travel in your own vehicle. This way, your cat can be in an environment that smells semi-familiar and you won’t have to drive the moving equipment. Prices are comparable to truck rental, especially considering that U-Pack rates include fuel, liability coverage and taxes. Compare prices with a free moving quote online or by calling 800-413-4799. 

Getting cats ready for moving day

There are certain things that need to be done prior to moving. Follow these tips to make sure everything is in order:

  • Make a vet appointment. Visit your provider for a check-up — make sure all vaccinations are up to date and get a certificate of health. Talk with the vet about microchipping, which can be used to identify cats if they go missing during travel. Keep the shot records and health certificate with you as some states may require proof of rabies immunization at interstate crossings.
  • Gather travel items. Pack a bag with medications, favorite toys, litter box (a disposable one may be easier to travel with), flushable litter (easier to deal with on the road), scooper, plastic bags, paper towels, bedding, and pet stain remover. You may also want to include a portable scratcher, comfort spray (to help control stress) and something that smells like home (maybe the blanket they like to lounge on). Also pack bowls and enough food and bottled water to last the entire trip, plus a little extra in case of delays.
  • Get your cat used to new equipment. If you’ll be using a carrier or leash/harness, train your cat beforehand. For crates, get one big enough for them to stand up in and move comfortably, and get one for each if you’re moving multiples. Place the crate in a room where they spend time to get them used to it, and then take a few practice car rides with the crate prior to moving. If using a leash, train them to walk comfortably with something around their neck.
  • Introduce moving materials. Set out boxes, packing paper and other moving supplies so your cat can become familiar with them. This way, they won’t be bothered during packing. On moving day, keep them secure in a calm area away from the noise.
  • Find pet-friendly hotels. Before traveling with your cat, locate pet-friendly hotels along the route.
  • Find a vet at destination. While it likely won’t be necessary, you’ll be glad to have that information on hand if an emergency occurs.

Tips for traveling with a cat

When it’s time to hit the road, here are some helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Clean your car. A nervous cat can chew or scratch items, so remove anything that could be toxic (like food waste or small items that could be choking hazards). If you’re concerned about scratching, place them in a crate or put down car seat covers.
  • Keep the car quiet. Loud noises can be stressful, so keep the radio at a low level.
  • Limit food and drink. Three hours before leaving, remove food and water to prevent motion sickness.  Avoid feeding until you’re finished traveling for the day. To give some extra hydration, mix some water with the evening food.
  • Take the cat with you at stops. Don’t leave your pet alone in the vehicle, especially during extreme temperatures.
  • Make the hotel feel familiar. Place toys, litter box, food and water bowls in the room before introducing your cat. Give them time to explore and feel comfortable, and be careful going in and out of the room to prevent escape. 

If driving isn’t an option, follow these tips for flying:

  • Talk with your airline. Get details about their pet travel policies and any required paperwork.
  • Book a direct flight, if possible. The less switching equipment, the easier travel will be on your cat.
  • Prepare the carrier. Line the bottom of the carrier/crate with paper towels or training pads in case of any accidents. Write “Live Animal” on all sides and draw arrows showing the upright position. Attach an envelope with your name, contact information, destination, cat’s name, and a photo of the cat. You can also tape a bag of food on the outside in case of a long layover as airline employees can usually feed them.
  • Avoid sedation. Unless the vet suggests medication, avoid sedation as it can hinder breathing while in the cargo hold.

What to do after the move

  • Check with the city for any permits or paperwork. Your new hometown may require a license or permit for cats. The USDA has information for each state, but also check with the city office for local laws.
  • Get the new house ready. Make sure all windows and doors have screens on them and check for hiding places where your cat could get stuck. In a new environment, they may look for places to escape or hide.  Treat your home for fleas and ticks before move-in day. Choose a designated area for the cat during unloading, and then place their food, bed and litter box where you want them so they can learn their new routine.
  • After unloading, let the cat explore. Scatter toys or anything with your cat’s scent around the house so they know it’s OK to be there. Play with your cat in different areas around the home to make them feel comfortable.

Have questions about moving cats?

If you have additional questions, leave a comment below.