Moving with a Pet, Part 2: Settling in the New Home

You and your pet made it! You both survived the drive, and now all that’s left is to get him settled into his new home. Here are some tips to help that process go as smoothly as possible. (For more advice, check out our other posts on introducing a new pet to your apartment).

Assign him to a room.

After the long drive with your fur-ball cooped up, you’ll be tempted to give him a chance to run around and explore the new apartment that you’re so excited about, but this is not a good idea. You’ll want to place your pet in a small room with his litter, food, water, and carrier (even if he usually hates his carrier, leave it with him. It’s something familiar, and he’s likely just spent hours curled up in it). The bathroom is the ideal place for this because you won’t be unpacking loads of boxes into it, and, bonus, it usually has an easy-to-clean floor in case of any accidents. Sit with him for a few minutes and let him explore his new room while you’re still there. When he seems okay, leave him in the room by himself, making sure to close the door behind you.

Keep him in his room.

Now, that your pet is set up, you can start unloading your car or moving van without worrying about him being overwhelmed or slipping out the door when no one is looking. Be sure that anyone helping you unload is aware which room the animal is in and knows not to open that door. If you’ve hired professional movers, you may even want to tape a note to the door warning them not to enter your pet’s safe space. Don’t let him out until you’ve finished unloading all of your boxes. You may even want to keep him in his room until the majority of your things are unpacked; change can be stressful for pets (especially cats), and having you moving around quickly and making lots of noise in a new environment could be very overwhelming.

Let him explore slowly.

When you finally do let your cat out of his room, do it when your apartment is quiet and calm. Keep an eye on him while he explores (he’ll likely be very nervous, and some animals will pee on things when they’re stressed), but give him enough space that he doesn’t feel overwhelmed. For the next day or two, return him to this room whenever you’re going to be gone for long periods of time. After your pet seems comfortable in your new home, you can move his food and other things into their permanent homes—just don’t forget to show your pet where you’ve moved them to!

Give him familiar things.

If you read my //previous post// about driving with your pet, then you know that you should bring a jug of water from your previous home with you when you move. Well, the same is true for food and litter (if applicable). The stores around you might not sell the same brands that your pet is used to, so rather than changing everything he knows in one fell swoop, transition him by giving him his usual food, water, and litter while he gets used to his new surroundings. The same rule goes for his blankets, toys, etc. Even though you might be tempted to buy him all new things for your brand new house, wait a while. He’ll feel safer and calmer if his things smell like him, not like the store.

Be there for him.

Finally, be prepared to give your pet extra attention for a few days; he’s been through a stressful experience and may need more love and comfort than usual. I know you’re probably going to be very busy getting yourself settled, running errands, and setting up your new life, but make sure that you take half an hour every day to be with your pet. Even if he’s not the cuddliest animal, just sit in a room with him and do something quiet. He’ll appreciate the company and familiar presence.

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Author My First Apartment

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Taylor LaSon is a recent Hamilton College graduate who is currently living in Memphis while seeking her Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology. She and her cat prefer a quiet, introverted lifestyle full of Netflix binges and arts and crafts, but when she does go out, she enjoys rock climbing and making silly faces at small children.

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