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What to do with pets on moving day? Tips & free printable checklist for moving with pets

Learn 37 tips what to do with pets on moving day and get a free printable checklist for successfully moving with pets.

Are you about to move and need to figure out what do with your pets on moving day?

Then my moving day tips for pets will help you to stay organized on this stressful day and take care of your animals.

This post also comes with a free printable checklist that helps to make moving with pets easy and stress-free.

Moving with pets

Moving is stressful and challenging, even more so when pets are involved. Most pets are creatures of habit and can feel quite attached to their territory. Changing the familiar environment can be very disorientating and disruptive.

Planning ahead reduces the stress for you and your pet and ensure your pet is safe and comfortable before, after, and on moving day.

My experience: Moving with cats

A couple of months ago, I moved to a new apartment, an experience that brought out my inner organising ninja. For weeks, I divide my belongings into things to keep and stuff to donate or bin. I even upcycled a few furniture pieces to fit the look I wanted for my new home. And I created countless checklists to make sure I didn’t forget anything important, and everything was organised and prepared for moving day.

When I fed my cats Dr Tinkles and Sir Henry a few days before the move, I realised I hadn’t spent much thought on what I should do with my pets on moving day. Sure, their bed, favourite toys, and feeding bowls were among the first things I was going to set up at my new apartment. But who was going to care of them on the day I moved to my new home? And what could I do to help my cats adjust after the move?

Let’s answer these questions!

I broke this post down into:

  • things you can do before the move
  • how to make the actual moving days as easy as possible for your animals
  • tips for helping them to settle in

And if you have suggestions, leave a comment below so I and others can learn from your experiences!

What to do with pets on moving day?

I moved home within the same city, but the tips below are also useful when you’re moving with pets cross-country or long distance.

Tips before moving: How do I prepare for moving with pets?

Planning in advance is the key to successfully moving with pets. Having a clear action plan, reduce the stress and worry for you and makes your pet feel secure and well taken care of. Below is a list of tips and things to consider before the move.

Visit the vet

Collect any medical records and prescription medications from your current veterinarian. Take this opportunity to check if vaccinations and other medications are up to date.

If you know that your pet is anxious to travel, consult with your vet about using car sickness medication or anti-anxiety meds.

Find a new vet near the new location and write down their address and telephone number. Having the contact details readily at hand can be quite useful in case of an emergency. You can also ask the current vet for a recommendation.

If you’re moving to another state or a new country, it’s also advisable to ask a local vet or agency if you have to comply with any laws or regulations.

Find a pet sitter

Ask a friend or family member to look after your pet on moving day. Moving means you will have to take care of many things and must be available to instruct movers or friends where to put boxes etc. Having a designated caretaker or animal sitter beforehand will save you and your pet a lot of stress and worry on the day of the actual move.

To reduce the stress for your pet, it’s best to ask someone they already know and like. I gave Dr Tinkles and Sir Henry to their auntie Cyna and apparently they had quite a fun time.

Familiarise your cat or dog with transportation

If your cat or dog has never travelled before, introduce him or her a travel carrier in advance. I put treats into the travel carrier and left the door open, so my cats could explore the carrier and don’t be anxious about it.

Prep the carrier with bedding, small bowls of food and water, and a toy so your pet is comfortable and occupied while traveling.

It’s also a good idea to take your dog on a few drives before moving, so he or she gets used to driving in a car and doesn’t have a negative association.

Pack essential supplies

Make sure to buy and pack enough pet food for the days leading up to and after the move. And if you give your pet away for moving day, make sure the person watching your cat or dog has enough food and instructions on how to feed them.

If moving long distance and driving for a couple of hours, it’s essential to avoid dehydration and hunger. Pack sufficient provisions and water so your pet can eat and drink while on the road. And don’t forget to have bowls ready to serve them their food and water.

I recommend packing a dedicated box, bag, or container with essential pet supplies that you can easily transport and always have at hand on moving day. Try to include as many familiar items as possible as these smell like home and can help to decrease stress for your pet.

List of essential items

Extra tips

When you buy moving boxes, assemble and display them in the old home. This way, your pet can become familiar with the boxes, which will help to prepare for the move and reduce their stress and anxiety. My cats loved hiding in the boxes and make a mess of everything I tried to pack.

Wait to pack your pet’s things close to the move. Having familiar items around will help to keep your pet calm and comfortable.

Also, don’t wash your pets bedding or favourite blanket. Your pet will settle in their new home easier if they have a few familiar-smelling things around.

Tips for moving day: How do I move with pets?

Moving day means a lot of hustle and bustle, moving boxes, cleaning rooms, travelling to the new home, and many other activities that are completely unfamiliar for your pet and can stress them easily. The goal, therefore, is to keep animals away from the action as much as possible and maintain a sense of routine and familiarity.

What to do with pets on moving day?

Be reassuring and attentive

Let’s start with the most important tip: check in on your pet regularly throughout the day and give plenty of attention and reassurance.

Don’t scold them if they act irritated, scared, or angry. Keep in mind that moving to a new home is much harder to understand for pets than it is for us. Even well-behaved pets may react to a new situation in an unusual way.

If possible, continue your pet’s everyday routine, e.g., feed them at the time you usually would or take them on a short walk. Having a sense of familiarity and routine helps to minimise your pet’s stress levels.

You can also spritz a pheromone travel spray into the room or carrier to keep your pet calm, for example Feliway for cats or Adaptil for dogs. This calming collar for cats or this dog collar can also be helpful, and if you prefer a homemade method try this DIY diffuser blend for pets from Soap Deli News.

Put on a collar and ID tag

Before leaving the house, make sure your pet wears a collar with an ID tag in case they get lost. My cats weren’t cooperative at first but didn’t notice the collars after a while.

Take the pet to the sitter

Take your pet to the designated caretaker for the day. Don’t forget to bring the kit with essential supplies.

Find a safe location

If leaving your animal with a pet sitter isn’t an option, keep your pet in a quiet and safe space away from the activity. At the old home, an empty room or bathroom is ideal. Make the room comfortable with their usual food, water, bedding, toys, and a litter box for cats. To reduce the noise and stop them from running away, keep the door closed, and look after them regularly. The printables include a “Pet inside – do not disturb” sign that you can put on the door to make movers and helpers aware.

At the new home, take your pet into a room that already has a few familiar items and all the things he or she needs. Shut the door and give them time and space to explore the new surroundings. Be sure to keep your animal away from paint buckets or dissolvent that could still stand around.

Cover the cage of small animals with a blanket and put down the cage in a quiet place so the pets can calm down and familiarise themselves with the new sounds and smells first.

The car ride to the new home

Tips before starting the drive:

  • Don’t feed your pet just before the car drive as they may become car sick.
  • Try to make them potty to avoid accidents on the road. Put absorbent pads under the bedding, which will help to keep the carrier dry.
  • Have car-sickness or anti-anxiety medications ready. If you know of travelling issues, give the meds in advance.

Tips for the drive

If possible, transport cats and dogs in a vehicle they already know. Cats and small dogs should travel in a carrier, that can be secured with a seatbelt. Bigger dogs can be placed in a kennel in the back of the car. Put a blanket of small animals in cages, so stay calm, and they don’t notice the changing environment outside.

Have the supply kit with you. It’s essential to keep your pet hydrated on long car rides and cross-country trips. So stop every two to four hours to give your pet water and food.

Don’t let your pet out while travelling as they may run away and get lost. If your dog has to potty, put her on a leash. Take cats only out of the carrier when the car doors are closed.

If you have to journey by plane, check out this resource about traveling with pets on a flight.

Tips after the move: How do I help my pet adjust to moving?

Below are things you can do calm your pet after moving and help them adjust to the new home. Most animals aren’t fond of moving, but there are a few steps you can take to help them getting used to the new environment. Be patient and reassuring while your transitions to the new home.

Create a safe, secluded space

Set up an enclosed, quiet area or room where your pet can relax and calm down after the move.

  • Put up furniture and objects they are used from the old home first.
  • Set up their familiar feeder and drinking bowl.
  • Set up their familiar bedding or basket and lay out their favourite toys.
  • Stick to your pet’s feeding and walking routine.

Pet-proof the new home and garden

Look for anything that could be a danger (cords, tight spaces) and check for the fencing or wall for gaps and holes.

Keep your pet indoors

Keep dogs indoors for the first few days and let them get used to their new home. Be with your dog when you take her into the garden for the first time. Keep your dog on a leash for the first few walks in the new neighbourhood.

Cats need much longer than dogs to adjust to the new surroundings, and you should keep them indoors for four weeks before letting them go outside.

Update your pet’s information

Change the address on the collar. You may also have to contact the vet or pet microchip registry your pet is enrolled with to update your contact details.

Let the neighbours know

When you introduce yourself to the new neighbours, let them know about your pets, too. You might find a walking buddy for your dog and your neighbours can be helpful to find your pet in case they stray or get lost.

Other resources

For more useful tips, have a look at these six tips for helping your cat move home and check out this article about moving with your dog.

Our free printable moving checklist for pets has everything you need to stay organised and reduce stress throughout the move. Download the printable below and plan out the move!

Free printable checklist for moving with pets

Our free printable moving checklist for pets has everything you need to stay organised and reduce stress throughout the move. Download the printable below and plan out the move!

Over to you!

Thanks so much for visiting Country Hill Cottage – we’re so happy you’re here! Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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Irena xx

Sadie Ake

Thursday 24th of October 2019

Very valuable info. Thank you for sharing your valuable post.


Wednesday 9th of October 2019

We learned the hard way with our dogs not to expect them to figure out where to go potty right away. Spend a couple of days making sure you re-potty train them until they know where they are supposed to go. Cleaning up accidents while trying to unpack is not fun.

Irena | Country Hill Cottage

Wednesday 9th of October 2019

Thank you for sharing this useful tip, Jamie! My cats needed a while to adjust, too.

A Life Adjacent

Tuesday 25th of June 2019

Great tips! Good to know if we move again!

Irena | Country Hill Cottage

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

Many thanks! I'm glad you find them helpful.


Friday 14th of June 2019

Feliway is a must during moves! I wish I had known about it when we moved, but we did use it for my mom's cat during a move. My cat hid for two week after we moved :(

Irena | Country Hill Cottage

Saturday 15th of June 2019

It's very helpful indeed. My cats weren't happy about moving either but now they've settled in quite well.

Rebecca Dillon

Thursday 13th of June 2019

These are great tips! I've moved a LOT and it's always so stressful on my dachshund. I'll definitely incorporate these tips the next time we move.

Irena | Country Hill Cottage

Friday 14th of June 2019

Thank you, Rebecca! I'm happy to hear that you find these tips helpful.

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