7 Tips for Moving with Pets in Los Angeles
Imagine waking up one morning, your home is being packed up, and people you don't know are taking your stuff outside. One box after another, all your possessions are out the door.
Strangers in your house too! You hate strangers. You're confused and stressed, so your partner puts you in the car. Eventually, after what feels like an eternity, you're brought to an unknown location. It smells weird and looks different. The place you took your naps is gone. The bathroom? That's different too. And despite your repeated inquiries as to what is going on? You are told to “be quiet” and don't know why this is happening.
Sounds pretty stressful, right?
That's often how our pets can feel when we move. Little Fluffy, Champ and Garfield can all react differently; some pets will become a lot more stressed than others. If you are a cat owner, you are very aware of their distaste for change, and a move is one of the most significant changes you can make in a cat's life.
Does this mean you are stuck in the same spot for as long as your fur babies live? No, not at all! Fortunately, there are ways of making the move much easier on your pets and they will eventually love their new home. To help you and your pets have a stress-free move, here are 7 tips for moving with pets in Los Angeles.
1. Pack early and strategically
Starting the packing process early and slowly will help your pets adjust. Going zero to a hundred can make things worse. Start by packing up a room they use the least, and keep the boxes tucked away as best you can. You aren't trying to hide the fact you’re moving; they don't understand what these boxes mean anyways, but the less chaotic their home is during this process, the less stress they will experience. We've compiled a list of packing tips here to help!
2. Pack a "carry-on" for your pet
When you go on vacation, you bring a carry-on. In the carry-on you pack your most important documents, medications, some food, a change of clothes, some toiletries… everything you could possibly need for at least one night. Do something similar for your pet. If you have a long road trip, this designated bag will make it easier for you. You don't want to go through a ton of boxes just to find their food. When you finally get to your new place, you will have everything you need to get your pet settled right away.
3. Organize your pet paperwork
Different cities have different regulations for pets. In Los Angeles, cats and dogs must be licensed. There are also laws regarding leash use, traveling in an open vehicle, barking, and more. For a full list, check out Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control Pet Laws here. If you are changing vets, contact your current vet in advance to get your pet's medical records and a list of vaccinations with dates. In LA, dogs are required to be vaccinated against rabies, in order to be licensed. If they have a chip or tag, make sure the contact information is still up to date.
4. Tuck away for moving day
If possible, bring your pets to a friend's house to spend the day. There is a lot of traffic in and out when you are moving, making it easy for pets to escape. Nothing makes moving day more stressful than chasing after your pet as it bolts down your street. If you don't have a place to bring them, try keeping them in a quiet room with the door closed. There are a ton of soothing pet playlists online that you can stream for them. This may sound extreme and very LA, but it will block out the sounds of the move. Having them behind a door while they can still hear what's going on can make them frantic. Another option is to turn on the TV, so there is some familiar background noise.
5. Practice for the road trip
If you have a long journey to get to your new home, start preparing them for it. If they are used to traveling by car or in a crate – perfect! This makes things easier. Most aren't, so get them used to it by taking short car rides. Neutral car rides that are not exciting nor stressful are the best way to get them ready for the move day. Cats and dogs aren't the only ones that get stressed in the car. Moving a fish can be extremely stressful and even fatal. Long-haul trips can be very risky, but you can transport them in a bag filled with their old tank water if traveling a short distance. For more guidance on your fish's specific needs and equipment for the move, speak with a local aquarium. For caged critters like hamsters and guinea pigs, do your best to secure their cage and reduce the jostling around. It's best that they travel with you in the car.
6. Pet-proof your new home
When you first get to your new place, it can be chaotic with electronics, plants, food, and boxes spread on your floor. Before bringing your pet in, make sure there is nothing that could hurt them. If you have a young dog that likes to chew on everything, put those wires and poisonous plants out of reach. If you have a bird and normally trust it to be outside the cage – it’s probably not a good idea today! This is a sad and common occurrence, and during this stressful move, your bird may fly straight out the front door and start a new life without you.
7. Ease in post-move
You've moved, and it's time to adjust to the new space. This can cause sensory overload for your pet. They may be tempted to explore every speck of dust and doorframe, but the more they do, the more overwhelmed they’ll feel. Start slow and in one room, the room they will spend the most time in. Unpack their bed, toys, food, and water and allow them to get used to this room before introducing them to other areas. Cats and dogs have different needs. Where a dog might lose it in an enclosed room, a cat may thrive. You know your pet best. If your cat feels extra anxious, you can start with a small room and put their litter box in there. That one room is their home. Gradually, move their litter box a foot each day until they have left the room and are in a new space. You can follow your pet's lead and see what they are comfortable with.