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Moving With Your Pet and Other Life Changes

Updated on June 13, 2013

I had an acquaintance who had to make a long move across many states. As she was packing up and getting ready to go she mentioned that she was looking for homes for her pets. She said that it was just too hard and too much work to move the pets across the country.

Another friend decided to get rid of her cat once she found out she was pregnant. She worried that a cat might harm the baby. She mentioned she might get another cat when the baby got a bit older.

Both of these scenarios and the displacement of family pets could have been prevented with a bit of education and reaffirmation of the commitment and promise they made to their pets when they adopted them.

A Lifetime Commitment

Adopting a pet is saving a life. But it should be treated as an important decision on the same level as choosing who to marry, where to go to college or where to live. When you adopt a pet, you adopt a companion that can give you love and who will adore you and admire you. But you also need to realize that you are committing to their care and may have to work through behavioral or health issues.

There are times when a pet is more or less convenient. But as you go through life, your relationship with your pet changes. Adapting to these changes should be part of the process of pet ownership. Pets can and will adapt to change.


Unless you are moving out of the country, transporting pets to their new destination should be a part of your moving plan. (Pets can be moved internationally but there are different procedures in place.) Moving is stressful on everyone, but that doesn’t mean it should be an excuse to dump your pet. There are many websites to help you make plans to move your pet. Contact your vet to get copies of the pet’s medical papers. You then have options that range from taking the pet in the car with you to arranging to have them flown or shipped to the destination.

Tips for Moving Pets

A New Baby

Having a baby is a life-changing event for any family. But this does not mean that you automatically need to get rid of your pet. Pets can adjust to changes in the family and can be a comfort for everyone. Children who grow up with pets learn about nurturing and caring for others as well as develop deeper empathy for all living creatures. (

Pets can be a child’s first best friend.



If you are worried about your dog’s behavior, discuss these fears with your vet or a professional pet trainer. She can offer you advice, suggest resources for training your dog, and evaluate the dog’s personality. Dogs are loyal and loving friends. Allowing your dog and baby to grow up together insures a bond between them and is just as good for your dog as it is for your child.

When my kids were babies, I crate-trained my dog so that I could enclose him when I needed to and could also let him out in a supervised way as he learned to interact with the kids. My kids are older now and he’s fifteen but there was never a problem with their interactions or love for each other.


Many of the fears about cats and babies are nothing more than old wives' tales. Cats do not suck the breath out of baby. They are also not likely to sit on or suffocate a sleeping baby as long as proper precautions or taken.

When my children were babies in a multiple cat household, I had a crib tent over their bed so that a cat could not accidentally get into the crib with the baby. The crib tents have the added benefit of keeping the child from crawling out of the bed once they become more mobile.

Bad Habits Can Be Changed

If there is a change in your life, pets can feel the stress too. They are intelligent beings who respond to your emotions and the dynamics of the household.

If a dog starts barking or acting out, try to find the source of the problem.

  • Does he need more exercise?
  • Would a bit of extra attention help him cope?
  • Does he need to be put into a smaller room or crate when you are gone so that he feels more secure?

Your vet is a great resource and has likely seen the behavioral issues you are facing. He will likely have ideas and suggestions for helping your dog to adjust.

If a cat starts missing the litter box, stops eating or starts biting, she is likely feeling stress and is unsure about how to cope with it.

  • First make sure that there are no health problems. For example, sometimes stressed cats can develop UTI’s which can then cause them to miss the litter box.
  • After any health issues have been ruled out, try helping your cat adjust by placing her in a smaller room or bathroom with a litter box, food, and water. Make sure to visit her during the day and assure her that she is okay.

In some ways in can be just like introducing a new pet to the household; a gradual adjustment needs to be made.


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When There Are No Alternatives

There are times when a pet needs to be relocated due to a catastrophic family event such as a devastating illness. The best choice for a new home for your pet would be a family member or friend that you trust. If neither of these options is available, then contacting rescue groups and local vet offices is a great next step.

My vet will post notices for clients who need to find a home for their pet and they may also know of someone looking for a particular kind of pet.

Your local animal shelter is the next best place. Even if it is not a no-kill animal shelter, your pet faces a better chance of finding a home or at least being kept in a safe environment.

Dumping a pet outside is never a good idea. Contrary to popular belief, animals can’t survive on their own. Dumping them condemns them to death. Some will starve to death or succumb to disease or the elements. Others will face attacks from wild animals or meet their deaths under the wheels of a car. It is the most inhumane way to handle the need to find a new home for your pet.

Owning a pet is a choice, but once that choice is made, every effort should be made to keep that pet healthy happy for the entirety of its life.


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