SPCA New Zealand

On the move with your pets

30 June 2020
On the move with your pets

It’s no secret that shifting house can be a stressful experience for everyone in the family – including your pets.

For our furry friends, the upheaval and new smells, loss of familiar sleeping spots, and unusual new places means some pets might find it hard to cope.

Here are our best tips for ensuring the move goes smoothly for everyone in the family.


Moving to a new house can be a high-risk time for cats and dogs to go missing, whether they escape from their old place, get lost at their new home, or somewhere in between. Ensuring their microchip details are up-to-date with your new address and phone numberis vital. SPCA cannot reunite lost animals with their owner if microchip details have not been updated with current contact details. Update your microchip details at www.animalregister.co.nz

And while you’re at it, be sure to update their identification tag with correct contact details!

That doggy in the window

Make sure that your new house is secure for your dog so they cannot escape. It is helpful to keep other aspects of your dog’s life as consistent as possible around a move such as maintaining the same routine and keeping familiar objects with the dog (like favourite beds or toys) and to spend lots of time keeping your dog company in the new house and helping them to feel secure and at home.

The cat came back

Keep in mind that some cats that have moved to a new home may want to return to their old surroundings. To avoid this, contain your cat indoors for at least two weeks, feeding as usual and providing a litter tray. Once the cat has been introduced to the whole house, let the cat roam the house to get their bearings, keeping doors and windows closed; this will help your cat feel more at home and establish their new territory, making it less likely that they will want to try and return to the old house.

SPCA supports indoor only cats and cats contained to properties. Containing your cat means preventing them roaming from your property at all times. Many owners now provide a safe and enriching environment for their cat at home all day, every day.

Packing up your home

Help your pets get used to the idea of moving by bringing in packing boxes early for them to sniff and get familiar with. Packing up the room they are the most familiar with last is also a good way to keep them calm before the big move. On moving day, keep your furry friends in a quiet room with the door shut, or better yet, take them to a friend’s house where they can be secured in a safe room while you move. This will reduce the chance of them getting scared or escaping while the movers are coming in and out of the house.

On the road

Pets might need to travel in crates or cars for the move. Ensuring they feel comfortable and used to their crate will make a big difference when moving day approaches. Use a sturdy, comfortable pet carrier that is large enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down in. This will provide a safe, escape-proof haven while travelling. Take a supply of water from home if you’re travelling a long distance.

As moving day approaches, let your pets get familiar with their crates by placing food inside an open crate, and eventually have them eat their meals in the crate with the door shut. You can also try carrying your pets around the house in the crate or by taking a short drive. You can help your pets develop a positive association with the crate by providing treats and playtime at the conclusion of crate time. Taking these steps will make moving day a lot more comfortable for you and your pet!

Settling in

A new environment can be overwhelming for a pet, so allow them to explore their new home one room at a time. Allow them to adjust to their ‘home base’ – the room they will be spending the most time in. This room should include their favourite toys, treats, water and food bowls, and a litter box for cats.

If your pet appears to be stressed with the change in their surroundings, talk to your veterinarian.

Keep all aspects of your pets' lives as consistent as possible following the move: maintain their same routines, including feeding, and spend lots of time with your pets in the new house to help them feel secure and at home.

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