Everyone wants a stress-free move, yet without the right plan, the experience can be full of challenges—especially when you’re moving with animals.

The Best Ways to Move with Pets

Each type of pet has unique needs and sensitivities. (Not to mention its own personality!) Taking all of these factors into consideration can help ensure that everyone in the family has a smooth transition into your new home.

1. Cats

Since cats are creatures of habit, it often helps to introduce them to the concept of moving slowly. You can start by leaving moving boxes around for them to investigate. Having some new “toys” to play with might help them warm up to the idea of change!

As you pack and even on the day of the move, try to maintain the usual feeding and playtime schedules for your cat. Another great tip is to take short practice drives with your cat to help them get used to being in their pet carrier. You’ll want them to be as comfortable as possible when it’s time to hit the road and travel to your new address. Keeping a familiar blanket or toy with them can help.

Once you’re in the new home, it’s usually best to confine your cat to a single room initially. Plan to set up their litter box, food, water, and any bedding in the same place. Having their familiar items together in a new space can help cats feel more at ease. Then, as you continue getting settled, you can gradually open up more rooms for your kitty too.

2. Dogs

Introducing your dog to a new home will typically follow the same general guidelines. Setting up a comfortable space for your dog and having familiar items nearby can help ease some of the stress of being in a strange place.

The same goes for “moving day.” If you haven’t arranged for a doggy daycare visit or pet sitter, be sure to designate a quiet and safe space for your dog to stay in while everything is getting loaded up into the moving truck. This can help them feel less overwhelmed, and also works as a precaution to keep them from running out the door and getting in the way outside. Of course, scheduling a little extra playtime wouldn’t hurt! And if nothing else, as you drive to your new home, be sure to make frequent stops for potty breaks, a little exercise, and water.

3. Reptiles

Whether you’re taking care of a lizard, snake, or turtle, you know that environment is huge for reptiles. As you plan for your move, you’ll need to take the necessary precautions to help your pet stay safe.

It might be necessary to use heat packs or heat lamps for temperature control, so assess the weather and plan accordingly. You don’t want them to get too cold, yet too much heat is just as bad. It’s best to keep reptiles out of direct sunlight during travel, as it can cause overheating.

Along the way, you’ll also want to keep disturbances to a minimum. Limit handling during the move and avoid stressing out your reptile. If possible, let them stay in their normal container so they have their regular places to relax and hide.

4. Rodents

Stability is key for hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits too. For these critters, you might want to keep their cages covered during the move. Adding some fresh bedding to their cages or carriers can help them settle down and reduce stress too. Try your best to keep the loud noises down. And above all else, make sure they have plenty of water!

5. Fish

Moving fish can be tricky, but careful planning will help you have a smooth transition. Ideally you’ll be able to transport your fish in their regular aquarium. But more likely, you’ll need to move them in bags filled with their tank water.

Depending on the distance of your move, you might be able to just set those bags in an insulated container to regulate temperature. But for longer moves, you may need to rig up a battery-operated air pump or portable filter during transportation. Then as soon as you arrive at your new home, make it a priority to set up the aquarium first so they can return to their own home-sweet-home!

6. Birds

Some bird owners find that playing soothing music or having white noise in the car can help minimize stress for their pets. As with moving any animal, though, just be sure to do what you can to keep things as calm as possible. Covering the cage partially will reduce visual stimulation during travel, and you can also talk to them and offer treats to give them a little reassurance.

Remember, patience and familiarity are key to helping your pets adjust to their new surroundings. You’ll need to keep a close eye on your pet’s behavior and health during and after the move. Changes in appetite or behavior might be signs of illness or lingering stress, so address those concerns ASAP. Then everyone can start enjoying life in your new place!