Essential pet advice with vet Jo Gourlay

Having recently moved house I’ve spent the last two weeks reminding my toddler cats are not for chasing; my cats that they will get outside again and the torment will stop and myself that it will get better! So over the next couple of articles we take a look at why we need to keep cats inside after a move and what else you need to think about to keep them safe and under minimal stress during this hectic time.

In advance of the move ensure your pets are sufficiently identified and their vaccinations are up to date not only so they are ready to explore their new environment but just in case, for some unforeseen event, they end up needing to go into a cattery or kennels. Dogs are legally required to have a disk on their collar with your name and relevant postcode and, if you use a collar on your cats, this should also be updated, as should any microchip details. If they are not microchipped it’s a really good idea to get it done as collars can be easily lost if they go missing. If possible check out your new garden before you arrive and secure the boundary so it’s safe for dogs to get out and explore. In addition, investigate local walks so you know where they can have a good run which will help settle them into a new routine. It’s also a good idea to have a contact number for the local vet (if you are moving far enough to change practice) just in case you have any problems.

On the day of the move and immediately before it’s a good idea to confine pets to one room (either together or separately depending on how they get on), to minimise anxiety and also reduce the chance of escape. Put a notice on the door so anyone helping you move knows not to go into that room. Ensure essential items such as bedding, toys, water and litter trays are provided, consider using a pheromone diffuser (can help reduce anxiety), and allow access to any carrier you intend to transport them in (a secure carrier is a must for cats even on a very short journey). If they are likely to get very wound up consider putting them into a cattery or kennel for a few days until you get at least one room in the new house ready for them. If you are moving some distance take advice from your vet before travelling about feeding and whether sedation is appropriate and make sure you allow for plenty of stops.

Once you get to your new home, despite the inevitable chaos, try to establish a routine as soon as possible. Cats should be kept inside for at least two weeks, initially confining them to one room then gradually allowing access to the rest of the house a room at a time. Ensure windows and external doors are shut and that gaps behind things like kitchen units are sealed off. In addition to the diffuser mentioned above, you can also help make your cat feel secure by spreading their scent around the house. To do this rub a cloth gently on their cheeks (bit they rub up against you) and wipe the cloth on cat height bits of furniture, walls and doorways.

Next week we finish this topic by looking at what to do when first letting your pets out and about, how to deal with them wanting to get back to their new home if you live close enough and the additional problems if cats also have a lifestyle change either becoming totally indoor cats or suddenly being allowed out for the first time.