No matter how well you plan your move, there’s always something that seems to get away. We hope those “things” aren’t your pets. The commotion of moving – favorite chairs packed away, hiding places under the bed suddenly missing, strange people being in the house – add stress not only to your life but to your furry family’s.
“Atlas was a great cat,” said Liz K., now of Charlotte. “He wasn’t one of those high-maintenance cats you had to be really careful around. I don’t know what it is about cats and cat carriers and long rides, but on our way from South Carolina to North Carolina he just out of nowhere got an upset stomach.”
His carrier buckled in the passenger seat, Atlas was part of a car full of cargo. Clothes and lamps and dishes and boxes of small, breakable objects were packed in the backseat and trunk. Never a fan of car trips, Atlas had been unhappily meowing for hours. Then his kitty distress turned into kitty caterwauling.
“He began crying really loudly – the kind of cry when you know something is horribly wrong. And there was the smell.” Liz said. “We were on a long stretch of highway and there wasn’t really any place to go, so I pulled over on the side of the road.”
Once Liz got the car stopped and opened the passenger side door, she could see a tiny set of amber eyes looking up at her through the cat carrier.
“He was pitiful, but even then I didn’t grasp the full extent of the situation,” Liz said.
She opened the cat carrier door and reached inside where she got a handful of putrid fur.
“It wasn’t just that he had created a mess inside the carrier,” Liz said. “It was that he had then become part of the mess. The inside of the carrier was covered. He was covered. And there I was alone on the side of the highway.”
That’s when Liz heard a voice.
“Ma’am, are you okay?”
Startled, Liz looked up. A highway patrol cruiser had pulled up behind her and an officer was standing behind the cruiser’s open door – his left hand gripping the top of the door and his right hand just out of sight somewhere around his side.
Liz paused for a moment before lifting her soiled cat, grasped firmly in both hands, like some kind of “Lion King” tribute.
“I wish I could say that I was more delicate about it, but there may have been an expletive or two involved in my explanation,” Liz said.
The officer looked at her, nodded, and got back in the cruiser.
“Really I could have used a hand,” Liz said.
With no cleaning supplies on hand and in a precarious location on the side of a busy highway, Liz had no choice but to shove poor Atlas back in his box.
“We drove another couple of miles until I saw a sign for a fast food restaurant,” she said. “I went in and got a ton of napkins and a big cup of water. Atlas had to settle for one of two things, being clean or being wet. We were both worse the wear afterwards, and we still had another two hours to go.”
So what might make moving with a pet easier? Planning ahead is step number one.
Whether you’re moving across the neighborhood, across town, across the state, or across the country, maximize whatever time you have to get ready. Pets respond to your stress levels, so the better you are at handling moving tasks the better they will feel.
Maintain Routine: Keep to your normal schedule when it comes to walks, feeding, play time, and snuggles. Routines provide a sense of security in that your pet knows what is supposed to happen. If you use treats as a reward and find yourself needing more treats than usual to keep your pet entertained and out of the way, at least be sure not to introduce any new foods that may cause digestive distress.
Fill the Pantry: Is your pet on a special diet? Make sure that you have the food supplies you’ll need so that you don’t find yourself in a new place with nothing for Fido to eat. Abrupt dietary changes can make animals sick. If you use a delivery service, check your shipment schedule and that they have your new address.
Fill the Medicine Cabinet: The same thing goes for any medications your pet may need. Consider medications like insulin that need to be refrigerated and be sure to have a small cooler and ice pack. Round up a few first aid supplies in case of emergencies and talk to your vet about mild sedatives for long rides.
Collect Favorite Belongings: Whether it’s a bed, toy, or blanket, make sure that the things that give your pet comfort and a feeling of being in “their” space don’t get packed. Keep these items with your pet.
Put Together Medical Records: Having paper copies (or digital copies you can easily access and send) of vaccinations, medications, spay/neuter surgeries and so forth will make life easier in the event you need to find an emergency vet, day-care facility, overnight boarding, or just a new vet in your new location. Some cities require copies of vaccination records in order to register your pets as citizens. Remember that items such as prescription diets or medications also require vet orders.
Corral Containment Units: Your pet may be the best behaved pet that’s ever been and will stay in one place when told, but that doesn’t mean that don’t need a leash or carrier. Some establishments require that pets be transported and kept in a carrier and leash laws are common, particularly on public property. Be prepared, as these rules also help protect your animal from other animals. If your cat or dog is not used to a carrier or leash, put in some time making these things less scary with training.
Go Places: Whether you have a fat cat who is happiest in a sunny window or an elderly dog who sleeps at your side, you may have a pet who is a homebody. Practice taking a few trips (that aren’t to the vet) to establish positive connections with travel. Load up and take a ride around the block and then come home. Go find a drive-up ATM to conduct your banking. Build up the time spent in the car and reward good behavior with positive verbal reinforcement and petting. (Treats may not be a good idea until you know whether your pet is prone to car-sickness.)
Check the Weather: You may think that you can leave your pet in the car and run inside for a quick lunch while on the road, but WATCH OUT! Temperatures inside a car can soar to dangerous degrees, even when it doesn’t seem all that hot outside. If you wouldn’t want to sit in the car with the windows rolled up and the a/c off, then your pet – who is covered in fur – certainly doesn’t want to either. Cold weather also presents a danger. If you wouldn’t want to sleep outside without a heat or a blanket, then neither does your pet.
Visit the Neighborhood: Though much less practical with cats, birds, iguanas, and other animals, a walk around the new neighborhood prior to moving is a great way to let your pet get familiar with the territory. There will be new sites and smells to indicate where “home” is.
Depending on how big a move you’re making, you may need a bit of time without your animal friends in order to get things done. Perhaps you don’t know the schedule for your new job or you know that you won’t be able to make it home in time for dinner. Go ahead and call for help! Pet sitters, day-care centers, dog walkers, and boarding facilities provide lots of options.
Reputable facilities will require medical documentation of current vaccinations including rabies, plus panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, feline viral rhinotracteitis for cats, or distemper and Bordetella bronchiseptica for dogs. Note that the feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia vaccinations often come in a combination shot (FVRCP), which is sometimes called the “distemper shot.” Dogs are most susceptible to Bordetella though it may also infect cats, rabbits, and, in rare cases, humans. Many facilities also encourage a flu vaccine.
You may not know off the top of your head what vaccinations were given when, which is why it’s so important to keep a copy of your pet’s medical records on hand. Online document storage is a great option for these kinds of records. Programs like DropBox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive provide free to low-cost solutions that allow you to access documents from anywhere and at any time (given internet access).
Finding a vet, boarding facility, day-care center, pet sitter, or dog-walker you can trust may feel like a daunting task. If you have a real estate agent or apartment manager, ask for recommendations. The local chamber of commerce or merchants’ association also will tend to know who has a great – or not so great – reputation. Reviews on Google or Yelp can help you narrow down your options. Just need a little help making sure your dog gets out side for a walk? Try Wag. Wag walkers are pre-screened and company-approved, and the easy-to-use app makes scheduling a breeze. You’ll even get updates to follow along during the walk, pictures, video, and confirmation that your pet is back safe at home.
Here in the Charlotte area, you may want to check out the following pet-care companies to help you with your furry-family.
CARE | Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency
Always open, this hospital provides cardiology, internal medicine, neurology and neurosurgery, oncology, ophthalmology, and general surgery services in addition to emergency medicine for a variety of animals. Their diagnostic services include ultrasound, echocardiography, endoscopy, rapid-scan CT, and MRI.
3726 Latrobe Drive, Charlotte, NC 28211 | 704.457.2300
Always open, this emergency facility provides an extensive list of services including cancer diagnosis and treatment, cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, behavioral counseling, dentistry, pain management, end-of-life care, as well as boarding, day camp, and spa treatments. Specialized boarding services are available for medical cases such as animals with diabetes, incontinence, pets undergoing chemotherapy, and other conditions. Exotic animal boarding also is provided, so your rabbits, rodents, ferrets, birds, fish, reptiles, mini pigs, and other small mammals have a place to stay!
3832 Monroe Road, Charlotte, NC 28205 | 704.334.4684
This daycare and boarding facility has indoor and outdoor play areas, luxury boarding rooms, webcams to check in on your pup in real time, and spa services. New clients must be at least 14 weeks old, spayed/neutered if 6 months or older, with current vaccinations, and healthy, confident, friendly pups. An interview is required during which you and your pup explore the facility, meet staff, and meet other dogs. If your dog seems comfortable, he or she can stay for a free day of day care. After a successful first visit, you can drop in for day care at any time.
8702-A Statesville Road, Charlotte, NC 28269 | 704.921.2434
Just need to get out of the house and meet someone new? Lucky Dog Bark & Brew is an indoor/outdoor dog park and sports bar. Go play, or, if you can’t stay, make an appointment online and drop your pup off for daycare, boarding, and baths. An interview is required on your first visit to determine how comfortable and compatible your dog is with the Bark & Brew crew. You can pick up your pup as late as 9 p.m. 7 days a week. A bonus to Bark & Brew is that you don’t even have to have a dog to visit. You can simply like dogs and want to hang out with them – and be over age 21. Get something to eat from one of the local food trucks that visit Bark & Brew and enjoy something to drink from the full bar. There are three Bark & Brew locations: Cornelius, Charlotte, and Steele Creek.
19607 Statesville Road, Cornelius, NC 28031 | 704.896.5550
2220 Thrift Road, Charlotte, NC 28208 | 704.333.4114
13835 South Lakes Drive, Charlotte, NC 28273 | 980.552.0099
This cats-only facility offers individual condos and penthouse suites that provide room to explore with ledges to climb, posts to scratch, and beds to snuggle. Whether your cat is a gregarious friend to everyone or a shy one, there’s a room to suit. Professional, show-quality grooming services come with a de-greasing and de-shedding bath, blow dry, multiple brush outs, optional sanitary clip, nail trim, and eye/ear/face cleanse. Special services such as lion clips, de-matting, and belly shaves also are available. There’s even a special discount for those in the service industry like nurses, police officers, firefighters, teachers, military, and vet staff.
1045 Central Avenue, Suite B, Charlotte, NC 28204
Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking
If in-home services are what you need, Little Friends provides care in Charlotte and the surrounding areas of Pineville, Huntersville, Gastonia, Belmont, Matthews, Fort Mill, Concord and others. Pet sitters are bonded and insured. In-home visits are offered in 20- to 60-minute increments and can be booked for special occasions such as trips or on a recurring basis. Sitters can also check the mail, turn on/off the lights, water plants, and feed the fish. After an initial consultation visit, scheduling is easy to do online. The company also supports various pet rescues and charities throughout the year as a way of giving back to the community.
401 East Blvd., Suite 210, Charlotte, NC 28203 | 704.340.8102
Once you’re established in your new place, treat yourself to the benefit of some helping hands when it comes to cleaning. Furry Friends is an insured and bonded, pet-friendly cleaning service. Not only are all employees animal lovers who will spend some quality time with your furry family while they work, all the products they use are pet-safe. Each cleaning visit includes special attention to pet fur and dander while also providing a thorough cleaning for the kitchen, bathroom, and other areas. Pricing is based on the size of the home and whether purchasing a standard- or deep-cleaning service.
Charlotte, NC | 704.591.6002