My recent experience with moving (again, for the hundredth time) allowed me to implement a few valuable tidbits around what I learned about pets (specifically my cat) and travel. Now pets are interesting creatures. I think many of us assume that their level of awareness is nigh as high as ours (and for some, like people, I think this is true). You get the odd fair few creatures that are super aware; you can just tell by looking at them that they probably know what you had for breakfast. Ever tried to take your pet to the vet? Yeah, the little buggers know when that day is imminent and make themselves scarce. My childhood pet cat always pooped in his cat cage in the car on the way to the vet. We all had to hang out the windows like Ace Ventura in fear of suffocation.... but I digress... Most people have had a highly distressed animal to take care of when they relocate. Here are a few things I've learned that may help you and your fur baby next time.
A bit of background...
I'll keep this short but it was the breakthrough I was seeking for the poor fluffy creature for a while so stay with me...
The last time I moved with Winter (pictured) it almost ended in disaster. The cat and I were so stressed out towards the end of about 3 months that I was of the impression that she'd lost her marbles (I definitely had by then). It was to the point of attacking me several times a day. There were many days of tending to wounds, yelling, crying, comforting and just general shittiness. To cut a long story short, I decided to ask a kinesiologist I knew if she treated animals. She said normally only for friends and family but she'd be happy to help Winnie Poo. Unbeknownst to me, that was the start of a very illuminating road towards a connection with my cat I never knew I would/could have. Claire did a wonderful job of balancing her heart chakra (I learned that animals have chakras too) and gave us a flower remedy to help (again, learned something new here). This stuff all made the most amazing difference. Winter was a new cat within a day and life went on.
Not long after a kitten called Delilah joined us and I again wanted to help Winter settle (being a little angry a new feline was in the house). This is where another beautiful person helped me understand how connected to animals we truly can be. Bianca consciously connects with animals and is able to convey both their messages to us and ours to them (the third thing I learned!). This session helped both Winter and me with our dreaded vet trips. This cat would get so stressed with these visits that she would get the flu for a week after. It was distressing in the least.
Want a plan of action for moving? Read on...
Tell your pet(s) what is happening - This was one of THE most important things I did with Winter. Pets are so in tune to our stressors and emotions, but what they lack is the comprehension to understand what is happening to cause those. It's up to us as responsible pet owners to inform our pets what is happening and why. They are part of the family and have a right to know too. My form of communication is both verbal and non-verbal (where I think of what is happening/going to happen and show that to Winter as pictures in my mind). So with the move, as soon as we were planning on looking at places I started communicating this to her. I told her we were planning on moving, that it may not be a forever home but it's a better one, the reason why we are upheaving everyone and everything, and when we plan on doing this. As the day grew closer and closer the info got more frequent. Result? I had a calm and less apprehensive cat who to this day has not had a bout of flu from the move.
Use natural remedies - This will help to help keep them calm and potentially avoid getting sick. The things I like to use with Winter (suitable for both cats and dogs) are flower remedies such as Bach and Bush Flower Remedies* (this one comes in both drops and a spray). And my number one go-to essential oils for her (during most times actually) are Frankincense and Lavender⌃. These two are gentle enough to use on and around your cat or dog.
Ways I use these two oils:
2 drops of both in the diffuser and let it run during the day - at least 1 week prior to moving
1 drop of Lavender on her bedding - she has a cat cave which she's constantly in
1 drop of Lavender on my hands which I then use to lightly touch the fur on the scruff of her neck and her chest area under her chin.
*if you would like more info on the use of flower remedies for pets then please see Animal Healing with Australian Bush Flower Essences. I have this book on hand and it has proven to be invaluable
⌃please be careful when using essential oils near or on your pet. They are not only more sensitive to them but if you are using low-grade oils then you will be putting other chemicals into their little bodies too. Be sure to use high-grade oils
Other things to try...
Give them a good feed - if your cat or dog tends to lose their appetite when they stress out then it's not a bad idea to bump up their food for the week prior to your move. It puts a bit of fat on them in case they decide to turn their noses up at their food once you've moved. If your pet already struggles to eat wayyyy before you move then try something delicious - and super healthy - like Ziwipeak (no affiliation). These guys from NZ have it right. They make both cat and dog food like it should be done. It's a great option as the food is high in nutrition and if you get the canned food it will have a lovely smell to entice your furry friend to eat.
Don't wash bedding - avoid washing your pet's bedding (and maybe even your own if your pets sleep on there) for a while. Why? Well, it has all those familiar scents your pet associates with safety and comfort. Once settled, you can chuck all that stuff in the wash.
Get some butter - yeah, this is getting weirder, isn't it? :p Stay with me, this one works a charm. If you have an outdoor cat then the quickest way to get your new kitty familiar with your new home (and thus make it less likely for it to run off looking for the old on) is to pop some butter on it's paws for the first week after you've moved in. It's also recommended that you keep them in the house this long too so they can get use to their new digs. Why butter? Well, it's something tasty that they will naturally want to lick of their paws and in doing so get the new house's scent all over them. You can try coconut oil too, some cats love this.
Would you like more info?