Our article "Moving Your Dog" (March 28) yielded tons of reader mail -- mainly from cat owners wondering about equivalent tips for uprooting their feline friends. As with a dog, you should begin by writing your cat's new address on a label and sticking it to the back of his existing tags, ensuring that he can be found if he goes AWOL, says Margot Kerr, a staff veterinarian at Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington. Then follow these tips to make sure your kitty -- and your sanity -- arrive at your new locale intact.
1Give him his
On the big day, you'll be coordinating the movers and unrolling the Bubble Wrap, but your cat will just want to know why some stranger made off with his litter box. To protect him from the chaos, set him up in an empty room with food, water and some of his favorite toys before the movers arrive. A sign on the door should warn people to keep it shut at all times. "Empty boxes are fun for cats," says Alexandra Powe Allred, author of the forthcoming book "Cats Most Wanted" (Brassey's Inc., $13). "The next thing you know, a bunch of towels get accidentally packed in and he gets trapped." Allred also recommends scattering your dirty laundry around the room so your cat can smell that you're not abandoning him.
2Invest in a crate
If you're traveling by car, crating your pet will keep him safe along the way. Make sure the container is large enough for him to stand up or turn around, and test its durability beforehand by placing a brick inside and shaking it; the crate shouldn't open or collapse. If you have an open crate, Allred recommends laying a beach towel over it for a cave-like effect. "It'll help them settle down and prevent them from watching everything whiz by," she says. Finally, before the trip, practice driving around your block.
3Have an emergency kit handy
Fill a small plastic bin with a bottle of water, cat food, a leash and harness, a first-aid kit, toys, and your pet's medical records. And don't forget to bring a litter box, which your cat can use en route or at a rest stop. (You can keep the litter box in the crate, although that may get a little messy.) If you do stop for a break, make sure your kitty is leashed before you open the car door, says Allred, to prevent him from bolting the minute he hits the pavement.
4Hold the food and water while driving
It's hard enough for humans to eat and drink in a moving vehicle, so you can imagine what it's like for your cat. Save sustenance breaks for rest stops or the end of the trip, unless your pet is a seasoned traveler and can eat and drink without getting sick.
to his new home
While you're unpacking and settling in to your new digs, keep your cat in a spare bedroom with his litter box, food and water for at least 24 hours, Kerr says. "Also try to keep things as familiar as possible," she says. "Now's not the time to be getting new bowls or a new bed." Gradually introduce him to the rest of the house and personally escort him to his litter box, so he knows where his space is. If you have an indoor/outdoor kitty, start him off by putting a large dog cage on your deck or porch and putting him in it for an hour or so each day for one week. "This way," Allred says, "your cat can get used to the smells of the neighborhood without running off on his own adventure."
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