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Norwich Bulletin - 1/17/2011

How To Move With 28 Cats


Okay, no-one is ever allowed to write a letter to me saying that moving out of state with one or two cats is too difficult and they want to place them into new homes. I just moved an entire household and 28 cats to Florida on a holiday weekend! So this column is all about how to make it possible and even easier on your cats when you move.

I started preparing a few months before I was scheduled to leave. Every one of my cats made a trip to my friends at Colchester Veterinary Hospital for complete check-ups. All shots were updated. Dentals were done wherever needed and anyone over ten years old had a complete blood workup done so I knew they were all healthy enough to travel.

It was a sad time because one of the most difficult decisions I had to make when opting to move south for most of the year, was being willing to give up my vets of thirty-five years. And I know that they felt the same as I always tried to be a good client. But the call of no snow brought me to my final decision to actually leave.

So how do you move with a large amount of cats and a two day trip? What to do about water, food, litter, and sleeping arrangements? Who would get along enough to be in the same carrier and what kind of carrier to use? This was not an easy preparation at all. But it had to be done.

The first thing we did was remove everything from the walls, shelves, etc. and pack them in totes. The cats new something was up but the furniture was still there so they were okay with it. My husband took a twenty foot trailer and brought a load of totes and boxes and put them into a rented storage unit. He actually made three moves before the closing on the house.

Our next step was to make sure there was a kitty courtyard waiting to greet them when they got to their new home. So right after the closing, I stayed in Connecticut with the cats and furniture and he stayed in Florida to oversee the building of the fence. This was important to us because of the number of kitties we were moving with us. They had to have a comfortable place to go to immediately, as well as somewhere to “store” them when the movers got there with our furniture.

Once the fence was up it was time to figure out the actual move. We talked with people who we knew that had moved a long distance with large numbers of animals and they all said the same thing; rent an RV! Well, we had a friend who happened to have an RV they weren’t using and we talked them into a trip to Florida.

We put show tents up in the RV with beds, hammocks, litter, food and water and were able to put three cats in each tent. Luckily we had enough of happy cats that like each other and could live in a closed space for a couple of days. That took care of the first 21.

Next, we prepared the van and put in large dog carriers for cats that would travel with one friend and for those who had to be single travelers. We do have a few that don’t play well with others and so they had to be in their own space. It wasn’t easy but I wrote down who would go with who and when the list was complete, it was time to actually get everyone where they needed to be.

It took four hours to gather everyone up and get them to their designated spots. I think if we had thought of having it videotaped we would probably have won some sort of comedy award. But it was finally done and at seven pm I waved goodbye to my husband and family friend as they left for Florida. This is something I heartily recommend. If you have two vehicles that have to move with you – send your husband with the cats. It is so less stressful (for you). I was happy to deal with the movers.

The cats trip was fairly uneventful. When they got to their new home, their cat trees, condos, litterboxes and food and water dishes were already set up on the enclosed porch and kitty courtyard. While some of them stressed for a few days, by the time I arrived and then the movers, everyone had settled in.

No one reading my columns will ever have to move this many cats at once. But on a lesser scale, there is no reason your one or two cats cannot make a cross country trip with you to a new home. What you need to do is make sure they have a larger carrier/crate with litter, food, water, etc. and if you are going to stay in a hotel, make sure they come in with you. If they are scaredy cats by nature, just bring in the carrier. One of two days in a carrier will not hurt them as much as being left behind by their family. Trust me on that one.

When you get to your new digs, make sure they have some familiar things around the house/apartment/condo that they can relate to. You will be surprised how much less stressed they are than you!!! Cats are resilient and they do love their people – they would prefer to be with you anywhere than trying to find and then break in a new family. Next week? How to find a new vet.

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