So you’re moving from San Francisco to New York. You are probably hiring a moving company to make this transition.
Are you planning to leave your wife behind? No? Then why would you leave your dog or cat?
Our animals give us some of the best, most uncomplicated companionship we’ll ever get. And yet, many pets get tossed in a shelter or placed with irresponsible neighbors when their humans make cross-country moves.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Taking your best fur friend on your next adventure is always possible. You just have to do a little more planning.
How to transport your animal depends on how far you are going, how many animals you are moving, and the size of your pet(s).
Flying with your dog or cat
Most pet owners have heard the horror stories of dogs and cats killed in the cargo hold of a plane.
And it is true that too many things can go wrong in the cargo hold. Extremes of temperature and delayed flights are just two of the things that can injure or even destroy an animal in cargo.
A much safer way to fly with a cherished pet is simply to buy a seat for him. Very, very small dogs and cats can be put under the seat in front of yours. And, yes, there are carriers sized for that purpose. For a flight of two hours or less, that might be an acceptable solution.
For longer flights, your pet’s comfort demands the space of a bigger carrier and a seat next to you where she can be soothed by the sound of your voice and the sight of your loving face.
Be sure that your pet carrier is approved for air travel before arriving at the airport. The Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier is soft, lightweight, airline approved, and has a zip opening that lets your dog pop her head out of the carrier for a look around.
The Fat Cat Cat Backpack is a little pricey at $119. But it is designed to accommodate a cat in a sitting up position, which is what Princess would prefer. It also features good ventilation and soft sides. A magnifying pop-out bubble gives the traveling feline a landscape view of what’s going on outside her carrier and promises to alleviate her claustrophobia.
Flying with your dog or cat works well for people who:
- Are travelling with just one pet
- Are travelling with a cat or a dog of twenty pounds or less
- Do not or cannot drive
- Are uncomfortable with long road trips
- Can afford two airline tickets
- Are moving long distances, but can afford non-stop flights or day breaks between flights.
Be aware that airlines restrict what kinds of cats and dogs can fly. Brachycephalic dogs and cats, commonly known as snub-nosed, are susceptible to respiratory distress and increased chance of death in planes. Most airlines have banned these charming snub-nosed companions which include pugs, boxers, Staffordshire terriers, the “bully” variety of pit bulls, King Charles spaniels, and Shar-Peis.
According to experts, many snub-nosed cats, like the Burmese and Persian breeds, fly under the radar on some airlines, but not American. But under no circumstances should you put a snub-nosed dog or cat in cargo.
People with snub-nosed animals and those with larger dogs, generally exceeding twenty pounds, will need to find alternate transportation.
Also keep in mind that, unless a family member is driving your car, you will need to engage a moving company to help you get your automobile to your new destination if you fly.
Put Fido in the car with you
You have to get your car from your current home to your next anyway. Just load up a few provisions and then have your dog jump in the passenger seat.
You can make this much easier for yourself by hiring a moving company to bus the furniture, dishware, etc. and sending your children and spouse ahead by plane.
Your dog will need some pee breaks, but so will you. Stop at DOT rest areas so that you can easily walk your dog without getting far off the interstate.
Driving your pet to your new home seems like a no brainer if your destination is no further than one long day’s drive.
But you can drive a cat or dog across the entire width of the United States, with some extra preparation and planning. If you have two weeks to make the trip, you can turn this into a fun adventure for your dog, with scheduled hikes at state and national parks along the way. You might enjoy camping with your dog on a long road trip!
Crossing the country by car with cats is a little trickier, but not impossible. You will want to reserve a few nights at pet-friendly motels. Red Roof Inns are the pioneers in the pet-friendly accommodation trade, but their official policy limits you to one cat or dog. LaQuinta is the chain hotel of choice for people traveling with more than one animal companion.
Cats do need to be confined to carriers while traveling in your car. To neglect this rule is to invite disaster. Your cat might jump out of the car the second you open the door, fleeing into the night, never to be seen again. Or she might freak out and climb your leg while you are driving.
Cats will not pee or poop on command, as will dogs, so you have to line their travel carriers with sheets of newspaper and change the paper periodically.
Cats can be comfortable in a carrier for about six hours. By the ninth hour, they’re stressed and miserable. In fairness to your cat, you will need to space out your trip to limit the number of hours a day you spend on the road. Give Princess plenty of time to roam around your motel room and snuggle with you at the end of every day. Don’t forget to bring a travel litter box.
When travelling with a cat, drive-through restaurants are your friend. And you may want to practice eating in your car before you go.
Driving with your animal is a good choice for people who:
- Enjoy driving long distances
- Are only one or two days’ journey from their new home
- Have plenty of time to get to their destination
- Have multiple animals to transport
- Have big dogs or snub-nosed dogs or cats who are ineligible for flight
Pet relocation services
Last but not least, there are companies that specialize in moving pets safely from point A to point B. While this option may be pricier, especially if you are transporting multiple pets cross country, it’s the best option for people who are already at their wits’ ends with the stress of moving.
Because, let’s face it, you have to move an entire household. You may be packing everything yourself. You may be renting a truck to save money. The kids are screaming, the wife is mad at you for doing this to her again. The last thing you need is to worry about whether your cherished lab is going to get safely to the new house.
There are two kinds of pet relocation services: those that work with airlines and those that drive your pets to their next destination. If you are relocating within the United States, a pet service that keeps your fur companions on the ground is the safer bet.
Pet relocation is a relatively new service industry, but it is growing quickly. Some pet relocation services will monitor your pet’s health during the trip and provide veterinary care if needed. Some of these companies will microchip your pet for you. Still others navigate the complicated waters of overseas pet travel.
Pet relocation services are a good choice for anyone who:
- Cannot fly or drive with their pet(s) for any reason
- Is traveling overseas
- Has a pet with chronic medical issues, like diabetes or seizures
- Has a pet that is known to be sick or badly stressed during travel
Relocating a beloved companion animal does, admittedly, require some advance planning and possibly costs more than you wanted to spend. But the rewards are great.
After all, your cat or dog is there for you when you have a setback in your career, when you have a bad hair day, when you put on sweats and a ratty T-shirt. Your dog or cat reminds you that you are the most amazing, wonderful being in the universe, even when you don’t believe that yourself. How do you know you’ll find that kind of love again?