I have moved several times with mattie and shea and found a few successful methods to keep the stress for them to a minimum. Shea is fairly laid-back, but Mattie is extremely sensitive to anything new, always needing to be certain of her surroundings before she feels comfortable. She feels anxious in any new situation and requires reassurance.
Several days prior or during the most disruptive period of a move you might consider putting flower or gem essences that help with dealing with change in their water bowl. In Bach flower essences you can use rescue remedy and walnut; with Australian bush flower essences, emergency remedy. Continue using it for a week or two after you are in the new premises.
If you have access to the new home prior to the move, take your animals (especially cats) over to that place for a few hours and allow them to familiarise themselves with the new surroundings. By this I mean allowing your cats to be inside only, and perhaps inside and outside for dogs, making absolutely sure they aren’t able to leave the area. This way they’ll become more familiar with the smells and the set up of the new conditions before the big move. The new place will not be foreign to them when you do make the move. I’d do this at least once, hopefully twice, before the actual relocation.
When we do this, Mattie and Shea would be in the cat carrier for at least ten minutes after we arrive at a new home, and they’d meow loud and long. Then, once venturing out, they would proceed with absolute caution, as though there were minefields all over the house, meowing to make us aware they aren’t too happy about this. Thankfully they usually only do this on the first visit. By going through this process, it makes our moves relatively anxiety free and the settling in almost immediate.
I suggested these methods to Carmen whose Siamese, Julius, did not want to move and lose the freedom he had to roam (see Chapter 22, ‘New Environments’). Carmen said she’d let me know how the move went as far as Julius was concerned. Three weeks later Carmen gave me the update. She couldn’t believe how easily Julius had settled in. The suggestions worked, and Julius looked calm and relatively stress free. Julius had not yet ventured out the front of the property near the busy road, and for Carmen that would always be a concern. There will more than likely come a day when he’d find it necessary to explore that area, because he needs to be able to have a sense of his own independence.
Sometimes there are other complicating factors in a move, such as the break-up in a relationship or marriage, with everything haggled over, including your beloved companions. This is debilitating for the people concerned, as well as for your animals who will be torn between the two people they love. There is more often than not extreme tension leading up to a relationship breakdown, and the tension usually continues for some time afterwards, and this can be quite unsettling.
Animals rarely have any say about who they end up with after a split, and they may not see one of their loved persons ever again. It can be very trying, so you’ll need to give them much affection, understanding and patience. Just as you need time to heal, so do your animals.
Rory and Elaine were married for five years when they decided to separate. They dearly loved Prince their Golden Retriever but Elaine felt it was better for Prince to reside with her as Rory was often travelling with his work. Elaine was also moving back to the country with her parents and Prince would have lots of room to run around in his new home. With work commitments and Prince being so far away from the city, visits from Rory would be rare. Rory felt devastated. Although Prince loved Elaine it took him several months to adjust to the new living conditions, and the long gaps of time between visits from Rory.
On a brighter note, some animals couldn’t be happier about new living conditions. There are times when home actually improves, especially when moving from a confined situation to having a backyard, or being able to roam in bushland. In many instances the reason people instigate this relocation is to provide a better home for their animal companions.
One of the things I love most about animals is that even when they are going through stress, they manage to be there for us as support, offering endless love. All they want for us is love and happiness, so remember to offer this to them also. Animals share such a big part of our lives and we can impact on them so deeply by our actions.