My Pet World: Moving? Please take your pets with you
My daughter has two dogs and two cats from an animal shelter. The two dogs are pugs and are about nine years old. The cats are about four years old, and one has health issues. She is thinking of moving from New York to Washington state due to a career change. Should she take them with her or think about giving them away (which she doesn't want to do)? Is there a safe way of driving cross country with them? – Deb, New Hyde Park, New York
Please encourage her to take her pets with her. When animals are given away or left at an animal shelter, these animals are usually very depressed for quite some time as they mourn the loss of their family. They also are rarely rehomed or adopted together, which traumatizes the animals even further.
People move all the time with their pets, and it can be a very positive experience. It just requires planning. There are many pet-friendly hotels so your daughter will have no problem finding accommodations as she drives across the country. She will need to carry leashes, medications, pet food, water, and their beds. I recommend the pets be kept in kennels large enough for them to stand and turn around in. (If they are loose in the car that may cause an accident.) If there is a space issue, find ways to carry the luggage on top of the car. The animals must always ride inside the vehicle. (While obvious, it has to be said.)
Along the drive, stop at rest areas so your dogs can stretch and relieve themselves. Plan for 10 to 15 minutes outside the car every few hours, which is what is recommended for people who are driving as well. Keep a litter box in the car so the cats can do the same. One of you must stay in the car to let the cats out of their kennels. Do not open the car doors again until the cats are returned to their kennels to ensure one of them doesn’t bolt from the car. Don’t worry if the cats don’t drink or use the litter box along the way. They will eat and use the litterbox when you are settled into a hotel for the evening.
While a little more work, your daughter can and should keep her pet family together. Make sure they are all microchipped before she goes.
For the past four years, my two cats, a 13-year-old and seven-year-old, regularly hack and throw up their food and hairballs. I add water to their food, but one day accidentally put in lots more water and they drank it. Since that time, about seven months ago, she hacks very little, and has only thrown up two hairballs and no food. I wonder if the added water would help other cats who have a hairball problem. – Pat, Appleton, Wisconsin