11/2/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

By Cathy M. Rosenthal

In ‘My Pet World,’ animal advisor Cathy M. Rosenthal offers tip for moving with cats and dogs.

Dear Cathy,

We are downsizing, having sold our house, and seeking a smaller home in a condo development. We have three cats. I worry they might try to “go back home,” get a little freaked out or have a difficult adjustment with the move. They will be going from a four-bedroom house to a two bedroom. Any help would be appreciated. 

– Rande, Bohemia New York

Dear Rande,

If your cats are indoors, you have nothing to worry about. While there may be some testy exchanges while they reestablish their territories, they will adjust to their new, less spacious surroundings if you are calm yourself and get things back to normal as soon as possible. 

If they go outdoors, keep them in the new place for several weeks before allowing them outside again. Open a few windows so they can learn the “scent” of the neighborhood and your home. 

For their safety though, I advocate keeping cats indoors with fresh-air options like cat tents, catios, which are screened-in patios just for cats, or regular screened-in porches where your felines can hang out safely and enjoy the fresh air. If any of these latter things are possible, I highly recommend that become their new normal.

More tips for moving with cats and traveling with cats in a car

Dear Cathy,

My daughter has two dogs and two cats from an animal shelter. The two dogs are pugs and are about 9 years old. The cats are about 4 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

Dear Deb,

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.

Plus tips for traveling with dogs

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist, and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories, and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.

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Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff