Moving Madness – How NOT to move your pets

Moving Madness is an ongoing series that features the craziest moments our writers and readers have experienced during a move. Have an anecdote that you want to share? We want to hear it! Contact us at

When my husband and I adopted two cats five years ago, we thought we were doing the responsible pet-owner thing. We really did, I promise.

We decided to adopt two kittens into our family because we figured they would be easier than a Featured imagedog. We knew with our lifestyle of moving and traveling, it just wouldn’t be fair to bring a dog into our family. Cats are resilient. They are independent. They don’t mind being left alone when you are gone, but are usually happy to see you when you return.

And, for the most part, our little felines, Rambo and Dixie, fit right into our moving lifestyle. But, we quickly realized that being pet owners who moved fairly regularly wouldn’t be all good times and sunshine.

As we prepared for our very first move with our cats, we tried to figure out the best way to move them from our home in Tennessee to our new home in Canada. We hoped to do the drive in three days with our SUV packed to the brim with luggage and items that the movers wouldn’t take. We heard from several people that cats usually travel well if you let them roam freely in your car and provide a litter box somewhere in the vehicle for them to do their business. So I decided to take one of our cats on a short test-drive in our car (which we had just purchased, by the way), to the gas station a few miles down the road. Rambo sat nervously in my lap as I put the car in reverse and started to back out. We hadn’t even made it out of our neighborhood before our lovely cat decided to mark his territory all over me and our new leather seats. Well, time to change the game plan.

My husband went on to rig up what only can be described as a custom-made cat condo consisting of a cage and enclosed litter box that were connected via a wooden cut-out (only the best for our cats). The cats could huddle together, be enclosed and take care of their business all a safe distance from our leather seats.

Featured imageOn moving day, we loaded the cat palace into the back of our SUV and set off. For the next several days, anytime we loaded in the car and started to drive, our cats began to growl in a low, deep, loud cry. It sounded so pitiful. This would go on until they gave up or passed out from exhaustion.

The real kicker was each time we would stop at a motel for the night. My husband would get the luggage cart and we would move the cats’ cage onto the cart and make the embarrassing trek up to our room. I can’t even tell you how many strange looks we got from fellow hotel occupants. You know they had to be thinking “Can those people not vacation without their cats? Really?” And all we wanted to do was scream “WE ARE MOVING AND IT IS REALLY, REALLY HARD!”

Since that first move, we’ve had several more moves with them. During a move last year, one of our cats slipped out of our hotel room unbeknownst to us. Now you have to understand, we had added our first child to the mix by that point and our cats had gone down a few notches on the priority list. Sorry, but it’s true. We didn’t even realize the little fur ball was missing until we left to check out the hotel pool. I opened the door to see a woman standing in the hall and all she said was, “Does this belong to you?” and blankly pointed to her son who was holding our cat. Why yes, yes that does. Oops.

Just last Christmas, we were living in a hotel before we found a home in Colorado. My husband went to load our cats in the car from our hotel and one of the cats escaped… again (I promise, they had a good life with us. I don’t know why they were always looking for a jailbreak.) My sweet, annoyed husband proceeded to spend almost an hour trying to fish our cat out of the thorny bushes in front of Featured imagethe hotel. And let’s just say, we finally agreed that our cats just didn’t have the moving gene like we did.

Now, our two cats have retired from the moving life and spend their time in pet paradise at my in-laws farm. And while we miss them, we don’t miss the extra rent we usually had to pay because of them, and the extra attention we had to give them each time we moved to make sure they didn’t pee in a suitcase or use a wall as a scratching post.

But, many of you out there are much better than we are and move with your pets all the time. So, be sure to check out the blog on Thursday. We will share expert advice on the best ways to move your pets with ease and comfort. Believe me, I’ll be taking notes.

-by Emily Robertson

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