There always seem to be a million and one things to think about when it comes to removals. As well as the actual physical process of packing and moving furniture into and out of the van, you have to remember to cancel utilities, phone in with meter readings, notify insurance companies, banks and any other relevant financial organisations. When there are animals involved, the situation can become even more complicated.
Before the Move
It is absolutely vital to find a removal company that will transport animals – unless you are fortunate enough to have a large car that will fit them in, along with the vacuum cleaner, mop and bucket, flasks, food and family that all have to be ready to hand!
Once you have secured the services of a reliable and pet-friendly removal company, it is important to plan for the actual moving day. Animals are creatures of habit and they will realise that change is in the air as soon as you start packing the boxes. Keep to their normal routine as far as possible in the days leading up to the removal, especially when it comes to having familiar items such as beds and toys around.
If at all possible, clear one room, such as a bedroom, of furniture the night before, so that you can keep your pets in there safely during the actual van loading activities.
The Removal Day
It is always best to take your dog out for the normal morning walk and feed it with its normal morning food prior to the move, as it will be a few hours before the journey to your new home starts. The safest thing to do then is to shut your dog into a room that has been emptied of furniture, with its bed, water bowl and any favourite toys.
Stick a large “Dog inside – do not enter” sign on the door to avoid the removal men accidentally going into the room. If you can, assign a family member – perhaps a child – to go into the room from time to time and reassure the dog. Remember to keep the crate or container handy, together with dog food for when you arrive at your new house.
When it is getting close to the time of actually moving, take the dog out for another walk before loading it into the vehicle. For a large dog, if it is travelling in the back of the van, the only safe way of transporting it is in a large crate. If the journey is going to be longer than an hour or so, you will need to arrange a “comfort break” with the removals company to allow the dog to stretch its legs.
It is always best not to feed an animal immediately before a journey. Small dogs can travel in a carrier on the owner’s lap, in the cab of the van, so they can be reassured during the journey. http://www.bluecross.org.uk/1958-2793/moving-house-and-travelling-with-dogs.html gives further tips on moving house with a dog.
Cats, in my experience, have a sixth sense when it comes to being shut up in a cat basket, so that they will often have disappeared when it comes to the moment of taking them to the vet – or moving house! In the case of a cat, it is probably safest to keep them in the house for a couple of days prior to the actual move, by locking the cat flap and resorting to the litter tray.
Cats are also past masters at escaping, so it is vital that they are secured in a room, then in the cat basket. Long journeys can traumatise any animal, but especially cats, so it may be best to seek advice from your vet to see if there is anything they can be given to help keep them calm. Most cats won’t eat if they are stressed, but will need access to water.
Again, if you are fortunate, you will be able to travel in the cab of the van with the cat, securely in its carrier, on your knee.
The same process happens in reverse when you arrive at your new home. At all costs, keep the cat securely in its basket until you can put it into a room where it will not be disturbed. It is safest to keep the cat indoors for at least a few days, to familiarise it with the smell of its new home. Take your dog for another short walk, then shut it into a room. Once the van has been unloaded and the doors and windows safely shut, you can start accustoming both you and your pets to the new house.
Photjanard Chantamethee Gregoriou is married to the owner of About This Van, a North London based removals company and, with her accountancy background, helps organise the administration for the business. www.AboutThisVan.co.uk/london-removals operates in and around London and has a common-sense approach to moving pets, transporting cats, dogs or similar sized pets in the cab, providing that they’re in a cage.
She has two young children, who occupy much of the rest of her time, but is also a Buddhist and believes in helping people who cannot help themselves.