Moving an Older Cat

Carissa MaleckiCarissa Malecki Buffalo / BaltimoreMember Posts: 7,383
edited 18 August, 2006 in Cats & Travel
Hi everyone, I may be getting a new web design job in Buffalo, NY to finally live with my fiance. I have lived in the Baltimore, MD area all my life, and Merlin was adopted from Animal Rescue in 1996 for my 13th birthday. Now he is nearing 10 years old next month - and I'm at a crossroads. He's always lived in this house, and the last time he was at a kennel was in 2001 when we went to Europe for 2 weeks. He lived with our collie Quest all his life, since Quest was here before him. But Quest passed away in October, so Merlin has been the only animal in the house for a while. I feel like I would miss him very much, but I am really unsure of what I should do. I have been his caretaker for his entire life. He's almost 10 and I dunno if that is too old/too much trauma for him. Buffalo is about a 6.5 hour car ride, then the house has a dog - Kolbe, a young 40 pound mixed breed. Is this all a recipe for disaster? If I ultimately decided to make the move with him, what can I do to make this huge transition less stressful? Is this too risky and should I just leave him here with my parents?? Any advice is appreciated.

Comments

  • Beastie_and_the_BoysBeastie_and_the_Boys Marquette, MI / ChicagoMember Posts: 17,806 ✭✭✭
    edited 11 June, 2006
    Hi Merlin! As long as you don't suffer from any serious health issues, and new dog isn't aggressive toward cats, then I think you should be fine moving. I'm 12 1/2 and my sister is 12 this month, and we've moved quite a few times with no problems. You probably want to go to the vet for a checkup if you haven't recently and make sure you're in good health. If you don't ride in the car much, your human might want to take you for some rides just to help you get used to it. Since you've lived with a dog before, I doubt you'll have a lot of trouble adapting to life with the new one, assuming the new dog is nice to you. Has he/she lived with cats before?
  • Carissa MaleckiCarissa Malecki Buffalo / BaltimoreMember Posts: 7,383
    edited 11 June, 2006
    Hi Arthur, thanks for your advice. Kolbe was a shelter dog we picked up in March. We do not know if she previously lived with cats. When we take her on walks, we often come across cats hanging out on front porch steps. She usually approaches with a lot of curiosity, but does not pull or try to chase after the cat, but just sort of calmly leans her head forward and sniffs, but shows no agression. My fiance's brother is renting out the lower unit of his house to three girls who have a chihuahua, and Kolbe is very gentle and affectionate with it. I know it's not a cat and all, but I thought I'd just throw that in there since it's a similar size...the only thing she's shown interest in are the squirrels outside...but she doesn't really chase them, more just alertly watches them climb the tree. And yeah, Merlin screams bloody murder in the car, so maybe after work a few days a week I will start taking him on short 10 minute rides around the neighborhood. We have a mobile vet that comes to our house, so I will give him a call to see if he can give Merlin a check-up cause I know it's been a while...I didn't even think of that until you mentioned it actually! Good idea, thank you.
  • Beastie_and_the_BoysBeastie_and_the_Boys Marquette, MI / ChicagoMember Posts: 17,806 ✭✭✭
    edited 12 June, 2006
    I have to admit, I'm not big on riding in the car, either. But sometimes the long trips are ok, I will wear myself out after a while from all the whining and crying (and whining and crying and whining and crying) and then I'm calm. The vet might be able to give you some ideas about how to relax on the trip. When are you going to move?
  • Carissa MaleckiCarissa Malecki Buffalo / BaltimoreMember Posts: 7,383
    edited 12 June, 2006
    It may possibly be around the beginning of July or mid-July. I am also figuring he will probably wear himself out after 45 minutes or so, and then be (generally) quiet for the rest of the ride... In the meantime, I'm going to ask my fiance to take Kolbe over to his uncle's house because he has a few cats - this way we can be more sure of her interaction with them.
  • Kris PotterKris Potter Dallas SuburbMember Posts: 1,131
    edited 12 June, 2006
    In 1989 I was 3 and we took a 12 hour car ride to move to Phoenix. We lived in a house with lots of other animals so Mommy just kept me in a private bedroom until we got our own place to live. That worked out okay. In 2000 Nikki cat and I moved from Phoenix to Dallas. It took us 2 days and an overnight stay in a hotel room. I was 14 at the time and Nikki was 6. I cried for the first half hour and then settled down. I didn't eat or drink much for 2 days but that's pretty normal for a travelling cat. I suffered no ill health effects. Nikki was tougher. The vet gave her some pills to calm her down but she still cried off and on the entire trip. Hope that helps.
  • RS LillyRS Lilly GlendaleMember Posts: 19
    edited 13 June, 2006
    Hi. My mom's other cat (Miss Kitty) moved when she was about your age. She HATED the car part, but liked snuggling at night and made it through just fine. I know this may sound weird, but someone told Mom to put a little butter on the bottom of Miss Kitty's feet when she got to the new house. They said that doing that would help her know she was home. Mom did it and it seemed to work. At least Miss Kitty really liked the butter!
  • Jessica TeasdaleJessica Teasdale Member Posts: 13
    edited 13 June, 2006
    I'll be moving at the end of the summer too, not just to a new home, but with a new kitten! I have always lived in a house with lots of other animals and plenty of barn cats hanging around outside, so just one kitten is sure to be much quieter. Give this new dog a fair shot and make sure you have a slow introduction phase where your mum gives you a safe place to be just yours while you get used to each other. Don't worry about being too old. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but cats are smarter than that.
  • Carissa MaleckiCarissa Malecki Buffalo / BaltimoreMember Posts: 7,383
    edited 13 June, 2006
    Good idea, I think the bedroom will be a good place where we can shut the door and he can be separated from the dog for a while until they get totally used to each other. He also does not have any health problems, and hasn't in the past, so hopefully the hardest part of the move will only be him screaming in the car. PS - and oh yes you CAN teach an old dog new tricks ;-)
  • Judy AdamsJudy Adams WalworthMember Posts: 3
    edited 3 August, 2006
    I was moved at age 12 from being a full time outside country cat, to a tiny condo in the city of Chicago. You can read my story on my page. I stayed inside for the first 6 months in the city. It was torture, I had to use a litter box and hated every second of it. Now that spring is here, I go outside with mom to hang around the deck and roll in the grass once in a while, and use the dirt god gave me for my needs. I am actually in better shape now than I was in the country, except for weepy eyes which is a chronic problem no matter where I live. Tiger (gone for 19 years) moved to 4 different locations from age 6 months to 5 years old. One trip was overseas to Germany where he lived in the country for 2 years, and did just fine. He then moved back to the US. It is quite a story, he was a good traveler. We will post his history on my account when we find the old photos of him sitting on the seat of a 747. He sat on mom's lap the whole way there. On the way back he rode in the carrier underneath. Sadly, he was euthanized at age 8 due to kidney failure. Mom still misses Tiger the most.
  • Donna LenzDonna Lenz BethelMember Posts: 4,600 ✭✭✭
    edited 18 June, 2006
    meows merlin i would suggest you cat test the doggy - but he sounds ok. the local shelter can help. many dogs love cats - gyps and amber love us all. gyps even kisses the hammy - cept last time he bit her nose - mol - now he makes her nervous. your mom can give you some rescue remedy in your water the day of the move. it will relax you a lot, and it's natural. leaving you with the granparents will break your heart. mom left nikki with her parents when they got married - no pets allowed in the apartment. nikkie was hearbroken, 2 weeks later mom was crying to the landlord, and he let her bring her home. mom has to type with one hand cause i refuse to move on her lap, and if she does, i will fall on my head.
  • Carissa MaleckiCarissa Malecki Buffalo / BaltimoreMember Posts: 7,383
    edited 19 June, 2006
    Still reading all of your advice, thank you!! I will hear about this job tomorrow or Wednesday...crossing my fingers.
  • Judy AdamsJudy Adams WalworthMember Posts: 3
    edited 3 August, 2006
    By mom: If this helps any, our Sis is over 10 and has never been around dogs before, nor had she ever left our Wisconsin country house she grew up in. We moved her to the city of Chicago, with dogs and noise all around. At first she was stressed, inside all the time to get her used to being here. I would bring her to the house on weekends - she complained the whole way there and back. I couldn't decide if it was worse to leave her here or travel with her. I decided to forego the visits and get her used to the city condo full time. After 8 months she seems much happier here with us now, than she ever did at the house or with the kids who are still there. She settled into the new neighborhood and gets along fine with the dog next door. Every cat I ever had seemed to be much happier with us as her family than the place where she lived.
  • Regan AveryRegan Avery OccoquanMember Posts: 12
    edited 4 August, 2006
    So, Merlin, what happened? You can\'t keep us in suspense! I\'m really glad I got to read all the responses, cause I\'m an older diva (I think I\'m about 13 -- I\'m a rescue, so the folks with opposable thumbs aren\'t sure) who\'s set in her ways, and my mom\'s taking me in the car with her from Texas to Virginia. For those of you who have done the overnight in a hotel, 1) Did you stay in a chain and what was your experience? 2) Was the second morning (and the third...) as bad as the one before? Mom\'s considering doing a half a dozen short trips instead of three long days so there will be more snuggle (and litter box and treat) time in the hotel, but I howl when I get in the car now to make sure all the passersby know I\'m trapped in there with someone who\'s actively disemboweling me, so she\'s trying to weigh the pros and cons. What do you guys think?
  • Carissa MaleckiCarissa Malecki Buffalo / BaltimoreMember Posts: 7,383
    edited 7 August, 2006
    I'm back! We finally moved up yesterday (Sunday). OK...so he did better in the car than I thought. He cried for the first hour and a half regularly, then began to quiet down. I had his crate in the passenger seat and I covered it with a towel so he could not see out, per recommendation of the vet who gave him a rabies shot the night before. I kept my right hand in the cage for the majority of the trip and he leaned his head on it a lot. If we were on a poorly-paved interstate (hey western Pennsylvania you've got some re-paving to do!) he would start crying a little. He didn't throw up the entire way until we were about 20 minutes from our destination. Yesterday and all night long he stayed under the living room couch, which had actually come from my parents' house a few weeks prior. He was horrified of this new place and slept under the sofa all night (which is very unlike him). So today, I brought his pan, food and water into the bedroom and closed the door. He did eat and drank some water, and also used his pan. But for the most part he is staying under the bed. I work from home so I will be here with him during the day. I feel so bad. What can I do to help make him more comfortable? Kolbe the dog is living downstairs in his brother's apartment for the week so Merlin is up here without any other animals for now. I also sprayed some furniture with that Feliway spray. What else can I do to make him feel better? I feel so guilty to see him this way...
  • Regan AveryRegan Avery OccoquanMember Posts: 12
    edited 11 August, 2006
    Yaaaay, Merlin! Congratulations. Now you've just got to show that dog who's boss. I'm sure you'll start settling in to that new place any day. Course, I hid under the bed at my last new place for two months, so look who's talking. :) Anybody got any suggestions for me on how my mom should handle our trip? I'm gonna cut-and-pawste the relevant bits again so no kindly, helpful kitties have to scroll back:     For those of you who have done the overnight in a hotel,     1) Did you stay in a chain and what was your experience?     2) Was the second morning (and the third...) as bad as the one before?
  • Beastie_and_the_BoysBeastie_and_the_Boys Marquette, MI / ChicagoMember Posts: 17,806 ✭✭✭
    edited 12 August, 2006
    Merlin, I read your post and I was hoping that you just needed a little time to check out and adjust to your new surroundings. How are you doing now? Any updates?? *purrs*
  • Amy BrownAmy Brown EverettMember Posts: 50
    edited 13 August, 2006
    My Mom says: "When was a senior in high school my family moved to Barrow, Alaska. My Siamese cat was 10 at the time and *hated* to travel. As we knew she'd have to be flown up to join us 2 weeks after we settled in to our new home, my Mom took her to the vet to get some tranquilizers for her. It was a harrowing trip for her (not only did the friends that dropped her off at the airport NOT give her the tranquilizers, but she was in the hold with a loud Doberman that barked the whole way, and the plane ended up taking an extra side trip to Salt Lake City instead of coming straight up to Alaska, adding several hours to her trip!) but when we introduced her to the new home she bounced back amazingly well. For the first two days we just left her carrier in the living room and let her use it as a safe spot to come back to when she was done exploring, and after that time she was just fine. Something I did with my Keiko when we moved to our new apartment was to wear a big soft oversized sweatshirt for a while until it had my scent on it, and wore that as I carried Keiko to the new place. Then when I took her into the bathroom with her bed, food and litterbox to keep her safe while we moved furniture, I simply took off the shirt and tucked it into her bed with her. It was warm, comfy and most importantly still smelled like me, so she didn't get distressed - she had familiar smells with her whether I was in the room or not. I learned that trick when I was still nursing my son, and he used to have trouble sleeping when we visited my folks - I'd just tuck one of my sweatshirts in with him in the port-a-crib and he'd settle in just fine. I also highly recommend Feliway spray for the inside of the carrier. It's lovely stuff and really works well! Hope this helps you - have a very safe trip one and all!"
  • Amy BrownAmy Brown EverettMember Posts: 50
    edited 13 August, 2006
    Whoops! Looks like Mom didn't read all the posts before replying - silly Mom! Oh well - maybe it will help another too. We're happy to hear you made it safely! Purrs & Best Fishes, Keiko! :)
  • Cheryl AyerCheryl Ayer RockportMember Posts: 330
    edited 13 August, 2006
    Congrats on surviving your move! It's only right to scream and cry in the car (seriously! what do they expect?! the upheaval!), and then take your time adjusting to the new place. You sound like a very normal kitty. Just keep letting everybodyknow what they're doing wrong, so then they can get it right. You're lucky to have such a super-caring mom, and before you take TOO long to adjust, think about the alternative if she felt she couldn't move you....Purrs to you both!
  • Roger BuchananRoger Buchanan PittsburghMember Posts: 12,565
    edited 14 August, 2006
    Hey, I moved to Pittsburgh from San Diego. When I got here, I hid for days! But the food kept disapearing, so they knew I was eating. Eventually I needed petting so I came out. It takes time to adjust.
  • Carissa MaleckiCarissa Malecki Buffalo / BaltimoreMember Posts: 7,383
    edited 18 August, 2006
    Thanks for all of your advice and comforting words. OK so now it's week 2. A few days ago we brought Kolbe upstairs to introduce them. Kolbe just sits and looks at Merlin and wags her tail, meanwhile Merlin looks at Kolbe, growling this very satanic-growl, and hissing (which he never does really). Kolbe leaned in a little to get a closer look and Merlin whacked her one in the face, hehe. So Merlin's been mostly staying in the bedroom again and using under the bed as his "retreat" from Kolbe even though I feel there is a .05% chance Kolbe would do anything to Merlin. If Kolbe is asleep, Merlin will venture out into the other rooms, but watches her very carefully as he saunters by. He's still eating regularly. Amazingly Kolbe has not yet touched his food, water, OR his litter pan. I will be seriously impressed if she can keep up this pattern. The night before last Merlin was waiting for us on the apartment steps landing (we live in a 3-unit house...future bro-in-law and his g/f live on the 2nd floor and we live in the attic). We had been enjoying a drink on the front porch with them and the dogs. We opened the door and Kolbe started up the stairs. They saw each other and Merlin BOLTED. Kolbe RAN after her until I yelled KOLBE STOP. She stopped in her tracks and stayed, but Merlin ran into the bedroom under the bed. I don't think Kolbe has any ill intent, she was just chasing him because he ran. But I'm hoping that wasn't a step backwards. Today Merlin ventured out into the living room and walked by Kolbe and he did not growl at her, for the first time. If she gets up and looks over at him he gets a little nervous and retreats. I don't know how to show him that Kolbe won't hurt him. She has overall been doing a very good job of just sitting still and observing the cat. She won't get up to "inspect" him if I tell her "stay". She isn't giving off any bad signals like growling or barking or raising her hackles. Like I mentioned before, Merlin lived with my collie Quest until he died last October. So I thought Merlin would be less hostile since he had lived with a dog his whole life. Not to mention that Kolbe is half the size Quest was. I am going to do some more research on semi-peaceful cat/dog co-existence...I feel bad when I see Merlin growling and hissing and running under the bed. I know this will take time and it's only been a few days....hopefully things will get better.
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