There’s no experience quite like the reverb of tires on the open road, window open, the asphalt air whipping across your face — and the sound of a yowling cat in your backseat.

It’s moving day. You are moving to North Carolina. You’ve spent the last month packing your life into cardboard. After finding an economical moving company and scheduling all the necessary post-arrival utility visits, you’re pretty proud of your organization skills. Today will be smooth-sailing, you think.

But it’s 5 a.m. and your cat has backed herself into the corner of your old bedroom, mad as hell that you took away her scratching post. All you want to do is get on the road — but all she wants is the couch to be where it was with her favorite blanket in tow. Moving to North Carolina with furry friends can be a difficult road. They’re incredibly in-tune with your habits, so when the furniture starts disappearing, they grow concerned. They smell the change. And it can be just as difficult for them as it is for you. Here are some things to consider to make their transition easier.

Find A Veterinarian Before You Move

During the planning portion of your relocation to North Carolina, add “find a veterinarian” to your list. Read reviews online, ask future coworkers about local animal hospitals, or even visit a vet when you’re in the area. If your trip requires an overnight stay, call hotels ahead of time to ensure they’re pet-friendly. For those who will kennel during the trip, keep the carrier in the living room until the day of the move. Let your pet become familiar with it — put their favorite blanket and toys inside and give them treats if they climb in. Take dogs that don’t usually ride in the car on short trips to pleasurable places like the park.

Moving Day Arrives

On move day, make the car feel like home. Recreate their sleeping space and have their favorite toys and treats easily accessible. Even bring along some water from home, since the taste can change regionally. Keep patterns by feeding them at the usual times, but be cautious about giving them a full meal. Dogs used to riding shotgun will probably do fine in this situation, but cats occasionally throw up from the anxiety of being in a strange, shifting place. Try giving them only small portions of food throughout the trip, and bring along a first aid kit and extra towels in case they have an accident.

Find Your Pets Safe Space In Your Vehicle

Also make sure the animal is in a safe area when starting your moving trip to North Carolina. Let dogs accustomed to sitting up front or in the back seat do exactly that without being surrounded by boxes — giving up additional packing space for this is worth it. Putting them in a kennel will only put them on edge. Since cats are rarely in the car, put them in a contained space in the back. Remember: Most cats, typically, find comfort in tight spaces they can curl up in. If kenneling, consider placing a blanket over top so the fast-moving scenery can’t frighten them. Create temporary ID tags with your future address, and keep all health certificates for your pet on-hand in case you get pulled over.

Frequent Checks

Stay in-tune with your pet throughout the trip. Check on them during food breaks and gas fill-ups. If the dog needs to go to the bathroom, pull over — and don’t forget to use their leash so they don’t run. Decide if you want to put a small litter box with your cat (this is totally dependent on your cat’s habits and if your trip includes an overnight stay somewhere). If the car feels too warm or too cold, adjust the temperature. Be conscious of the fact that you’re not traveling alone you are relocating to North Carolina with your pet.

We Finally Made It!

Upon arrival, make your pet your first priority — don’t leave them in the car while you unpack. Find a room to make their own. Put down their bed or favorite blanket along with some toys and other familiar items. Confine them to this space until most of the unpacking is complete. Check on them regularly to reassure them of your presence. After a day or so let them explore the rest of their new home in North Carolina. Place food bowls and litter boxes in similar areas as your last house. Stay calm as you continue to unpack — it will rub off on them.

With good planning, a level head and whole lot of love, moving to North Carolina with your pet doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be an adventure.

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