Renovating and Moving with 4-Legged Children

Those of you who know me, know that I’m a devoted mom (slave) to a cat and a dog. They are my 4-legged children as I don’t have any 2-legged ones!

My friend Owen ( has, on more than one occasion, said “the only good cat is a dead cat”, and I’ve responded ‘Shhhh! She’ll hear you, and you’ll be sorry!”

I do consider our pets in every renovation step and move we undertake. Certainly, I’ve been criticized of thinking too hard about what they might or might not be capable of feeling or experiencing, but hey, if I die and someone points out that one of my faults was that I over-babied my pets, I’ll be okay with it.

With our next move coming up in less than a month (I should be packing instead of blogging) I’ve already kicked it into high gear thinking about how to make the move as smooth as possible for everyone – including our pets.

Brandie, our dog, is a very gentle spirit. She’s happy, a bit bossy, quite jealous and unfortunately has Addison’s disease. Addison’s (in a nutshell) makes it hard for her to cope with stress .

Brandie old backyard

Brandie old backyard

Avi, our kitty, is a real princess. She’s a cat with attitude even though she is tiny! Despite that attitude, she is one of the most loving cats I’ve ever known. Recently, due to the evil aging process, she’s developed early-stage kidney disease and a couple of other issues. Normally, she’s my healthy girl! I seldom have to consider her special needs as we make changes, she’s normally very adapting.

Cat with attitude

Cat with attitude in dog’s dish!

With both girls needing a bit more care this time around, I’m even more aware of taking the right steps with the upcoming move. In fact, The Renovator and I had a bit of a ‘tiff’ about it last night because I have, once again, been criticized for over thinking their needs. *sigh*

During renovations, the biggest issues for them, in my experience, have been: changing flooring (think about it – that’s the one thing they are closer to than anything else!), changing where we sleep (they need to know where we are), moving their food or supplies and changing the access routes to areas they frequent. When you’re a renovator, change is constant. You have to change the flooring! Sometimes, the hallway they are used to using, needs to be blocked off for a few days for tiling and grouting. These things are part of the renovating gig.

So, how do The Renovator and I manage it? Well, you guessed it, it mostly falls to me. 🙂

First, I make sure that if they are on medications or supplements, they stay on these regularly. Sure, I’ve fed them an hour or two late, but I always make sure they get their meds. Second, I change as few things as possible. When we were working on the master bedroom, we moved into the spare room. Much smaller, but I kept Brandie’s bed at the foot of our bed. Different room, but same habit. Third, I do my best to introduce the change with play. For Brandie, I’ll wrestle with her, rub her belly and whatever it takes to get her involved in a new change. For Avi, it’s a bit harder, but I’ll still play games like a trail of cat treats (when Brandie is outside of course!) to the new location of the food dish. Fourth, I do my best to not make a big deal out of the change. Once I’ve introduced it, I don’t keep showing it to them (unless they’re having problems adjusting of course – and let me tell you, The Renovator would say I DO make a big deal out of the changes because I keep talking about them to HIM! The point is, I don’t keep making them an issue to the girls, ahem, the pets). Fifth, I have a wonderful product called Back Flower Remedies Walnut Tincture. I put this in their water 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after a change and it seems to help even the bumps out a little. One of Brandie’s old Dr’s told me about this and I’m so glad she did. Given that we’re almost always renovating, the walnut is a constant in their water supply.

Some folks try the Bach Flower Rescue remedy with their pets. I’m going to use this on Avi when we move, but for Brandie, it really doesn’t do a darn thing. I’ve got it in a cream and apply it to their ears.

Moving, of course, is a bit more problematic. Nothing like changing absolutely everything! My strategy this time around is to take them at the last minute. There will be no furniture here and they will be stressed, but I look at it from this perspective – if they are in a house they know and they are with The Renovator and I, that’s got to be easier than going to a house they don’t know (even if our stuff is there) and having us leave them for a few hours to come back and clean this house. Thus my strategy.

Ultimately, whether you’re renovating or moving, chat to your vet. That’s why I use these techniques with our girls – they’ve been incredibly helpful and I’ve yet to meet a vet who isn’t compassionate to pets dealing with change. Find out what’s right for your specific situation and your 4-legged children. And if you start being criticized for babying your pets, let me know – we’ll start a therapy group together! 😉

And that’s why I love being The Renovator’s Wife.


Ronda Payne

A writer since she first held a pen, Ronda Payne – aka: the Girl with a Pen, is passionate about words. In 2007, she kissed ‘real jobs’ goodbye and began her true career as a copywriter, non-fiction freelance writer (magazines and other periodicals) and creative writer.

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