Animal house: when pets and property collide

Published on

Animal support organisations reckon that in 2008 there were around 18 million pet-owning households in the UK, containing 27 million animals - more than half the total population.

Of these, 5.7 million households have dogs, while 4.8 million have cats. After this, the figures are much lower for rabbits, indoor birds, hamsters, gerbils etc. Yet there are an estimated 100,000 households in the UK with snakes as pets!

Because moving home, buying, selling and renting property can be significantly more complex when cats and dogs are involved, it’s worth bearing in mind some of the lessons that pet owners have learnt through experience.

Moving home

Because dogs are attached to their owners, whereas cats are more attached to their environment, moving with dogs is reckoned to be a much easier business. Yet even with dogs, there are a series of steps that can make the process easier.

You should prepare a new tag with your name (not the dog’s), your address and phone details, and update your Petlog registration details (call 0870 606 6751). During the move, you could get some DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) that produces a calming scent, like the smell of a mother with her puppies.

Don’t feed your dog for 12 hours before a long car journey, or get some anti-sickness pills from your vet. Keep some unwashed bedding materials to make your dog feel at home.

Once at the new property, introduce your dog to neighbours, the postman and other regular visitors as soon as possible. Then make sure your boundary fencing is secure, high enough and free of holes before letting your dog into the garden.

With cats, the process is more involved. Consider leaving your cat in a cattery during the move (if practicable), to avoid the stress of a disturbed environment. Otherwise, leave your carrier around your home for a few weeks prior to the move, so your cat becomes familiar with it. Try to keep your cat away from the removals process.

Offer water and the use of a litter tray during a long journey, and consider giving your cat a pheromone such as Feliway. Don’t put your cat in the removals van or in the boot of your car.

Once at your new property, set up a room with water, food, a litter tray and familiar bedding. Some cats may take several days to become confident enough in their new surroundings to begin exploring outside this room, so be patient. This is particularly true for cats (and indeed dogs) moving from the countryside to an urban environment, which they may find alien and disturbing.

To help your cat to acclimatise to their new surroundings, let them rub themselves over furniture and walls, doors etc. You can assist this process by taking a soft cloth and rubbing it on their head, then rubbing it at cat level, around your home.

Another trick is to put butter on their paws. Your cat will lick off the butter, and then spread a thin layer of their saliva around the property, making them feel more at home.

Once you’re ready to let your cat outside, withhold food for 12 hours, so that they are hungry and likely to return to be fed.

For more information on moving with animals, contact Dogs Trust,, tel: 020 7837 0006 or Feline Advisory Bureau,, 0870 742 2278.

Selling your property

Just as it can be hard to appreciate the merits of other people’s children, home buyers can seldom see the positive side of other people’s animals when they look round a property, even when they are animal lovers themselves.

They are more likely to see the stained carpets, the gnawed furniture and curtains, the mess in the garden and smell the distinctive cat pee in the hallway.

So the best advice for sellers is to remove all evidence of these things as far as possible, even replacing carpets and other flooring if necessary. Then arrange for your pet to be out of the house during viewings.

Otherwise you may end up as one seller did: her agent and a prospective buyer were cornered in a bedroom by a snarling cat! Animals sometimes resent strangers; that impression is one to avoid.

If you’re buying a property, search on using keywords such as gardens, stables, aviaries etc to find somewhere with appropriate facilities.

Renting a property

Although this can be a struggle, since many landlords have a ‘no pets’ policy, there is certainly a large market for tenants with pets. It’s just a matter of finding a tolerant landlord in the right area. Start by searching on using the search term ‘pets’.

You can help to increase your chances of success in various ways. These issues principally apply to dog owners.

You need to present yourself as a responsible pet owner, who will ensure that their animal is safe, who will pick up its mess and be considerate to neighbours.

It’s probably not worth trying to persuade a large property agency to change its ‘no pets’ policy, but individual landlords and small communities (especially if they already allow some pets) may be easier. Some associations will allow smaller dogs, weighing less than 20 pounds for example.

Start to gather proof that you are a responsible pet owner, such as a letter of reference from your current or previous landlord, written proof that your dog has completed a training class and a letter from your vet confirming that your pet has been spayed or neutered.

Point out that you will be likely to stay for longer than other tenants. And be prepared to pay a little extra in a security deposit to cover any damages that your pet might cause to the property.

Finally, don’t sign a tenancy agreement and then sneak a pet in. This just makes it harder for other people to have pets and may subject you to eviction or legal action.

Cool pet furniture

Moving home is an opportunity to invest in new furniture, both for you and your pet. What about a stylish Alessi dog bowl for £45, or a chic DenHaus – Zen Designer Pet Crate in Black, from around £350? For the seriously fashion conscious, how about the Magis Dog House in Orange, costing a mere £700? See for more details.

This article originally appeared on and can be viewed here.