There’s no doubt that moving house is extremely stressful, but have you ever thought about how it might affect your pets?
Cats bond strongly with their territory and can start to feel very vulnerable when away from their home. Taking this into account and planning ahead could help to minimise the stress felt by your cat when travelling or settling into a new house.
So, if you’re moving a cat to a new home and have concerns about how they’re going to cope, read through our guide to moving home with a cat. We’ll outline everything you need to know about moving with cats and how to settle a cat after moving house.
Take a look through our top tips for moving house with cats and ensure you’re properly prepared to keep them safe and stress-free throughout the entire moving house process.
Find out how to have a feline-friendly move…
Simply moving furniture around, redecorating or travelling can stress some cats because you’re changing the territory and routine they know so well. Thus, when moving house it can cause a lot of confusion and worry for your cat. So much so, in fact, that it could result in scratching, urine-spraying, meowing and other stress-related behaviours.
As a result, it is essential that you plan ahead and take precautions to keep them safe and as stress free as possible when moving home with a cat. In this guide we’ll outline all the tips and tricks to make moving a cat to a new house easier for both you and your terrific tabby.
The best way to make moving house with a cat as calm and safe as possible is to plan, plan and plan some more. So what can you do before moving house to keep your cat calm?
Pheromones – when cats feel secure, they release a pheromone which helps them identify home. Cats spread this pheromone around their home by rubbing their faces on things. You can purchase plug-in diffusers or sprays that infuse this pheromone into the air, helping your cat feel safer and more calm. Plug the diffuser in at least 24 hours before you start packing to ensure your cat is already calm prior to starting the move.
Maintain your routine – cats like routines and will generally know when food and rest times are. Maintaining this everyday routine is important, even when preparing to move, as it gives your cat a sense of normality and control when their whole environment is changing.
Allocate a room – before you start packing, you should allocate a specific room for your cat to stay in while you prepare for the move. Slowly move your cat’s food, water, bedding, toys and litter tray into the room so that your cat can get accustomed to it before your move date. This way, you can keep your cat away from all the chaos and leave them as undisturbed as possible.
Put out your cat’s crate – If you only get the cat box out just before a journey, e.g. to go to the cattery or vets, your cat will likely associate it with being constrained. However, having it open and in the house for a few weeks ahead of your travel will help your cat get used to it. You could even try putting treats or toys in the crate to give your cat a more positive view of it before the move.
Register with a local vet – Just before you move, or as soon as possible after, you should register your cat with a local vet. In an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by lots of strangers, open doors and heavy items being moved, it’s easy for your cat to get in an accident. So, it’s essential that you know where to go if there is an emergency.
Update microchip details – similarly, with so many open doors and all the disruption of moving day, it can be easy for cats to get outside and go missing. Ensure your cat’s microchip details are up-to-date with your new address. You should also make a new tag for your cat’s collar so people can easily contact you if the worst happens. You’ll need to find out which microchip database your cat’s registered to e.g. Petlog or Identibase.
Congratulations! You’ve completed the process of buying a new house and are finally moving in. Unfortunately for you, though, you’re moving home with a cat, which means this part could still be a little stressful.
But, don’t worry! Follow these simple steps to make moving day with cats run as smooth as possible:
Consider leaving your cat with someone – it may not be possible, but if you can consider leaving your cat with friends or family, or even at a cattery. Bringing your cat into your new home later, when everyone is more settled, will help show your cat that it is somewhere to relax, not be stressed. Cats also get their emotional cues from you, so it’s a great way to tell them that your new home is a safe place.
Allocate a room – as with before you move house with a cat, make sure you allocate a ‘safe’ area at your new home too. Again, this gives them a safe and comfortable place to relax while you unpack and move everything in. This will also mean that you don’t feel the need to constantly be checking on your cat.
Travelling – many cats hate travelling, but there are a few things you can do to make it more comfortable for them. Ensure you have a safe, enclosed carrier and never let them roam the car freely. Secure the carrier by wedging it in, or use the seat belts to strap it down. It’s also a good idea to keep reassuring your cat throughout the entire journey. Never leave your cat in the car and make sure they have regular access to water.
Unpack your cat’s belongings first – when you arrive at your new property, unpack your cat’s belongings first while they’re still in their carrier. It will be reassuring for your cat to be welcomed by their home items. Ideally, these should be placed in the cat’s allocated ‘safe’ room.
So, you may think the worst part of moving a cat to a new home is the travelling, but once in your new house, getting them settled can also be a challenge.
Let’s find out how you can help your cat settle into its new home:
Scent-swapping – given that scent is a key part of the way cats identify an area as safe, bringing their scent into the new house will help them settle. Make sure to bring in blankets and cushions that smell like home.
Gradually expand the territory – having access to a lot of brand new space could be stressful for a cat. Thus, access to the new home should be done in small increments, at your cat’s own pace. As you let them out of their safe room to explore more of the house, make sure all other doors and windows are closed – they won’t be ready for the outdoors just yet.
Allow for accidents – as we’ve learned, moving home with cats is stressful, and even the most well-behaved cats may have a toilet accident or two as they get used to their new environment and routine. It’s important to be patient with your cat, don’t tell them off, and show them what you expect them to do in future.
Your cat should feel relaxed and secure in their new home before venturing into the great outdoors. It’s quite common for cats to go missing shortly after moving house because owners let their cats go outside far too soon.
Many cats have a fairly strong desire to go back to their old houses and may get lost trying to find their way back. Therefore, cats should be kept indoors for at least three weeks after moving to allow them to get used to their new house and see it as a secure place that they want to return to.
When you do come to let your cat outside, do the following to encourage them to come back:
Moving home with a cat doesn’t have to be difficult and stressful. As long as you follow the steps above, your feline friend should remain calm and quickly adjust to their new home.
We understand that there’s a lot to think about when moving home, and having a cat can make this already endless list even longer. But, with our top tips for moving a cat to a new house, you should have no problem making sure everything runs smoothly.
If you’re more of a dog person, go ahead and check out our guide to moving house with a dog.
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