Cats are territorial by nature – they form strong attachments to their environment and don’t like to be taken out of their comfort zone. The upheaval associated with moving house can therefore be a stressful experience. Planning and preparation is the key to ensuring that moving house with your cat goes as smoothly as possible.
Preparing to Move
It is easy to get stressed about an upcoming move, but try to keep as calm as possible. Cats are intuitive, and will pick up on your emotions and stress levels as well as noticing the visual cues – the open boxes and belongings strewn on the floor ready to be packed. Follow these simple tips when getting ready to move:
- Leave your moving boxes out a few weeks prior to starting to pack to give your cat time to get used to them.
- If your cat is anxious whilst you’re packing confine him to another room away from the activity and noise.
- Throughout the packing period, continue with your cat’s usual daily routine – feeding, playtime, attention, brushing etc. to reinforce that ‘life is the same’ during this period of impending change.
Before the removal van arrives, place your cat in a bedroom that you have already cleared of boxes and furniture, ensuring that there is fresh water, food, a bed and a litter tray available. This will shield him from the activity and noise going on in the rest of the house. It’s also a smart idea to place a ‘Do Not Open – Cat Inside’ sign on the door, so that the removalists know not to open the door.
When all the other rooms have been packed and boxes are loaded onto the removal truck you can put your cat in his carrier and start to make the journey to your new home. Placing a familiar item such as a blanket in the carrier may help to comfort your cat whilst travelling. Cats should always travel in the car with you, never in the back of a removal truck.
If you have a particularly anxious cat you may choose to place them in a cattery overnight so that they avoid moving day altogether.
Settling Into Your New Home
Once you arrive at your new home, settle your cat into a bedroom, once again ensuring that there is fresh water, food, a bed and a litter tray available. A family member may like to sit in the room while your cat adjusts to this new space. By remaining calm you will signal to your cat that this is a safe environment. Keep the door shut and your cat confined until the removalists have unloaded your furniture, the bulk of the moving activity is over and the house is relatively quiet.
Once the removalists have left you can choose when to allow your cat to investigate the rest of the house. Before you do this, securely close any doors and windows, and block any other escape routes. Some cats are very relaxed about moving house; others will hide under a bed for days. How slowly or quickly you introduce your cat to its new home will depend on your cat and their personality. If you have a scaredy-cat who is timid or skittish then it’s best to let them explore one room at a time under your supervision. If your cat is brave and adventurous then you can let them explore and familiarise themselves with their new home more quickly.
To help your cat settle into its new home, keep up the familiar routines of feeding, playing, attention and grooming that were part of life in your previous home. Family members and familiar furniture will also help your cat to settle in.
Letting Your Cat Outside
If you have an outdoor cat, try to keep him indoors for 10-14 days to give him time to settle into his new home. When you first allow your cat outside, you may like to supervise to make sure he knows the way back home. You can also leave the door to the house open, so that your cat can run indoors if a sudden noise or other animals frighten him. If there wasn’t a cat in the house previously, neighbourhood cats may have claimed your garden for themselves, supervision will help prevent any territorial disputes.
It is also a good idea to ensure that your cat is micro-chipped and wearing a collar and tag just in case he decides to wander too far away from your new home when he is let outside to explore.
Have you moved house with your cat? What did you do to make the move easier for both of you?