Moving house can be stressful for everyone and your furry family members are not immune to all the uncertainty, the changes in routine and the upheaval.
For cats all that packing, the routine changes, and those strange new smells at your new house are reasons enough for stress. Combine that with often not getting fed on time or played with as usual and you have the ideal recipe for some stressed felines. To make the process as smooth as possible, there are a few simple things you can do to help them through the changes.
It may also be useful to board your cat for the actual moving stage. This avoids any risk of your cat going missing and allows you to get everything set up before adding your cat into the mix. This will also mean things are much calmer when you bring your cat into the new place.
Get the cat carrier out well in advance and put it out ready to go. Many cats will eventually start to explore this strange new space and may even start sleeping in there if you put a clean towel inside. Start feeding him closer and closer to the carrier and eventually inside. For more tips on how to acclimatize your cat to his carrier, read on here.
Make sure the carrier has a nice absorbent towel base, perhaps even a couple of towels, so that the top layer can be removed without having to fully open the door during transit.
Cats see the world differently to humans. They see the world in clouds of different scents. When we pack, move furniture and dump them into a new environment, their whole world changes and their senses are bombarded with new stimuli. Cats like routine, patterns and predictability, they don’t like change, so this is pretty traumatic for them. Get a Feliway diffuser prior to the move and plug it in somewhere your cat spends most of his time. Also plug one in at the new house (ideally 24 hours prior to putting your cat in) and set him up in just one small room of the house. Exposing him to the pheromones in a small space allows him to experience the changes in a slightly better frame of mind.
Before the move
- Make sure your cat’s microchip and pet tag is up to date with correct phone numbers.
- While packing, restrict your cat to one less chaotic room of the house (laundry, bathroom or bedroom).
- Try to keep your cat’s routine as similar as possible and schedule in some cuddles and playtime at the end of a long day
- If your pet is elderly, consult your vet about any health concerns that could impact travel.
- Avoid feeding your pet breakfast on the morning of the move.
During the move
- Make sure your cat stays in the carrier until you are safely enclosed in a room at the new place, do not open the carrier to ‘comfort’ him, as he will quite likely dash out and escape all the mayhem.
- Ensure your cat is not left in a hot car or out in the sun in the carrier. A car can heat up to dangerous temperatures within 10 minutes, even on a relatively mild day.
- Avoid putting food and water in the carrier, unless you are planning on being on the road for more than 12 hours.
- For lengthy journeys you will need a carrier big enough for a litter tray and food bowls that ideally that can be refilled from the outside and won’t spill during transport.
After the move
- Set you cat up in one room; the bathroom or laundry are ideal. Your cat can get used to this small space where he has food, water, litter and Feliway. Put some things in there that smell familiar and set it up like a nice cosy home.
- After a few days, allow your cat access to another room, and gradually allow him to explore his new environment.
- Do not let your cat outside for at least 2-4 weeks after a move. If you do decide to let him out, make sure the initial access is supervised and ideally just let him out into a fenced backyard. Cats are easily startled and will often dash out into another cats or dog’s territory or the road.
- Avoid letting your pet outside after dusk and before dawn to comply with Humane Societies recommendations to protect your cat and wildlife.
Cats are creatures of habit, so a move can be a little stressful for them. We hope that these tips have helped to make the whole process is as smooth as possible for you and your feline friend.