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Moving with Cats

By Lea Jaratz

cat-next-to-moving-box

You’ve found a great new place to live but how do you move with a cat? Some cats just go with the flow, but many cats don’t handle the transition well. At all. If you’re moving with a cat to a new house, don’t stress. We have tips to help you and your kitty get settled in together.

Before Your Move

There are things that you can do before moving cats to a new home that will help lessen their stress. Bring an item back from the new place to gradually introduce new smells to your cat. Think something like a dishtowel, pillow, or cat toy. 

Provide Enrichment

Leave a cardboard moving box out for them to play with as an enrichment activity. Perhaps they’ll even continue playing with leftover boxes after the move. 

Keep Your Cat’s Schedule

As hard as it is when you’re stressed about moving, make sure to keep your cat’s routine. That includes feeding, affection, and play times.

Help Them Love Their Carrier

Cat carriers are confusing and triggering to cats, but as soon as you know you’re moving, try to acclimate them to the carrier so they see it as a safe space rather than a cage of doom. Leave the carrier near your cat’s food bowls with the door open and treats inside so your cat can check it out in an area they’re required walk by a few times a day. Once they’ve stopped hating it as much, try moving their food dish just inside the carrier. Over a few days, or even weeks, move the dish further inside the carrier. If you can work slowly through this process, you stand a good chance of making moving day easier on both of you.

Deep Clean the New House Before Cats Arrive

Before you move into the new place, give it a deep clean, especially if there were animals there before. Your cat is much more likely to transition well if they don’t smell the previous tenants. Get carpets and upholstery cleaned, wipe all surfaces, and vacuum the floors extra thoroughly to remove fur and dander.

Consider Medication to Help Them Relax

If your cat is especially nervous, talk to your vet about recommendations for relaxation aids that can help your cat before, during, and after the move. There are several prescription and over the counter options.

Moving Day

Try to empty one full room of your old residence first and move your cat’s litter, food, carrier, and toys to that area. Keep the door closed and don’t let movers in that room. This prevents your cat from witnessing the move and reduces any chance of them getting lost with open doors all day. Pack this room up last.

Keep your cat’s meals small or consider feeding them part of the meal once you’re in the new house to avoid travel sickness. Cover the carrier with a towel to reduce their stress, but keep a roll of paper towels nearby to clean up a mess. No matter how much they yowl and complain in the car, don’t let them out of the carrier until you’re in the new home and all the doors are closed. A stressed cat is likely to act erratically, so it’s key to prevent them from dashing out the door.

Once you’ve arrived, set up a clean, empty room just for the cat, with their litter, food, and treats scattered around. You can even put some catnip in one of the empty moving boxes for them to enjoy. By confining them to a single room, your cat can begin to explore without being overwhelmed by so much new territory. Once they seem okay, you can give them free range and move the litter box to its permanent space. Remember to go slow.

Most importantly, keep calm and stick to your routine, it is crucial to successfully introduce a cat to a new home. Best of luck!

Read more: If your cat will be cohabitating with a new dog, we’ve got tips for introducing dogs and cats.

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