Cats typically tend to be creatures of habit and most do not handle change very well, particularly when it comes to moving away from the comfort and sanctuary of familiar turf. If you are moving house, the following tips will help make the transition easier for your pet and help them adjust into their new environment with as little stress as possible.
- Introduce your cat to the pet carrier you will use to transport him to his new home well ahead of the move. To allow your pet to become accustomed to the carrier, place it in a familiar corner with a cosy blanket inside and some treats to entice him to investigate. Once you have piqued his curiosity, you can feed your cat inside the carrier, starting by placing the food bowl just outside, then moving the it into the entrance, then gradually moving the bowl deeper inside to encourage him to venture further in to eat.
- Place the moving boxes you plan to use for packing your stuff somewhere visible so that your cat can get accustomed to having them around. Should your pet become nervous when you start packing, rather put him in a quiet corner somewhere, where he won’t be disturbed by the frenzied activity or sneak into one of your packing boxes to hide away.
- Try to stick to a regular routine, feeding your cat at the same time every day — they are creatures of habit remember.
- If your cat is nervous at the best of times discuss this with your vet who may recommend some form of medication to help relieve his anxiety and make the move that much less stressful for your pet. You can also try pheromone diffusers, such as feliway, which offer a good natural alternative to sedative medication, to help calm your cat.
- To be on the safe side, it is a good idea to fit your cat with a collar and identity tag containing your contact telephone number. Also have your cat microchipped before you go, in case they escape or wander off in unfamiliar territory after the move.
Day of the move
- Things can get very busy on moving day, with strangers moving in and out of the house carrying furniture and boxes full of your worldly possessions. A nervous or frightened cat may make a dash for freedom, escaping unnoticed amongst all the chaos, and be nowhere to be found when it’s time to depart. To be safe, rather keep your pet confined in one room with a comfortable bed, sufficient food and water, and a litter box. A locked bathroom or toilet is ideal as the movers usually have no need to access these rooms.
- To reduce the likelihood of an upset tummy only give your pet a little bit to eat on the morning of the move.
- Once you have placed your pet inside the carrier and loaded it into the vehicle and are on your way to your new abode, don’t be tempted to open the carrier in an attempt to calm him down unless it is absolutely necessary. Only open the crate if you are in a confined area that your cat cannot escape from. A frightened cat may bolt and can easily get lost in a strange environment.
- A desperate cat can really put up a valiant struggle in its attempt to escape, often at the expense of the carrier. If you have an old or cardboard carrier, keep emergency items such as packaging tape and/or cable ties handy in case you need to make emergency repairs to the carrier during transit.
Settling in to your new abode
- Before you let your cat free to roam around your new home you need to ensure the house is cat-proof. Make sure that electrical cords are safely tucked away and that there are no poisonous traps or plants that could harm your pet. Ensure that all windows are fitted with a mesh screen to prevent your cat from escaping while it is serving the initial period of ‘house-arrest’ as it gets used to its new surroundings.
- Keep your cat confined to one room in the house initially, ensuring that this ‘holding area’ is quiet, cat-proof and safe. Place your cat’s bed, food and water bowls, litter box, and any favourite toys in the room so that all his familiar home comforts are right at hand to help him settle in. Make sure that you devote some time to your cat, as your presence will be very reassuring as your pet adjusts to this new and strange environment.
- After a day or two you can let your cat out of the room, giving it more freedom to explore other areas of the house, gradually extending this to the rest of the home once you have unpacked and have restored some sense of normality. Keep a close eye on your cat as he explores his new domain, making sure he doesn’t wander off further afield.
- Keep a litter box in the ‘holding area’ for the first few weeks until your cat settles in. It is a good idea to place another litter box in an area that you would like to designate for your kitty’s business in the future.
As an unhappy cat can meow and moan incessantly, try to escape, become aggressive, or urinate in places it shouldn’t purely due to stress, a stress-free pet ultimately translates into less stress for you too. Good luck!