Moving house is always a stressful undertaking, as there is a lot to remember, a lot to organise and a lot to do! Moving house with pets is doubly stressful – especially for them. We know that cats get very attached to territory (some may say more so than people) so moving your cat from one address to another can be the biggest upheaval of all.
Bearing that in mind, there are ways in which you can make the move easier on your cat (and on you), so read on for some tried and tested tips.
Keep them safe
During the packing phase and the boxing up of your belongings, it might be wise to leave one room of the house untouched and keep your cat in that room with their favourite toys, food and water to drink. This will keep them out of harm’s way while you pack up your life and will also avoid them becoming stressed by the upheaval.
When moving day arrives, keep your cat in their room with the door closed and possibly place a sign on the door for the removal men to see- make sure that the door and windows are kept closed at all times to avoid an escape! The stress of trying to find your lost cat on top of the moving chaos would be rather a lot to deal with at once.
Once your old home is empty – ensure that you have a room just for your kitty set up at your new home. This room should contain familiarity - so pop in your cat’s toys, scratch tower, a cardboard box, a blanket or some clothing that smells of you and the old home, as well as food, water and their bed.
If you have a particularly nervous cat who would find moving house unbearably stressful, it might be worth taking them to stay in a nice cattery for a few days so that you can complete the move without the extra worry for both of you.
In the new home
Keep your cat in their basket while you prepare this room so that they are safe. Once the room is ready, place the basket in it, close the door and allow them to venture out of their box and explore the new room at the own pace.
While they do this, you can ready the rest of your new home as much as possible: move furniture around, unpack your things, make it yours. Then, let your cat explore a room at a time and get used to their new surroundings. Let them rub themselves on the furniture, doors and skirting boards to spread their scent in their new home.
You could also take a well-worn piece of your clothing and rub it on surfaces around the new house so that your cat picks up your familiar scent profile, this should put them at ease.
Be sure to leave places for your cat to hide all over the house so that they can run and hide at any moment when feeling overwhelmed with the change.
It’s important that you keep your cat inside for 2-4 weeks after a move, so that they have time to connect to the new territory. Some cats might get very frustrated to be kept indoors for any length of time, so keep it to two weeks if your cat is of this nature.
Before opening those doors or installing your cat flap, you’ll need to ensure your new garden or outdoor area is secure and safe for cats. See our previous post on making your garden safe for pets.
When you are finally ready to open the door to the new outside world, make sure you stay with them and keep the first few expeditions quite short. A good way of doing this is letting them out just before feeding times, so you can easily entice them back in with the shake of a packet or tapping of a food bowl.
You can let each outdoor expedition become longer and longer over the course of a week or two, until you are happy to leave them unsupervised and safe in the knowledge that they will return.
Cats do adjust to new surroundings with a little time and patience and before long, your furry friend will be ruling the roost again!