It is a universally acknowledged truth that cats are creatures of habit. As territorial animals, they regard their surroundings as sacred and do whatever they can to make that known. So with much time invested in marking their territory, it won’t come as a surprise that moving house can be a stressful experience, when handled incorrectly. Thankfully, we’re here to help. Here are our top tips for achieving a stress-free house move with your cat.
CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS
There are several ways to handle a house move and the option you choose depends on your circumstances and what’s best for your kitty. Often regarded as the easiest option, many choose to book their cat into a cattery during the move. This minimises your cat being subjected to the stresses that come with a move, such as loud noises, chaos and strangers in your home. Another idea, is to leave your cat with a trusted friend, who your feline is familiar with. Finally, if neither of these options are practical, and simply, you need to move your cat with you, follow these tips to make the experience as pleasant as possible.
A week or two before the big move, allocate a room in both houses, which can be cleared of furniture. Ideally, this will be a room where your cat usually sleeps or eats and should be kept as undisturbed as possible. Gradually begin to move your cat’s belongings here, adding in their bedding, food bowls, litter tray etc. Begin feeding them here so they see the area as theirs. The night before your moving date, close your cat in their room.
Spend some time with your kitty in their room before the commotion starts. Play with them, feed them and change their water bowl and litter tray. When finished, close the door behind you. Make everyone know that the room is out of bounds, and add a sign on the door to that effect.
When you are ready to leave, load your cat’s belongings into the car, pop them in their carrier and you’re good to go. It’s worth checking out our guide to travelling with your cat to make the car journey as painless as possible.
AT YOUR NEW HOME
When you arrive, take your cat to the designated ‘safe’ room. Bring in their belongings, give them fresh food and water and add a box or two for hiding in. A room with a high vantage point, such as cupboards is perfect as cats are known to climb high in order to feel secure. Finally, pop in something with your scent close the door, and again, make it known that this room is to be avoided.
When the move is complete, it’s time to help your kitty get settled. It might be a good idea to keep them in the assigned room for a few days until they feel a little safer. Cats are very good at letting us know what they want so when he or she is good and ready to start exploring, you’ll know about it.
Allow them to get familiar with the house at their own pace. If possible, let them explore certain zones first, so that they can navigate their way, mark their scent and have fun discovering their new, favourite spots.
MEET YOUR NEW VET
If your move means you’ll need a new vet, make an appointment as soon as possible. Your microchip details will need to be updated with your new address.
HELLO GREAT OUTDOORS
The biggest fear that cat owners express in regards to moving house, is allowing their cat outdoors. We’ve all heard the stories about owners moving miles away, only to discover their adventurous kitty has navigated their way back to their original home. The key here is not to rush the process. Your cat must be fully comfortable with their new indoor surroundings before they are allowed outside. Be patient – this can take time. Three to four weeks is a good timeframe as this allows them to build up a scent profile so they can track their way back.
An easy way to reintroduce your cat outdoors is to follow the steps you used when you first allowed them outside as a kitten, such as letting them out around a mealtime so they can easily be called back, staying with them, leaving the door open and only allowing them outside for short intervals until both of you feel comfortable knowing they’ll return. Check out our guide to letting your cat or kitten outside for the first time.
What steps did you take to minimise the stress associated with moving house with a cat? Tell us in the comments below.