So, the movers have gone. The visitors who brought a casserole for dinner have gone, and the house is quiet. You, your family, and your cat are finally in your new house. Moving to a new house causes major stress for most cats, so it’s important for us as pet parents to make the transition as smooth as possible for them. Here are some tips to make the process as smooth as possible for both you and your feline friend.
Kitty Safety Tips
- Close all external doors and windows.
- Look for potential hazards for your cat. If you’re not using the chimney, it might be an idea to pile some packing boxes in front of it. Frightened cats have been known to climb into a chimney.
- Move indoor plants that may be poisonous to your cat out of reach.
- Are there any pest control traps that need to be put out of reach?
The Safe Room
If you haven’t done so already, you need to set up your cat’s safe room to give your them time to adjust to their new surroundings. Staying in the safe room for a few days will help them feel more secure and less overwhelmed by their new surroundings.
Think about what’s happening in the house for the rest of today and the next couple of days. Perhaps the laundry would be best? Or what about one of the bedrooms? It needs to be a room that allows some quiet time for your kitty and is not in the hustle and bustle of unpacking.
- Make sure that the door is able to be securely closed.
- Place notice signs on the door and the approach to the room to warn visitors about your kitty, especially if you have any work being done in your new house.
- Provide food and water. Cats can get stressed out and lose their appetite during a move. Make sure they have plenty of food and water available so they don’t get too skinny or dehydrated. They will also need their bed, toys, scratching post, cat tree, and litter box in their safe room.
- Give the room a spray with a synthetic facial pheromone or pheromone diffuser, such as Feliway. Spray at about 8 inches, which is cat height.
- Make sure your cat has a safe place to hide. During the move, your cat may become scared or overwhelmed. Having a place where they can hide and feel safe will help them adjust to the new environment. You could leave a wardrobe door open, or they might like to sit under the bed. Leave the cat carrier in the safe room in case they want return to it to feel safe.
- You or one of your family can then let your cat out of the carrier in the safe room. Open the carrier door and allow him or her to come out in their own time.
- Put a seat in the safe room so you’re comfy when you chat with them. Allow them to investigate the room. You could even place some treats around the room to encourage some exploration.
When they choose somewhere they feel comfortable, they just need a bit of time to adapt. Leave him or her in the safe room. Don’t force your cat to explore right away. Let them take their time exploring the new house. If they want to stay in their safe place, that’s okay! Eventually, they will explore on their own terms.
- Spend time with your cat. One of the best ways to help them adjust to the new house is by spending time with them.
Come back every now and then and talk to your cat. Let them hear your calm and gentle voice to help your cat feel safe, especially if they are in hiding. Offer some food, but they may not be interested yet.
- Keep in mind small gaps that your cat may use as hiding places such as behind the washing machine. This was the place of choice for my Mum’s cat, Cordelia. The safe room was the laundry. Cordelia was quite safe behind there and we kept checking on her until she felt confident enough to come out. If your cat chooses a spot such as this and they are quite safe, don’t try to force them out. They will come out when they are ready.
Once they seem settled, gradually start letting them explore the rest of the house bit by bit. If they seem nervous or scared at any point, just let them retreat back to their safe room and try again another day.
How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Get Used To A New House?
It really depends on the cat. Some cats may take a few days, while others may take weeks or even months. Just be patient, understanding, and gentle, and give them time to adjust at their own pace. Eventually, they will feel right at home!
How Long Will A Scared Cat Hide?
It really depends on the cat’s personality. Some cats will hide for days or even for a few weeks, while others may only stay hidden for a few hours. My personal tip is that they need comforting smells around them and the sound of your gentle voice. If your cat is hiding, just give them time and they will eventually come out on their own.
Why Is My Cat Meowing After Moving?
First of all, don’t worry! It’s perfectly normal for cats to meow a lot after moving. They are probably feeling scared and confused in their new environment. Just give them time to adjust and they will eventually settle down. In the meantime, try to spend as much time with them as possible so they feel comfortable and safe. You could also try spraying some Feliway around their hiding spot to help calm them down.
Is Your Cat Hiding Under The Bed After The Move?
If you’ve just moved house, congratulations! You’re probably feeling excited and a little bit nervous about everything that’s new. One of the big changes is your cat’s surroundings. They may be feeling a bit disoriented too and may hide away to feel safe.
If your cat is hiding under the bed and won’t come out, don’t fret! Make sure they’re in a quiet spot where the cat seems to feel safe. Ensure they have everything they need, give them some time and space, and try a few things to coax them out. Let them adjust to their new surroundings at their own pace. If they want to hide away for a while, that’s okay!
After 24 hours or so, it’s time to start trying to coax your cat out from under the bed. Try calling their name in a soft, friendly voice. You can also try offering them treats or their favorite toy. If they still don’t come out, don’t worry and try again tomorrow.
Once your cat feels comfortable in their safe space, slowly start introducing them to the rest of the house. Let your cat roam free and explore at their own pace under your supervision. Don’t force them to interact with anyone or anything. With time and patience, your kitty will come out of their hiding spot and feel right at home in no time!
Getting Used To New Smells
Cats judge everything by scent. Their world consists of different clouds of smells. If the former occupant of your house had a cat or a dog, those clouds of aromas will be very obvious to your cat. Your cat needs to smell their own scent to get them started with their adjustment to the new house.
Get an old sock and place your hand inside. Rub your cat’s cheek and then rub the sock on doorways and furniture at a level of about 8 inches. When you see your cat rub on these surfaces, they have claimed this as their new territory.
Letting Your Cat Out Of The Safe Room
After a week or two, your cat should be feeling more settled and comfortable in their new home. Just take things slowly and let them adjust at their own pace, and everything will eventually fall into place.
- Allow your cat to decide when they want to leave the safe room. You’ll know they are ready when they start to do normal things, such as eating.
- Introduce your cat to the house one room at a time. Keep an eye on them and let them hear your voice.
- Preferably stick to the same routine with your cat as you had in your last house. If that is not possible, start the new routine from day 1. Cats pick up routines very quickly.
- Put a second litter box where your cat will regularly use it in the future. Keep the litter box in the safe room until they are happy using the regular litter box.
- Cats are generally great at associating uses of rooms with their owner’s behavior. If the cat doesn’t get the idea of where the regular litter box is, keep the cat in the area of the house where the litter box is so they can get used to it.
- Your cat will pick up on your mood, so keep it all light and casual. My main mood in the first days after a move is relief, so this is no problem for me. As I unpack, I do what seems normal to my cat, such as playing Eagles songs.
- If you had ever considered turning your outside cat into an inside cat, this might be your opportunity.
Letting Your Cat Outside The House
Before letting your cat outside:
- Ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date.
- Their quick-release collar should have your phone number.
- It would be best for your cat to be microchipped.
- Keep your cat inside for at least 2 weeks. If your cat is timid a longer stint inside may be needed. Observe your cat’s body language. Are they feeling comfortable in their new home? Do you think that they know this is their home now?
All the cats I have had were rescued and were definitely outside cats, so it was only a matter of time for them to show the signs of wanting to go out.
- While your cat is staying inside, chase away other cats that appear in your garden. Also be aware of any potential risks, such as dogs and traffic.
Here are some tips for introducing your cat to the garden:
- Obviously, if your cat is still making use of the safe room, this is not the time to introduce them to the outside world.
- Give your cat a gradual introduction to your garden. Give them a look through the window, a look through the screen door.
- When you’re ready to let your cat out, do it on a day of nice weather when you’re home all day. Do it about half an hour before their normal meal time.
- Offer your cat the opportunity to go out the door. Don’t force them, wait for them to decide.
- Go out with your cat the first time, and be prepared for them to explore.
- Leave the door open for a quick retreat back inside if something scares them.
- After half an hour, or when your cat decides, you can take him or her back into the house for their meal.
- Some cats may adapt immediately. If your cat is anxious, you may need to accompany them the first few times that they venture outside.
- If another cat has already claimed the garden, in the future your cat will need to take back that territory. This may involve some spitting and arched backs.
Do You Need A Cat Door?
Consider installing a cat flap if you own the house, or if you have permission from the owner. SureFlap is a great choice. It reads the cat’s microchip and keeps other cats and wildlife out. I thought it was a bit expensive (around $200) but a life without neighborhood cats, possums, and birds infiltrating my house was very restful. Plus, if your cat is being chased they can run through the cat door and whatever is chasing them can’t get in.
If you are or a member of your family is home most of the time, you can let them in or out on demand. Or you could leave a window open a few inches. Some windows can lock at the size of the opening that you choose for security.
Following these tips will help your cat adjust to the new house after a move. Remember to be patient and give them time to explore and get comfortable in their new surroundings. They are so smart. They will adapt, they just need time and consideration. Try to observe your cat and provide support where you can. In a little while, your lives will create “a new normal” at your new address.