Moving house can be a stressful experience for anyone, but it can be even more difficult if you have a cat. Cats are creatures of habit plus they are territorial. Put those two things together and that adds up to a pet that does not like to move house.
Moving house is one of life’s most nerve-racking and demanding events for people, so imagine how it is for your cat, who doesn’t understand all the commotion and doesn’t want anything to change.
If you’re planning on moving house with your cat, there are a few things you need to do to make the process as smooth as possible for both of you. Here are some tips to make the move easier and less stressful for you and your cat.
When You Book Your Movers
- Plan which small room will be your cat’s safe room on Moving Day. I like to choose one room that will not be part of the moving process, such as the bathroom. Or if that is not possible, choose another closed room that will not be disturbed during most of the moving process.
- If you are lucky enough to have a multi-pet household, consider if they should share the safe room. Are they used to being together even if they are feeling stressed? Maybe they need separate rooms?
- Consider your plan for how the house will be emptied. If your cat’s safe room is part of the moving process, do you want the contents of that room loaded onto the truck last? Those items will then be unloaded first at your new house so you can set your cat up immediately in their new safe room.
- Plan to move as many of the other items out of the safe room as possible before Moving Day in consideration of the movers.
- The mover may suggest moving the furniture out of the safe room for you as their first task. Your cat will only be in his or her carrier for that short time and can be settled into the safe room for the hour or two that it takes to load the truck.
- When you make your booking, tell your movers about your cat and your potential plans for Moving Day. They have a specific and efficient way to pack their truck and will have suggestions for making the move less stressful for you and your cat.
A Few Weeks Before Moving Day
- Moving is a stressful time. Most cats will feel your stress and become stressed themselves. Reduce your stress and your cat’s stress by planning ahead as much as possible.
- Get your packing boxes out as early as possible and let your cat inspect them.
- Keep a separate box for your cat’s needs. I always take this box with me in the car so it won’t be lost. On Moving Day you can fill the box up as you are leaving the old house and then unpack it in the safe room of the new house.
- Cats know when there is a change in the air. Piles of clothes and boxes everywhere are a dead giveaway. The packing process may be stressful for your cat. When you are packing, it can be a good idea to put your cat in a separate room. On the other hand, my cat Pruney seemed to find it reassuring to be included in this process. I think he felt more in control and could give all of the moving paraphernalia his seal of approval. Letting your cat have a sniffing “explore” might help your cat adjust to the idea of moving or at least packing.
- If your cat is with you when you are packing, keep an eye on them when you are closing up the boxes. The items in the box could smell very comforting to your anxious cat, and he or she might be tempted to climb in for a nap in a safe place.
- Consider boarding your cat for the last couple of days before Moving Day. If your cat is used to visiting a boarding facility, or you have a friend or relative who is known to your cat, this can be a great idea. You’ll need a vaccination certificate for a cattery. Check if anything else is required when you make your booking. After the move, you can pick your cat up and go directly to the new house.
- Ensure you have a suitable cat carrier.
- Microchip your cat. If your cat is already microchipped, ensure the contact details are up to date with the microchip company.
- Ensure your cat’s collar has your current phone number on it. A mobile number would be best.
- If you have an elderly cat, talk to your Vet about special requirements.
- If you think it is needed, talk to your Vet about Feliway, sedation, anti-anxiety medication, or Rescue Remedy.
- If you’re moving to a new area, get your cat’s health records printed for you to give to your new Vet. If you know who your new Vet is, your current Vet might email them on your behalf.
In The Week Before Moving Day
- Get the cat carrier out a few days before the move to allow your cat to get used to it. When my cats even hear the carrier, they head for the hills.
- If you are not boarding your cat, set up their safe room in the old home. They will need their bed, food and water, toys, and litter box. Also, consider using Feliway. If your dog will be in the same room, Feliway will is safe for him or her too.
- Place your cat’s carrier in the safe room so it won’t be loaded into the truck by accident.
- Clear out as much as possible from the safe room. The ideal situation would be that the only remaining items are your cat’s bed and other essentials. Use the advice that your mover gave you when you made your booking.
- Make sure your cat’s meal and play times don’t change. Try to keep as much of the normal daily routine as possible.
- If possible, go to your new home and start preparing the safe room. Because cats judge everything by their nose, spraying a synthetic facial pheromone, such as Feliway around the safe room will ease the terror of the first hours in the new territory. Spray it at about 8 inches, which is cat level. If you choose to use a pheromone diffuser, install that and let it do its thing. If you are also preparing for your dog, apply the DAP, which will have no effect on your cat. Feliway will have no effect on your dog.
- Whenever you feel it is the right time before Moving Day, start keeping your cat inside. In the last couple of days when packing is most intense, the general mood in the house might be a little anxious. If they feel uncomfortable enough, they might choose to lie low for a while and decide not to return home for a couple of days. Your moving day will be much more stressful if you are running around looking for your cat.
On Moving Day
- On the big day, give your cat a small breakfast. The stress of the day may cause indigestion. If the time to travel is less than three hours away, feeding may not be advisable. Water only would be better. You can provide food immediately at the new house, although they might still be too stressed to eat in this new environment.
- Keep your cat indoors on Moving Day, no chances to escape today!
- Put a “No Access” reminder notice for the movers on the door of your kitty’s safe room.
- When the movers arrive, ensure they are aware that your cat is in the house and that the safe room door must stay closed. If you have any special plans about how the house will be cleared, review your plan with them as soon as they arrive.
Moving cats to a new house will be stressful for both of you, but with these tips, you can do everything you can to make your furry friend feel comfortable.