How do you move a cat to a new home with as little stress and upheaval for your cat? Cats are creatures of routine. They find change and too much activity stressful. Indoor cats do not have the ability to escape their surroundings the way outdoor ones do so they need special consideration on those stressful and hectic days coming up to the move and on move day itself.
There are lots of things to think about and do when you are moving house with your cat. You need to plan in advance to make sure your cat doesn’t get stressed. It is important that your cat is safe and has as good a journey as possible. On the day you need to make sure your cat is safe and as unstressed as possible while you are moving everything. While you are traveling, make sure your cat is comfortable and safe. etc. When you arrive what to do with your cat to help them settle in those first hours. Below covers, what you need to do to keep your cat happy while moving.
It sounds like a lot but a few advanced preparations can help both you and your cat have a less stressful move. While this is written with the indoor cat in mind a lot of this article applies to both indoor and outdoor cats.
Moving House With an Indoor Cat
One of the most stressful times in anyone’s life can be moving house. While it is also exciting there is a lot to do and it is easy to forget how worrying and stressful it can be for our furry friends, especially if they are indoor cats and less able to escape to the create outdoors.
Cats are sensitive creatures who thrive on routine and calm and they may not understand why there is so much activity or why their human is stressed. They will, however, feel it. They will pick up on your mood even before you know you have one.
The idea is to keep your cat as calm and as close to it’s normal routine as possible. All the advice you get on this is very good advice, however, it’s all very general, put your cat in a new room or a kennel is great advice but of course, each situation and cat is different.
For example I don’t have a room to block off and even if I did Boo would get stressed about being away from me, he gets stressed if he has to go upstairs without me (seriously there are times I have to go with him) and while your cat may not be as dependent on their human as Boo there will be things that are suggested where you will just roll your eyes and say well that won’t work.
This is why I want to cover as many options as possible. If you have any further ideas that have been successful or a disaster or are unique please feel free to comment below. Each thing will help other cat families in the future.
What to Do To Help Your Cat Before The Move
There is a lot to do before the move. There are things you can do to help your cat in advance.
By being organized you reduce down the time it takes to place items in the house and to find them later. All boxes should be clearly labeled with the room they are going in.
Packing can take days or even weeks even for a small house. This is all upheaval, for you and your cat. It can also be dangerous if things that are not normally out are left out and boxes may topple. We all know how our feline friends love those boxes.
When Moving House Advanced Planning For Your Cat is Vital
It’s a good idea if you can to know what you are planning to do with your cat/s before the big day. It may be that you decide on a cattery/cat kennel in which case they can go in a couple of days early and come out again once you have settled in and can make a cozy home for them. It also saves you having to constantly worry about them on the day. Of course, it depends on how used to catteries they are.
Or you can prepare a room for them in the house and remove things in advance and put in their items so they feel safe. They will need their food bowls (unless you are not feeding them that day) and water and litter, scratch posts and a cat bed, etc. If they are used to being in the room in advance that will help. Cats hate closed doors though as they feel trapped and cannot escape so even this may be stressful for them.
Make sure you have a calming diffuser plugged in and ready to go to relax your cat.
Or if you have a reliable friend you can ask if they can go there for a few hours.
You may also want to think about and plan where they are going to go when you get to your new house. You may want to reduce the number of boxes that will go into their area or keep some of their things to move into it as soon as you arrive so they are safe and out of the way.
Are They Microchipped?
Make sure your cat is microchipped in advance of the journey just in case of mishaps. Then if for any reason you do lose your cat because it escapes the house of the car you stand a better chance of getting it back again.
What to Do With Your Cat on the Actual House Move Day
Before The Drive
Removing items from the house
The advanced plans come into play and you make sure your cat is out of the way while everything is being moved.
The Advantages of Using Movers
We always did our own house moves, as hiring a moving company is expensive. Yet when I did it once it was well worth the money. I opened the door of my new home the men walked in with my furniture and boxes and the house looked almost like home in a ½ hour or so. Yes, everything was in boxes but all the furniture was in place. I put the fire on and made tea.
This would be perfect for a cat as you would not need to keep it away from the home or in a room for long if you didn’t want to. This greatly reduces any stress on the cat and could save having to put them in a cattery/cat kennels.
Cat Safety & Keep Your Cat Calm
If your cat is still in your home you need to keep it and everyone else safe. Cats hate disruption so it will probably keep out of the way if it can anyway. However, it is a good idea to keep your cat out of the way for its benefit and for the benefit of others. If you can keep it in a quiet room and put something on the door so that no one opens it. If this stresses out your cat then perhaps have someone stay with it if possible.
On the other side of the coin, your cat may either shoot outside and get injured or trip someone up. This is especially dangerous if they are carrying things down the stairs.
Should You Feed Your Cat Before or During the Journey?
There are differing views on this. Some experts say not to while others say to keep to the cats routine. I think it depends on the cat and the journey myself. My mum never feeds Willow before a journey as she always throws up even on a short journey. I’m not sure I’d have a choice with Boo, I’d never hear the end of it if he didn’t get his breakfast. If I fed him at 5 am and we moved afternoon he’d be fine.
I live in the UK so it’s never going to be that long a journey. However, for some of you, the journey may be days in which full travel arrangements and preparations would be needed to make the journey as smooth as possible.
The Cat Carrier
About 15 minutes before you are due to put your cat into the carrier, spray the carrier (not the cat) and leave it. This will help to keep your cat calm during the journey.
If it is a long journey you will need to respray about every 4 to 5 hours. To do this you will need to keep your cat away from the sprayed area for 15 minutes again. An option might be to have a spare piece of bedding and spray that outside of the vehicle then replace it inside after 15 minutes (note these are Feliway guidelines check the pack if you are using a different type of spray.
This does work, my previous cat Maisie always cried in the car I used this for an hours journey and she barely made a sound the whole way. I checked her halfway and she was fine.
The cat cannot be left alone in the car.
The Drive to Your New Home With Your Cat
All Strapped in
If the journey is a long one you may want to buy a bigger crate so that your cat can move around. If not make sure your cat is secure by putting them into a cat carrier and making sure the inside surface of the carrier isn’t slippy. Put in some newspaper or something. Then secure them with a seatbelt so the carrier itself isn’t slipping. Ideally, have someone sit with them if you can.
Heat Can Kill Your Cat Even While Driving
We all know that like dogs cats cannot be left in the car even on mildly warm days (or cold ones for that matter) as they will die. So you can’t even leave them a few minutes because that is all it will take to lose your pet. There is also a danger when you are moving.
If it is a hot day and your cat is in the back of the car please do not assume that it will be OK even if you have the air conditioning on while you are driving. I don’t remember where I heard it but someone lost a cat this way.
The back of the car can be hotter, the cat can be stressed and if they have no immediate access to water that can also be an issue.
When my mum brought Willow home she had a long journey. I was panicking the whole time. I told mum to keep an eye on her. Everyone made sure Willow was fine.
Water Is Vital
If your cat does not have access to water in their carrier and you are going a long distance you may have to stop and make sure they are OK and have a drink. make sur eyou bring your normall suply with you so they are used to it.
If your Cat Cries in The Car
Most cats hate to travel and will cry the best thing you can do is to use a diffuser spray to keep them calm (see cat carrier above).
Scarab, my sister’s cat Scarab gets stressed beyond reason when he is in the car as the poor little mite has been to the vets so many times he becomes quite distraught. If you have a cat like Scarab and are traveling a longer distance, more than 30 minutes, you might want to speak with your vet to see if there is anything stronger they can give them for the journey.
Does Your Cat Need Toilet Stops?
You may need to carry spare bedding and poo bags as there is a likelihood that your cat will poop in its carrier. This will stress it out.
I had a cat once that pooped every single journey even to the vets and that was only 10 minutes drive away.
After The Drive
Once you arrive you may want to settle your cat into somewhere quiet.
After Your House Move
Make sure you plug in the diffuser again and put down all your cat’s things in their allocated space.
I am a big believer in doing my best to give my cat what he needs but also the flexibility where possible to decide for himself what he wants to do. I would also adapt this method if I had a different cat with different needs. I know Boo would not be happy on his own in a room. I would only put him there if I needed to keep him safe and out of the way while moving was in progress. Boo is a friendly cat who is rarely more than a few feet away from me. He would probably be better if he were with me during the move than locked away anyway.
So as soon as it was safe I would make sure he had his familiar things around, his food and litter tray and water, etc in their new places. I would give him safe places to hide if need be, close many doors (assuming I had any) but let him explore the main areas after I’d checked them for dangers. I’d sit down with a drink and stay calm and let him decide.
About My Cat Boo
Although I have moved with cats before I have often wondered what a move would be like with Boo. He adapted very well to moving here. When we arrived home I let him out of his carrier and left him to explore my small home. (I don’t have the space to keep him to one room). If he’d felt the need he could have hidden but he didn’t.
He did tend to sit by the wall but I was never sure if that was due to being worried about moving or because I knew his past. He would also sit right under my chair so I didn’t think it was stress or fear of me.
I think Boo would adapt very easily to moving to a new home. However, I know how stressful I would get and he does pick up on that. If I am watching YouTube and getting wound up or reacting to what my sister says on the phone he gets irate and his tail swishes. I have to apologize and stroke him to calm him back down.
I would be worried as I have nowhere to put him while the move was on so he would easily escape through the door or get stood on.
I am definitely in favor of using something like Feliway to keep him calm for a few days before the move. And I found that spray Feliway helped when I moved with Maisie (my previous cat) who would normally cry in the car all the time and she was fine for an hours trip.
I have considered putting him in the kennels for the day but he stresses if he is alone.
I Have very little in the way of furniture, if I were to get movers in I could easily take him outside (weather permitting) while they loaded the van. Then pop him into his carrier for the trip.