Cats are territorial creatures, so relocating a cat to a new environment is likely to result in anxiety and stress-based behavior.
It will take a bit of foresight on your part, but when moving with cats, planning the moving process for them is very worth it. This way you can make the transition as easy as possible, for them and you.
So what can you do before you move?
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Before the Move
There are lots of things you can do to reduce cat anxiety before you move.
The more you can get your cat used to the idea of a big change taking place the better. Don’t go overboard though. Otherwise, your cat may freak out before moving day arrives!
Cats have a sixth sense when it comes to anything out of the ordinary. So you’ll need to introduce small changes in the weeks leading up to moving day, rather than just spring it on them without warning.
You can do things like, leave their cat carrier sitting out made up with a comfy bed inside. Gradually tempt your cat inside the carrier over a few weeks, first by putting in some cat treats, then placing his meals next to it and then inside it.
By the time you move, your cat will be totally at ease with spending more time in his carrier for traveling.
Packing can be an activity that is highly stressful for a cat.
It’s best to confine them to a quiet room to keep them out of the way. Once you finish packing a box, put it in the hallway or lounge so your cat sees it and gets used to it. Make sure each box is taped closed, otherwise your cat may try to hide in one of them.
Before the move, stick to your cat’s daily feeding and playing routine as much as possible. If your cat is highly sensitive, then you might consider anti-anxiety medication to help make the moving process easier.
During the Move
Hopefully, you’ve managed to pack and have kept your cat cool, calm and collected up until this point. Here’s how to make sure that moving day goes smoothly, and your furry friend is safely ensconced in your new home.
If you’re traveling a long distance by car with your cat, then your hard work with the cat carrier is about to pay off.
Your cat shouldn’t have a problem with being inside the carrier for a long period but if he does start yowling – stop for a break but don’t open the cage door to pat him. He may try to escape. Wind down the car window to give him some fresh air and talk soothingly and he should calm down.
Apart from giving your cat a small breakfast in the morning before you set off, avoid giving him food and water throughout the journey if it’s less than 12 hours.
After the Move
Congratulations, you made it to your new home and your cat seems to be holding it together. The hard part is over, now you just have to wait for your cat to adjust to his new surroundings. This could take at least two to four weeks, during which time you should keep your cat safely indoors.
The first stage of moving house with a cat is settling him in. Keep your cat in one room in the house, a ‘home-base’ as such, with his food and water dishes, toys, bed, and litter box. This way he can get used to his new surroundings without being overwhelmed.
After a few days, give your cat access to another room and let him explore, and so on around the house. Always supervise if you can’t close doors to limit his access.
Be sure to cat-proof each room before he goes in, so there aren’t any electrical cords lying around, windows that are open a notch or nooks where he can get stuck.
It’s important to give your cat positive reinforcement for a successful exploration session, in the form of petting, verbal praising or a food treat.
These steps to reduce cat anxiety may sound like too much hard work while you are going through the rigors of moving. But ignoring them can be risky.
Later down the road, you may have to put up with an anxious cat that goes to the potty where he wants, or perhaps one that meows and cries at night, or worse, turns aggressive on you.
Moving with cats isn’t always a simple process. But if your cat’s overall happiness is important to you, then the long-term benefits you’ll get are worth the extra time and effort you will need to put in.
Angela Pearse is a blogger for Zumper who frequently combines travel with freelance writing. She’s passionate about Art Deco hotels, historical novels, Netflix, hiking and healthy living.