Cats are creatures of habits and routines. As exciting as moving to a new house can be to you, this is likely not the case with your furry friends. However, there are a few tips you can follow to make this transition significantly smoother and stress-free, making sure you look after your pet’s health and wellbeing.

Before moving

The moving process doesn’t start when the lorry turns up to take your belongings to a new home. Along with all the planning that goes into getting your house in order (literally), don’t forget about your pet. Here are a few things you can do to get yourself ready for the big day;

  • Choose a cat carrier that is appropriate and safe for travelling. Ideally, this should be made of hard plastic and large enough for the cat to be able to stand and turn around. 
  • Once you have chosen your carrier, leave it in a quiet room in the house with one of your cat’s blankets inside and some toys, for at least one week before the move. This way, your cat will not only be familiarised with it but may also start using it as a safe haven or hiding place
  • Make sure your cat has a quick-release collar with an updated identification tag.
  • Consider visiting your local vets to discuss the need for medication such as anxiety and anti-sickness medication if your cat is particularly nervous or vomits during car journeys. Make sure your cat is up-to-date with vaccines, microchipped and registered with correct contact information, as well as the address of your new house.
  • Register with a veterinary practice close to your new house and ask your current vets to send your pet’s clinical history across.
  • If yours is a big move, involving removal services, consider choosing a safe room where your cat can stay with all its essentials. This might include bedding, food and water, litter tray, places to hide including the cat carrier, toys and a scratching post. Keep them away from the noise and chaos.

On the moving day

So the time has come. What can you do to support your cat as the move looms?

  • Lay an incontinence pad over the blanket in the carrier and keep a few spares to change if necessary. Take some wipes with you to keep the carrier clean in case accidents happen.
  • Make regular stops to offer your cat water and food and never leave your cat alone in a closed car, especially in the summer. Cats can be escape artists, especially when stressed. Consider putting a harness with a leash on or leave the car doors closed whenever you open the door of the carrier.
  • Prepare a safe room for your cat to stay for a few days until they feel confident enough to explore the rest of the house, ideally one room at a time. This room should have their old bedding, litter tray (with the same type of litter they are used to), scratching post, toys, food and water.
  • Upon arrival, keep your cat in a safe room with everything they need (food, bed, litter tray, toys, hiding places, scratching post). They can stay in this room as long as necessary, until you think they are familiarised and ready to explore the rest of the house. Plugging in a synthetic feline pheromone (e.g. Feliway) diffuser can help your cat feel safer in the new environment. This can be done a few days in advance if you have access to your new house before moving.

After moving

As you start to settle into your new home, your cat should become more comfortable. With the stress of moving day behind you, there are some last steps to help your feline friend;

  • Try to reserve some time to keep the routines you usually have with your cat (such as play-time or watching tv together etc).
  • Wait at least two weeks until you let your cat explore outside the house. When doing so, keep your cat supervised and allow them outside for short periods of time only. If moving to a nearby location, your cat may find familiar routes that lead to your old house. Alert the new occupiers to not encourage this behaviour in any way (such as feeding, petting, or letting them inside) as this may be confusing for your cat.
  • Each cat has a different personality and takes a different amount of time to explore and become familiar and comfortable in a new situation. Respect your cat’s time and never chase them around or force them to be in a place they feel uncomfortable or insecure in.
  • If moving in with someone that has other cats, leave them in different rooms for a minimum of a week. Then allow them to see each other without physical contact for another week and gradually let them share the same room under supervision. Although some cats form bonds and become good companions, others never enjoy the presence of each other. However, in their own time, cats learn to tolerate, establish rules and live peacefully with another cat.

And that’s it. Cat’s have different personalities, so will have their own way of dealing with change. It’s important to consider their requirements before, during and after any move. The most important thing is to reduce the stress and ensure they are safe and comfortable throughout. Enjoy your move.

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