Moving House with a Cat

Moving house with a cat

You are moving house

Moving a cat from one house to another can be stressful for both humans and cats. Some swift planning and preparation, however, will help ease the transition and ensure a smooth move for everyone.

Your options

There are broadly 3 options for moving day: deciding to take your cat with you as you move, booking your cat into a Cattery or booking your cat in a pet-sitting service. Choosing between the three depends on personal preference and if your cat is more accustomed to being left at home alone.

  • Cattery

If you want to book your cat in for a few days at the cattery, then you don’t have to worry about them while they’re away.  You do need to organise it well in advance and make sure their vaccinations are up to date before they head into the cattery.

  • Pet sitting service

If you book your cat in with a pet sitter, you’ll be able to relax knowing that your feline friend is in good hands. You’ll need to make the arrangements well in advance, because these services can be booked up quite far in advance.

Keeping your cat with you during the move

First, decide on a room in your old home where you can set up a kitty room. This should be a quiet space away from the rest of the house where your cat can be alone during the move. Next, decide on an area in the new home where you will arrange to set up a temporary kitty room. Ideally, this space will be away from where you will be living but close enough that your pet can be moved there quickly once you arrive at the new property.

A few days before the big move day, start preparing your cat’s new room. Set up a new litter box, water bowl, toy and scratching posts. Put a blanket in there as well so they feel right at home. On the evening before the move, remove their scratching post, toys, and food bowl from their current room. Shut them in to make sure they don’t go missing.

If you have more than one cat, make sure they have separate feeding and litter boxes. If you know your cats don’t enjoy each other’s company, it may be better to give them their own ‘safe room’.

Moving day

If you are taking your cat to the cattery, do this the day before you move to minimise any confusion. If your cat is staying at home, make sure they have plenty of food and water, and keep them safe and secure in their kitty room.

Once you’re ready to leave, you can secure your cat in their carrier and load it into your car. Your cat may be less apprehensive about the journey if you spray synthetic pheromones on the carrier a few minutes before she is placed inside. If your cat is prone to motion sickness, withholding food for three to four hours before the journey can help her feel more settled.

Once you arrive at your new home, take them to their room where they will find familiar things like a bed and blanket. You might also want to give them something that smells of you, like an unwashed t-shirt, to help them settle in. Once they have settled, you can also give them food, water and a litter tray.

Remember to close the door and then leave your cat alone. Make the removal crew and other family members aware of which room your cat is in so they don’t wander around or accidentally release kitty from their room. And, if you can, add a sign on the door explaining the circumstances.

Extra help

Talk to your vet about the benefits of using artificial pheromones. Artificial pheromones mimic the scent from a cat’s facial glands, helping cats to feel more secure and comfortable in their surroundings. You can buy artificial cat pheromones online or from your vet and then use these scents around the house to help your kitty settle in. You can also wipe clean a clean cloth with your cat’s scent and then place this at cat height on pieces of furniture or other places in the new house.

Getting settled

It’s often a good idea to let your cat settle in their new room for a few days. Depending on your cat’s nature, it might be overwhelming for them to have access to the whole of the house straight away. If they show signs of being ready to explore further, make sure all doors, windows and cat flaps are closed as they are not quite not ready to venture outside yet! Ensure they always have access to their ‘safe room’ in case they feel insecure and need to return to it.

Going outside

It’s important that your cat feels safe and comfortable in its new home before venturing outdoors for the first time. Some cats lose their bearings in unfamiliar territory, leading them to stray back to the old house. Keeping cats indoors for at least three weeks will allow them to get reacquainted with their new home and acclimatise to the smells, sounds, and surroundings. It will also give them time to acquire a scent profile to help them find their way back to their new house.

Once you let them out:

  • encourage your cat to go outside by stepping outside so they go with you
  • do it when they are hungry (so just before a mealtime), then when you call them back, you can do so with their favourite food
  • allow them to make the decision to go outside themselves (don’t pick them up)
  • leave the door open so that your cat can run back into the new house if they feel a bit insecure
  • only let them out for short periods at first. Gradually increase the amount and duration of time your cat can be outside as they get more comfortable.

If your cat is microchipped, make sure you update their contact details on the central database when you move house. If they are not already microchipped, consider getting them registered so they will have a single ID number for life and can be traced more easily if they wander off.

Remember to register with a new vet if moving to another area. If your cat has existing health issues, you may wish to organise this before you move.

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