Moving to a new home is a major task for all persons involved but when you are moving with cats it is necessary to take extra care in ensuring that your feline family members are safe and as stress-free as possible during the moving process.
Follow these few tips to make the move with cats easier for you and them:
If your cat is not accustomed to being in a carrier, start a few weeks out from the move in familiarizing him/her with the carrier. The goal is to have the cat regard the carrier as a ‘safe zone’ and not a place for punishment. First begin by feeding your cat near the open carrier and build up to putting the food inside of the carrier. Placing treats in and around the carrier is also encouraged. Never force your cat to eat, rather place the food in or around the carrier and walk away. In time, your cat will slowly build up the courage or give into their curiosity and get the food on their own.
As soon as you can, start putting out the packing supplies so the cat can explore and familiarize themselves with the scents and change in scenery. Cats are mischievous by nature, so for each packed box make sure to immediately tape close, label and set aside to eliminate the possibility of your cat getting trapped in a box when you are not around. For anxious cats or cats that tent to react negatively to unfamiliar scents, spray the corners of the moving boxes when packing with Feliway. This is a product containing synthetic feline facial pheromones that help promote security and comfort for cats. Feliway can be found at your local pet store and online.
Make sure that your cat’s schedule stays as consistent as possible. Meal times, play times and bed times should remain consistent. If your cat is still displaying anxiousness after you kept consistent with your schedule, we recommend increasing the play time to help keep them call and prevent potential disruptive behavior.
If you are moving out of your city or neighborhood and will be switching veterinarians, you will need to request your cat’s records ahead of time. When requesting the cat’s records, this is also a good time to make sure that your cat’s records are up-to-date, the microchip contact information is correct and all shots and vaccinations are up-to-date for travel. If possible, research new vets online and make an appointment with the new vet for shortly after your move. Do not pack your cat’s records onto the moving truck, rather carry them with your own personal belongings along with important phone numbers of emergency pet clinics just in case something unexpected happens during your first few days at the new home.
Keep your cat crated and in a separate room on moving day at the old house when the actual moving process is happening. During travel to the new home and upon arrival at the new home, keep the cat crated until you are certain that there is no possible escape route for the cat to get out. The best time to let the cat out of the crate is long after the movers are gone and things have settled down. Have your cat’s items (bed, litter box and food station) all set up prior to letting the cat out of the carrier and set them up as closely as possible as they were at your old home. If you kept the litter box in the bathroom—then keep it in the bathroom again. If the food was always by the refrigerator—then place it by the refrigerator at the new place.
Help your cat adjust to the new home by placing familiar scents throughout the home. If you do not want to use Feliway, you can place a clean sock over your hand and gently rub your cat’s face to collect facial pheromones. Once complete, rub the sock on the corners of furniture or areas that would be at the cat’s nose height. Your cat will smell the familiar scents, and in time, will be more comfortable and accepting of the new home. For anxious cats, we recommend doing this several times over your first few weeks in the new home.
Cat Proof your entire home; and when you are done—Cat Proof it again! Check screens and doors, potential spaces your cat can get stuck in, and ensure that there are no poisonous hazards (did the previous owners spray or lay traps?). After you are confident with your Cat Proofing, keep a close eye on your cat in the first few weeks in the new home. We recommend that you ‘build-up’ to allowing them free-reign of the house; allowing them more area to explore every few days until they are fully adjusted and accepting of the new home.