They say that moving house is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life, so imagine how it must feel for our unsuspecting feline friends. Notoriously averse to change, cats can find the whole process daunting.
However, moving house with a cat doesn’t have to be difficult, you just need to prepare your puss and be there for them every step of the way — from packing up to settling in.
How to prepare your moggy for moving day
Here are our top three preparation tips for making sure moving day is as stress free as possible for all parties, both people and pets:
1. The risk of your kitty wandering is most people’s number one worry when moving home with a cat. So, to prepare for this potential problem, it’s important to make sure your moggy’s microchip is up to date.
2. For a few weeks before moving day, keep your cat carrier out in the open. If possible, remove the door of the carrier, and make the inside enticing by including a cosy blanket and a few tasty treats. By doing this, you are establishing the carrier as a safe and familiar place that your cat is happy to enter on moving day.
3. In order to mark people and places as familiar, cats emit feline facial pheromones. Fortunately for humans moving with a moggy, synthetic versions of these pheromones exist in products such as Feliway Classic plug-in diffusers and sprays. These clever kitty scents can be used to help your cat feel settled throughout the moving process.
Advice for moving day
On the day of the move, it’s important to make sure your moggy doesn't leave the house; if they escape the old house, they may never return to the unsettling environment. If they escape the new home, they’re likely to get lost.
The best way to avoid a wandering kitty is to keep them in one room, either in the old or new house. Ensure the room is full of familiar sights and smells, and everything they need to be a comfortable cat. This includes their bed and blankets, food and water bowls, and litter trays. If your cat isn’t use to using a litter tray, it can be helpful to add some earth to the cat litter, so that the texture is more familiar to them.
Importantly, the room you keep your cat in should be big enough to allow for separated toileting, resting, and feeding areas. Also, if you have several cats, you may even need to separate them across several rooms to avoid any catty conflict. As mentioned above, if your dedicated cat room is in the new home, it’s a good idea to use a pheromone diffuser. Just be sure to plug it in at least 48 hours before moving, to allow the cat-calming pheromone to build up.
Additional advice for the journey
If the journey between your old and new home is long, only feed your cat a light breakfast — a full tummy could cause your feline to feel travel sick. While most cats won’t drink when stressed, it’s important to also provide your pussycat with access to water.
Again, spraying a feline facial pheromone onto a blanket or towel to put into the carrier can help keep your cat calm while they travel. Make sure you spray the pheromones at least 30 minutes before your cat enters the crate, so there's plenty of time for the alcohol spray to evaporate.
Settling your cat into a new home
The key to success when settling your cat into their new home is to take it slow and steady. Give them plenty of time to make themselves at home in the room you first introduced them to and then — once the furniture is in its final place and almost all the boxes are unpacked — gradually let them explore the rest of their new home.
Owners can lend a helping hand to their four-pawed pals during the familiarisation phase by spreading their cat’s own facial pheromones around the home. To do this, gently wipe a cotton wool pad repeatedly on their cheeks and then rub the cotton wool onto various vertical surfaces and corners around the home, like door frames and chair legs.
This introductory stage could take one day, or several days — it all depends on how quickly you unpack and settle in, as well as your cat’s levels of anxiety.
Letting your cat outside in a new area
The most common tip for letting your feline friend outside for the first time, is to put butter on your cat’s paws. The theory is that by buttering up your buddy’s paws, instead of darting out the door as soon as they can, they’ll pause to lick their feet first, which will give them more time to take in their new surroundings.
While this moggy myth may or may not work for your cat, the recommended advice by veterinary experts is to simply wait a few weeks, preferably four, before letting your cat outdoors. This will allow enough time for your feline to familiarise themselves with their surroundings and begin to see the new pad as their home — a place of safety to return to.
Remember, before you decide to let your cat outdoors in a new area, it’s important to make sure their microchip details have been updated.
What to do if your cat returns to your old home
Your old home has a place in your cat’s heart and so if you haven't moved far away, you may find your adventurous feline trying to return.
The potential for this problem to occur is particularly high if your kitty tends to roam far. So, if possible, warn the new tenants of your old home that they may have a furry four-pawed visitor. Ask them to resist stroking or feeding your cat, and definitely do not let them back in the house, as this hospitality will further encourage your cat to want to return home.
If this problem persists, you may need to continue keeping your cat indoors for a longer period of time until your pussycat has found their paws in their new pad.
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Watch our short video explaining how to find a pet sitter with the wonderful world of TrustedHousesitters — the kind and caring alternative to catteries and kennels.