Moving house can be one of the most hectic times in your life. The days leading up to, and immediately after, your move can be stressful for everyone in the family including your cat. All your cat has known and become familiar with, in terms of household objects and smells, changes dramatically and it is not surprising that our four-legged friends can become stressed.
Before the Move
- Update your cat’s microchip information to ensure a speedy reunion with your cat should they escape or get lost. In addition have an updated collar tag with your new details at the ready.
- Inform your pet insurance provider of your new address.
- If you are moving a fair distance, look up your nearest Vetsure vet practice. Vetsure vets allow you to register your cat online so you can do this prior to your move. Note down their telephone number (just in case)!
- If your cat doesn’t travel well in a cat carrier in the car try to get them used to it in advance by starting off with short trips.
- If your cat suffers from car sickness there are treatments that can be prescribed by your vet to help alleviate the symptoms.
- Buy a new toy to keep your cat entertained once you arrive in your new house.
- You may wish to consider placing your cat in a cattery or with a friend or family member for the duration of the move, collecting them when everything is unpacked and order is restored.
- If you intend putting your cat in a cattery, their vaccinations and worming will need to be up to date – contact your vet if you are unsure.
- There are anxiety-reducing drops and sprays and also diffusers that you can start to use a few weeks before you move with your cat. Speak to your vet to get advice and to pick up the appropriate products.
- If you are not putting your friend in a cattery then dedicate one member of the family to be solely responsible for your cat on the day of the move.
- Try to keep their routine the same e.g. feed them (however: do not feed them immediately before travelling) and at the same time on the day of the move.
- If it is safe to do so – put your cat in one room with all doors and windows closed early on the day of the move, so that you know your cat is safe. Let everyone know which room the cat is in – the front door will be left open so keep them from straying!
- Ensure your cat is safely in a cat carrier whilst travelling and make sure the car is well ventilated.
- If you are travelling a long distance make sure you take plenty of breaks for your cat to have some water.
After the Move
- Keep your cat in a carrier on arrival until one room in the new house is available to become a ‘safe area’ for your cat. Put their bed, scratching post, toys and litter tray in this room so they can have the comfort of familiar scents – don’t take the move as an opportunity to wash their bed and/or toys.
- Give them a new activity toy to keep them entertained in their new surroundings.
- For particularly quiet or nervous cats, you can help them settle in by gently rubbing a soft cotton cloth around your cat’s face to pick up their ’personal scent’ and dab this around the room at their nose level. When they are feeling confident enough they will start rubbing their heads and bodies on furniture and walls which will increase feelings of security.
- Moving home can be traumatic for an indoor cat who may not be used to dealing with changes in the environment in the same way that an outdoor cat might. Slow, careful introductions, one room at a time, will help them settle.
- Settle back in the same routine when you’re in your new home so your cat starts to feel at ease.
For Outside Cats
- You MUST make sure their collar and microchip information is up-to-date to safe guard against losing your cat.
- Make sure your cat is fully settled into your new home before letting them go outside. Each character is different so there is no set time limit – but you shouldn’t be thinking of letting them out before spending at least two weeks in the house. Of course there are always exceptions, confident cats may require a little less time and could become agitated being kept inside. You know your cat better than anyone, so follow their lead.
- The first day you give them access outside it might be a good idea to sprinkle their used cat litter around the perimeter of your garden to make them feel more comfortable.
- When you let them out for the first time do it before feeding them so they have a strong incentive to come inside – it might be a good idea in the first few weeks in the house to ring a bell (or similar) before feeding your cat so they associate the bell with being fed, that way when you let them out they are more likely to come in for food when you ring the bell.
- For the first few times they go outside it might be a good idea to do so in short bursts (if possible) gradually building up their confidence.
- If you haven’t moved far, your cat might return to your previous home – you could write to the new occupants complete with a photograph of your cat. Explaining that, should your friend stray, they shouldn’t feed or pet your cat but instead give you a call. Equally, if you have moved far away you might like to do the same for your new neighbours in case your cat gets lost and confused.
Some cats need space whereas some like extra attention – it is best to follow your friend’s lead, but should you become concerned about your beloved pet, speak to your vet who may be able to discuss medical options to help ease the stress for your cat over this time.
Cats are so in tune with their owner’s feelings they often pick up on our moods, therefore, try to keep calm yourself throughout the whole process.
Download your Moving House: Cat “to do” List