Moving house with cats: how to keep them happy and safe when relocating

Moving home with your cat? Sidestep stress with these helpful tips from Cats Protection

Moving house with cats: how to keep them happy and safe when moving
Published: March 21, 2022 at 10:25 am
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Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned pro, moving home is a big deal. There are boxes to pack, final bills to pay, moving vans to sort, and endless lists to check off. With so much to organise it can be easy to forget how much moving house can impact your cat. The UK’s biggest feline charity, Cats Protection, shares its top tips for making sure your move is paw-fect for all members of the family.

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How to reduce your cat's stress 

Planning what to do with your cat on moving day is essential. You can consider two options; either take them with you on the day or book them into a cattery in advance. Every situation is different so it’s important to think about which option works best for you and your cat. If you do decide to go down the cattery route, make sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date before moving, and be sure to book in advance.

Taking your cat with you requires more planning, but you can follow these simple steps to make the process easier:

  • Get your cat comfortable with their cat carrier in advance, so there is no additional stress on the day. Cats Protection provides handy guides on how to do this, you can check them out here.
  • Allocate a room in your current house that can be cleared of furniture a week before your move.
  • Once the room is ready, start getting your cat used to their new safe space. Alongside putting a sleeping place, litter tray, cat carrier, and blanket into the room, you can also feed your cat here to help them become familiar with this new space.
  • On the evening before your move, place their scratching post, toys, and water bowl into the room and shut them in to make sure they don’t go missing. It is also worth ensuring your cat is microchipped so if they do make a run for it, they can be scanned and returned to you - remember to update your microchip address on the central database when you move.
  • Some cats may benefit from a pheromone diffuser or spray. The scent helps to create a reassuring environment and may help to reduce stress.

Be organised on moving day

If you are taking your cat to a cattery, ensure you do this the day before you move, it will make the day less chaotic and stressful for you both. If you are keeping your cat with you, make sure to shut them in their room with food, fresh water, and a clean litter tray. If your cat is prone to travel sickness, feed them early so you can withhold food for three to four hours before the journey.

When you are ready to leave, you can put your cat into their carrier and load them into the car along with all their belongings. Your cat may be less anxious if the carrier is sprayed with synthetic facial pheromones a few minutes before you place them in there.

How do you settle your cat in its new home?

Once you have arrived at your new home, take your cat to a secure room with all its familiar bits and pieces. You might also like to give them something that smells of you, like an unwashed item of clothing, to help them settle. Provide them with something to eat, a box to hide in, and make sure they have a litter tray. Then close the door and leave your cat alone for a while – tell any removal staff and the rest of the family which room your cat is in, so they don’t disturb them or accidentally let them out.

How can I help my cat get used to its new home?

It’s a good idea to keep your cat in their new room for a few days; it can be overwhelming for them to have access to the whole of the house straight away. Most cats will let you know when they are ready to venture further. When you do let them see the rest of the house, make sure that all doors, windows, and cat flaps are closed – they won’t be ready to explore outside yet. Keep the door open to their ‘safe room’ in case they feel the need to retreat.

How soon can I let my cat out after moving?

It’s important that your cat feels relaxed and secure in their new house before allowing them to prowl around outside. Some cats go missing shortly after moving house because owners have let them go outside too soon. Cats should be kept indoors for at least three weeks to allow them time to feel safe in the new house and build up a scent profile to help them find their way back. During this initial settling period your cat may become frustrated with being cooped up, so you’ll need to provide them with plenty of indoor enrichment, such as puzzle feeders and toys.

Consider letting them out for the first time just before mealtime so you can entice your hungry cat back home with their favourite food. When first letting them out, make sure to open the door and step outside to show your cat there’s nothing to fear, don’t be tempted to carry them outside, let them make their own decision. Once they are outside, leave your front door open so they can run back inside if they feel insecure. Gradually build up the time they are outside until you are confident, they can come and go as they please.

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Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity - to find more tips from the charity about moving with your cat, visit: Help and Advice for Moving Home With Your Cat | Cats Protection

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