Moving with cats can be an extremely stressful life event, for both you and your fury friends. For cats in particular, spending their days in the same familiar environment they are used to is what keeps them happiest. Cats, by nature are change averse. They can be very resistant and frightened of changes in routine or new environments. Though we love to keep our cats happy, sometimes moving is necessary. In order to ensure we take care of our pets in the best way possible, it’s good practice to assess their individual temperament and potential for anxiety based on what you have experienced so far. This way, you can tailor the move and the activities leading up to and after the move to make the transition as easy as possible for your furry friends.
Preparing Your Cat For The Move
To make sure both you and your cat are prepared for your upcoming move, we’ve put together some tips and tricks to get you from planning your move to the move itself, and even help you and your cat to settle in together after. The end goal is to keep your cat calm and comfortable, while mitigating the possibility of aggressive behaviour, accidents, escapes or excessive meowing as a result of stress from the move.
Before The Move
Long before the moving truck arrives, it is advisable to get your cat prepared for the upcoming move. Since you are doing this in the environment they are already comfortable in, they will hopefully show curiosity and interest in the new items being introduced to their environment. If possible, as you introduce these new items, keep other things as normal and routine as possible. Like dogs and even humans, cats thrive on routine. Keeping meals at their regular time, making time to play and cuddle your kitty and giving them the same attention and affection they are used to will help them feel secure throughout the moving process. Even on moving day, keeping things as calm and familiar as possible throughout the process is very important. The sudden appearance of new people and moving materials, along with the disappearance of favourite furniture or objects, can cause stress for cats. Ideally your cat is comfortable with the boxes and carrier long before they need to be used or moved.
When it comes to the carrier, in order to get your cat out of your current residence and into the new one, they will need to spend a fair amount of time residing in it on moving day. As such, you want to make the space as comfortable and familiar to your cat ahead of time to avoid unnecessary stress. If you and your cat have some experience with the carrier from vet visits or other road trips you should have a good idea of what your cat’s opinion of the carrier is. If it’s one of your first experiences using the carrier, this is a great opportunity to get both you and your cat familiar with it. Choose a carrier that is well-secured, has a safe design ideal for travel, and of course cozy with familiar smells and objects.
As a suggestion, leaving the carrier out for your cat to explore with the door wide open in a room they like to spend time in should help get them a little more comfortable with the space. Make it a place they want to spend time with their favourite toys or treats inside of it or around it. If your cat is still showing little interest in the carrier, it may help to feed them their regular food close to it. Slowly, move the food to the mouth of the carrier and then right inside so they are forced to enter. Eventually you want your cat to associate the carrier with positive things, not fear or stress. Hopefully over time, the carrier will encourage the cat to seek refuge there as packing and moving activities become more hectic.
As for cardboard moving boxes, many cats actually love playing inside and around them. Allow your cat to explore a few boxes before you need to pack them up. If your cat happens to be nervous around them, similar to what you did with the carrier – play with their toys in and around the carrier, offer treats and food close to the boxes to begin associating them with positive things as opposed to fear or stress. Organic catnip spray may also be helpful if there is still resistance in your cats interest or comfort level around the boxes. Use it on a box or two that you don’t intend to use in order to help build that positive association.
If you are still concerned about your cats potential ability to handle the stress of the move, your vet may be able to help with some medical intervention in the form of anti anxiety medications, supplements, diets or calming aids. Looking at a holistic view in managing your cats anxiety will render the best long term results.
Some additional considerations ahead of move in day include ensuring your cat’s ID collar and micro chip information is up to date with current address and phone numbers. In case your cat gets lost or escapes during the move, you want to ensure they can easily be brought back home.
Caring For Your Cat During The Move
On moving day, before placing your cat in the carrier, leaving them out to roam in an empty bedroom with a securely closed door will keep them safe and contained. The cat bed, litter tray, food, water and carrier can all be placed in this room with the cat. Be careful with offering too much food to your pet before physically moving them as if they are not used to traveling, they could potentially suffer from motion sickness. If your cat is not super fond of the carrier, spraying it with synthetic hormones (from your vet) may be something to consider about an hour prior to placing your cat inside of it.
Ensure the movers are aware of the cats location so they aren’t accidentally let out during the move (a note on the door may be best). Once all of the furniture and boxes have been removed from the house, enter the room and help your cat into its carrier and pack up the other items to be transported. Take your cat over to the new home in your car so you can ensure they are kept safe, ideally securing the carrier into a seat with a seatbelt. If the journey is a long one, make sure to consider proper ventilation for the carrier and possibly a food and bathroom break. It’s best to keep your cat in the carrier while in transit.
Once you’ve arrived at the new home, offer your cat a safe and secure room with some food and water as quickly as possible. Tuck away any electrical cords or plugs where your cat might get stuck or hurt themselves. You want to make sure they don’t get hurt or lost, so waiting until the move has been completed to allow them to explore is very important. Like you did in your old home, set your cat up with their familiar items such as toys, their bed, litter box, the carrier if they regard it as a safe space and some treats so that they have comforting scents around them. Scatter their items around the room to encourage them to explore while they’re in there and keep the door firmly shut until the move is complete. If there are still lots of people loading boxes into the new home, placing a note on the door will prevent any unintentional accidents.
Helping Your Cat Settle In After The Move
The worst is over! Now your objective is just to help your cat ease into the new home as seamlessly as possible. Before any exploring is possible, it is imperative to give your new home a good deep clean. This is especially important if there were other cats or animals living in the house prior to you moving in. Cats can sense a lot from another animal’s scent and depending on the previous animal, smells can result in spraying, stress or anxiety induced behaviour. Using a professional carpet cleaner and ensuring you wipe down all floors and surfaces with a strong cleaning agent should help to remove any unfamiliar smells.
Once you’re settled and the house is clean, your cat can be allowed to investigate the rest of the house one room at a time – of course as long as you’ve remembered to secure windows and doors. It’s important that you stay calm and collected throughout the transition so your cat can pick up on that body language. Be careful about tight spaces in the kitchen or laundry room especially with nervous cats so they don’t get caught in a tight or dangerous space.
Depending on the stress level of your cat, introducing them to the whole house at once may be too overwhelming. Creating a safe space for your cat, perhaps the room you had first introduced them too upon moving in may help them to get more comfortable and get used to where things are located – most importantly their litter box and food. You should ensure you’ve set up a permanent spot for the litter box and continue to introduce your cat to the space. If possible, having it as close to their safe space as possible or offering a secondary litter box in their safe space will help to prevent unnecessary accidents as the cat gets acclimated to its surroundings. Spend as much time as you can with your cat in their familiar space, playing with your cat and doing regular activities. Over time, curiosity and comfort will settle in and your curious kitty will be exploring their new domain.
If after a few weeks your cat still seems like they haven’t adjusted, it’s best to talk to your vet about additional techniques and options to help make the transition easier. Some options may include using a cloth to absorb the cats scent with a cotton cloth and then spreading that around doorways, walls and furniture to offer some comfort throughout the house.
It’s very important to take time and consider how your move will effect your cat long before moving day. If the proper steps are taken before moving day, during the move and once you’ve moved into your new home, your cat should arrive in their new home ready to explore.
Being aware of the potential stressors and planning ahead are key to any successful move. Contact us today at Bradford Moving for help with your next move.