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  • Women sitting on the couch with cat

    Moving House With a Cat

September 2018

Concerned that your feline friend might not cope with moving house? There are things you can do to ease their fears and make the transition into a new home as purr-fect as possible.

Cats can get anxious when you pull them out of familiar territory and take them somewhere new and unfamiliar. Knowing that they are creatures of habit, what can you do to make your cat more comfortable when you move house? How can you minimise its stress levels and help it settle into the new home?

Here, we look at tips for easing the transition so that your feline friend will be purring with contentment in no time.

Looking after your cat before and during a move

As the boxes start to pile up (along with your stress levels), most cats will sense that things are changing. Give them plenty of cuddles and reassurance and keep an eye on their wellbeing. Disinterest in food or more toileting accidents around the home may be signs that they are distressed.

Before the big day of the move, introduce a cat carrier. Pop an old towel or t-shirt with a familiar scent in it, so your cat feels comfortable inside – particularly if you are moving a fair distance and will be in the car for a while.

Some people decide to take their cat to a cattery or trusted friend as their move approaches, feeling that this option may be less stressful than watching a house they know and feel safe in get packed up around them.

When you arrive at the new home with your cat

Patience is key when you introduce your cat to a new home. It takes time for them to adjust and if you take things too quickly then there is the risk that your cat will run away or develop unwanted behaviours.

Here are some steps you can take to ease the transition for your cat:

  1. Set up a ‘safe room’ before your cat arrives
    Choose one room in your house. The idea is to leave your cat in this room for at least a few days, giving them one small space to settle into before exploring the whole house. Make sure it’s well ventilated and kitted out with all the things your cat needs – like food, water, a litter tray or two and a scratching post.

  2. Try to arrive after removalists have left
    Ideally, arrive at your new home when it’s relatively quiet. You don’t want strangers stomping around scaring your cat!

  3. Take your cat straight to the ‘safe room’
    Your cat will take their time exploring this new environment. They may feel scared at times and want to hide somewhere (under a box, in a cupboard, etc). A golden rule when cats are hiding is to let them hide. Don’t drag them out of their hiding spot.

  4. A few days later, it’s time to explore indoors
    You’ll know when it’s time to let your cat out of its safe room. When he or she is happily approaching you when you enter the room then it may be time to broaden their horizons. Remember, most cats will take their time exploring their new territory – and will look like a cat on the prowl as they do. Let them explore at their own pace.

  5. Got an outdoor cat? Take it slow
    How long to keep a cat inside after moving house? Settle them into their safe room first. Then, when they are looking comfortable inside, you can slowly introduce them to their outside environment. You’ll need to supervise your cat when it first goes outside – otherwise they run the risk of getting lost or running away.

Signs that your cat is still unsettled

Your cat will very likely show some uncharacteristic behaviour before, during or after the move. However if any of these things continue or your cat is really stressed from moving house, it might be time for a quick trip to your local vet to have a chat about their behaviour and wellbeing:

  • Door-barging, which is when a cat pushes past you to get through a door first
  • Clawing at doors and windows
  • Toileting accidents
  • Hiding all of the time

The final word

Be patient when introducing your cat to a new environment. It will take them a while to settle in – but if you expose them gradually to their new home, it will be a lot less stressful for all involved.

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