Moving is already stressful. Throwing a cat into the boxed-up, laborious mix can make it even tougher. Moving with a cat is hard — there’s no denying that — but there are definitely tips that can help ease the process for your feline friend.
Cats are territorial, meaning leaving their home can be scary and confusing. They might also be overwhelmed by a new home they haven’t yet claimed as their own. Luckily there are ways to make the move a lot smoother, ensuring that your cat won’t stay hiding under the bed for long.
What to Expect When Moving With a Cat
To put it simply: Moving to a new home might not be easy for your cat. Some cats don’t mind moving and might even enjoy the new territory to explore. All cats are different. But it’s always smart to take the right precautions just in case your cat ends up distressed and scared.
Some cats are more adaptable than others. But the most common emotions your cat will feel are:
The majority of cats will show signs of these emotions in various ways, including vomiting, using the bathroom outside of the litter box, hiding, lashing out if someone comes near, and refusing to eat.
If you notice any of those upsetting reactions when moving, don’t be alarmed. While you should keep a close eye on your cat’s changing behavior, be aware that your cat will need time to get used to the new home.
The following sections in this article will give you some tips to ensure your cat’s move goes smoothly and they recover from the change quickly.
How Does Moving Affect Cats?
Cats are creatures of habit. They love a good routine! Waking up in the morning, meowing at you for food, lounging on the cat tree by the window, watching the birds and the neighbors—these are all fundamental parts of your cat’s day. And they look forward to these activities!
One of the biggest sources of routine for cats is their home. Cats are territorial animals that become very attached to where they live. They learn the ins and outs of your home, finding their favorite spots.
So it can be very disruptive and shocking for cats when they are taken away from their territory and thrown into a whole new routine. That’s why it’s vital not only to take the right steps to move your cat but prepare them for all the big changes ahead.
Once you complete the move, your cat will likely go through a period of adjustment. They new to re-establish their routines and get acquainted with the new house. Be patient while your cat finds its new normal!
Preparing to Move Your Cat Before You Relocate
Moving cats properly starts before the move itself. You’ll want to do a few things to prepare your cat to make the change less sudden. One way to make the transition feel less hurried is to visit the new home with your cat a few times before the actual move.
As it gets closer to the move, prepare the home for the cat’s arrival. Place some feline diffusers in the different rooms, which will release pheromones that make a cat feel safe and secure. This will cut down on destructive behavior, including spraying and scratching.
Put familiar scents throughout the house as well. This can include a well-used cat bed, a toy they love, or a scratching post (if you have one to spare).
When the cat visits the location, they will be nervous at first. They might not even leave the crate—and if they do, they might hide in a corner. But the exposure will get them used to the location, especially if it smells familiar.
Deep Clean Your New Place
As territorial creatures, cats have a strong sense of smell—and they don’t like the smell of cats and dogs they don’t know. As the moving day grows near, it’s time to head to the new place (alone this time) and make sure it’s clean.
Steam clean the carpets and wipe down surfaces to eliminate the smell of previous feline tenants. This will ensure your cat doesn’t feel overwhelmed, scared, or aggressive when they visit the home.
Your cat might start rubbing on different walls and doors, claiming the territory as their own. This will make them feel more confident when the move finally happens. They will smell their own scent from the previous visits and feel more secure about the new territory.
Crate Training & Keeping Your Cat Secure
Cats usually hate crates. They associate them with being trapped, going on long car rides, and visiting the vet. Still, it’s essential to get them used to their crate before the move, so it doesn’t start with them being stuffed into a place that scares them. Follow these steps:
- Put the crate in your home as if it’s just a part of the decor. Your cat will get used to its presence if it’s out all the time (instead of only when something scary is about to happen).
- Place a blanket inside the crate that smells like your cat. This should be a blanket they’ve used before.
- Whenever your cat touches, rubs, or goes inside the crate, use a clicker. Immediately follow this with a treat. They will start to associate crate interaction with getting tasty snacks.
- When your cat is finally used to the crate — and willingly goes inside — try closing it. Talk to them in a calm, sweet voice while they are inside. After a few moments, let them out and give them a treat.
- Repeat this training for a few weeks leading up to the move
How to Move with a Cat
Once your cat is better prepared for the move, it’s time for the big change itself. Remember to have patience and be calm throughout the process, making sure your cat is as comfortable as it can be before, during, and after the move.
Keep Your Routine
It’s very important to maintain your cat’s routine before the move. You might feel overwhelmed and distracted by the boxes everywhere, but make a special effort to make your cat’s week feel as mundane as ever.
If you feed them in the morning, keep providing them food at the same time. When you hang out on the couch after work, be sure to still spend some time together on the sofa. If you play with them before bedtime, make sure you’re still throwing their toys around and interacting with them during that same timeframe.
This sense of normalcy will keep your cat from becoming stressed as you continue to box up the family’s belongings and call moving companies. Continue their routine during the move itself whenever possible at the new home, too. They might need some space at first, but keep things consistent as often as you can.
Give Your Cat Its Own Space
When you first move, your cat might be overwhelmed by the new territory. It’s a good idea to give your cat one specific space to get used to initially. Try the bathroom or wherever you will have their litter box going forward. Put their litter box in that room, as well as their food and water bowls, crate, and toys. It’s best if the room has a door.
With the door shut, your cat will feel safer in a smaller space. They will probably start off hiding in a corner or behind the toilet. But they will slowly start to explore the area, sniffing the perimeter and checking out their litter box and food.
This will also keep them away from the hustle and bustle of the moving process. Once the new home is a bit more organized and you can sense that your cat is not terrified, open the bathroom door. Let them come out and start exploring on their own time and at their own pace.
Feed Them in Small Portions
Cats are already picky eaters, but stress can really kick it up a notch. Some cats will experience an irritated or upset stomach. It’s important to keep their daily food schedule and continue feeding them the same brand upon the move. This will give them a sense of routine and ensure they don’t become sick.
It’s also essential to give them smaller portions in the first few days. Feed them at the same time, but provide them with a bit less than you usually would. This will ensure your cat doesn’t spit up a large amount of their food if they overheat while under stress.
Try CBD for Cats
On top of using diffusers, CBD can be a great, natural way to help your cat feel relaxed and soothed. CBD is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid found in hemp that won’t get your cat high.
Instead, CBD interacts with the receptors in your cat’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), promoting a positive mental state and overall well-being.
HolistaPets’ CBD cat products are vegan, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Try giving them some CBD cat treats or drop some CBD oil on their cat food. Our full-spectrum CBD oil makes your cat more content and calm.
Avoid Leaving Your Cat in Hot Cars for Extended Periods
From 2018-2019, 78 pets suffered heatstroke and died in a hot car. It’s vital never to leave your cat in the car for long periods, even if the weather isn’t warm.
If you’re traveling long distances in your car for the move, be sure to turn up the A/C and roll down the windows so your cat doesn’t overheat. Take plenty of breaks to let your pet out of the vehicle for fresh air.
Give Them a Chance to Play in the Moving Boxes
Studies have proven that cats love boxes, especially ones made of cardboard. Research supports that cats with boxes in the home are happier than those without them. Even big cats have shown their love for cardboard boxes!
For many cats, boxes are a source of comfort. They feel safe and secure when they are within the box, possibly even hidden.
Moving luckily involves a LOT of cardboard boxes. Save a few — including small ones and bigger ones — after the contents are emptied and put away. Leave them throughout the new home so your cat has some to hide and play in no matter where they are. This will make them feel more secure during such a big change.
Let Your Cat Take the Lead
Cats are intelligent creatures who don’t really like to be told what to do. Let your cat experience the new home at their own pace after the move. Some cats may stay inside the bathroom for days. Others may be scratching at the door, dying to come out and explore the home.
Don’t force your cat to leave the bathroom if they are not ready. Instead, take some time to sit in the room with them and talk to them. Pet them if they will let you. Offer them some treats.
If your cat wants to come out, don’t leave them meowing desperately from the closed-off room. Once most of the moving is over with, allow them to come out and explore. If that involves them hiding under the bed for an entire day, let them. They will come out when they are ready, but you can always sit by the bed and comfort them if they don’t seem to mind.
Final Thoughts – Moving With a Cat
While there are some cats who will immediately roll around on your new home’s carpet or start digging around in the cabinets right away, many cats find moving overwhelming, scary, and stressful. But these feelings can be minimized with the right preparation and proper moving procedures.
Get your cat used to the crate as well as the new territory before the move-in date. Rid the home of any unfamiliar smells, like previous cats. Then give them space where they can feel safe when the move finally happens. Let your cat come out on their own time when they feel comfortable.
Moving your cat can be tough, but it’s not impossible. With the right preparation and procedures, your cat will be lounging on the cat tree and surveying its new domain in no time.