Introducing Your Cat to a New Home

Moving to a new home can be a mix of joy and stress. As you can imagine, your pets experience a lot of emotions as well. Change is difficult for cats at any time, so the massive changes involved in moving can affect them even more. But don’t despair, there are a number of ways to make sure your kitty makes a smooth transition to your new home.

Why does moving stress cats out?

Before highlighting how to help, it helps to understand what’s going on with your cat during a move. Such a big upset in their environment can be overwhelming. You have to remember that cats are highly sensitive animals with the finely honed senses of a predator. For one, cats have 14 times the sense of smell that humans do!

A cat’s sense of hearing is also even more sensitive than dogs, and their visual acuity even greater. This means that the unfamiliar smells of a new house, the loud bangs of a dropped box, and the confusion of packed household items can be frightening. Keep this in mind when moving with your cats, and be patient with them as they transition.

Stress in cats: what to look for

Many people can find the way cats act mysterious and not know what behaviors show that their cat is stressed. Of course hissing and other aggressive behavior is obviously concerning, but more subtle signs of stress include hiding, urination in new areas, and excessive grooming. Cat owners should be most concerned if their cat stops eating or drinking, as this can be dangerous.

Ways to Help Your Cats Move

Don’t worry, you’re not doomed to dealing with a stressed cat on top of moving. With love and a little insight into cat behavior, you can make the moving process relatively stress-free for your feline companion. There’s several methods backed by science that can help your cats transition to a new home easily.

Maintain your routine

Though cat personalities differ, all cats are territorial animals. This means that they are most comfortable in a certain area, which makes them ideal home pets. Since they prefer a stable environment, any sudden changes to their domestic environment can be difficult. Leading up to the move, try to maintain the same feeding and play schedule as you always have, with perhaps some added treats or cuddles. You want to keep your cat calm before the move so that they can make a smoother transition.

Keep their comfort in mind

Cats have a reputation of being all about the comforts of a warm, snug place to sleep, but this actually has a lot to do with their evolution. To stay invisible from predators, wild cats would curl up in bushes or hollows in the ground, letting their coats blend in with leaves. Domestic cats display this same behavior when they curl up in a tight spot under some furniture or in a box. Help your cat feel safe by giving them a small moving box, a warm bed, or any place to curl up and relax. Since they need a higher temperature than we do to maintain their body heat, make sure they get a warm spot too.

Consider Natural Stress Remedies

There are also a few different types of stress remedies for cats, including herbal and pheromone therapies. Herbs that have calming effects on most cats include valerian, catnip, and chamomile. Herbal remedies for pets are available in tinctures to add to your cat’s water or as dried herbs for them to eat. Pheromone therapies work by scent, and are available in a variety of products from collars to sprays. As with any type of herbal remedy or medication for humans, reactions to these products vary between animals.

Your Moving Day Cat Routine

Here’s a step by step guide to the moving process with your cat, developed by vets at the ASPCA.

1. Update your cat’s collar

If your pet has a chip or a collar, make sure all your contact information is up to date with your correct phone number and new address. Nobody wants to think about it, but this can help if your cat somehow gets free during the moving process.

2. Safe room in old house

To insulate your cat against the scary hustle and bustle of moving, keep them confined into one relatively quiet room while you load up your belongings. Put their litter box, food, open cat carrier, and a bed or other familiar object in the room to help them feel secure.

3. Use a proper pet carrier

When it comes time to move your cat, always use a proper pet carrier. You may want to open the door to calm them, but please don’t. A scared cat can dash out of the carrier and get stuck inside the car. Only open the pet carrier in a closed room in the new house.

4. Safe room in new house

In the new house, set up the same kind of room that you did in the old house, meaning a small room with the carrier, food, litter box, and your cats favorite things

5. Let your cat explore

It’s best to let the cat get used to its new surroundings a little at a time, so leave them in their room for the first few days. Once they seem comfortable, you can let them into the rest of the house. Before you let kitty explore, secure windows and window screens, block any holes in walls or fences, and generally pet-proof your new place.

Moving with your cat can go smoothly

With these tips and tricks, you can move from one house to another without putting your cat companion through too much stress. The key is to remember that your cat is sensitive to all the hustle and bustle of a move, so you should be patient with them. Staying calm while handling them and spending time with them will set them at ease, and getting some relaxed time with your cat can also help relieve your stress as well.

References

http://www.pawschicago.org/news-resources/all-about-cats/kitty-basics/cat-senses/
https://www.spcacincinnati.org/pages/animal-resources/media/Cat.StressRelief.2.9.15-75.pdf
https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/adoption/introducing-new-pet-your-household