Most cats are comfortable with familiar spaces and prefer spending time in environments they’re used to. Unfortunately, that can make moving a long distance with your feline friend feel like a challenge.
It doesn’t have to be.
When moving with a cat, your goal should be to minimize stress and anxiety and provide a safe and comfortable experience for them. Cats tend to like routine, so finding ways to move securely without disrupting that routine too much is important. Let’s take a look at a few tips you can use to move somewhere new with your cat, and help them get used to their new home.
1. Plan Ahead
To keep your cat’s routine as normal as possible, planning and preparing for the day of the move in advance is crucial. Chances are, you’ve already got plenty of other things on your plate. You might be dealing with a moving company, closing paperwork from a realtor, or just making sure you have everything you need for that final big day.
To help yourself and your cat, consider creating a checklist (or multiple checklists) for your move. Your cat might get stressed by sudden changes to their environment, like movers coming in and out or items they’re used to suddenly “disappearing.”
You can help to alleviate some of that stress by scheduling a familiar pet sitter for them. Hiring someone they know, or someone who will pay attention to them will keep them distracted and happy, even if there’s chaos going on in other rooms as you get ready for the move.
Your checklist should also include leaving out your cat’s carrier for a few days – or weeks – before the move. This is especially important if they’re not a fan of the carrier. It will get them used to the enclosed space and make it seem like less of a threat or something that will cause stress.
2. Prepare Your Pet for the Drive
Once you have everything packed up in boxes and your furniture in trucks, it’s time to hit the road! However, there are some precautions you should take with your four-legged friend before putting them in the car.
Ideally, they’ve gotten used to the carrier because it’s the safest place for them to be while traveling. The last thing you want is for your cat to be climbing all over the seats or under your feet while you’re driving or risk them jumping out of the car on a pit stop to your new place.
To prepare your cat before you head out on your long trip, consider some of the following ideas:
- Put a familiar toy or blanket in their carrier
- Make sure they’re healthy enough to travel
- Talk to their veterinarian about pheromones or sedatives
- Feed your cat before you leave
- Have a “cat kit” ready to go in the car
It’s also a good idea to plan ahead when it comes to your drive times. Studies have shown there are more dangerous times to drive each day than others. For example, car crash deaths are over 85% higher from 4:00 pm to 6:59 pm (the after-work rush). Consider heading out in the morning so you can get to your destination before that rush hits. While accidents can happen at any time, prioritizing the safety of yourself and your pet is important, and driving during safer, quieter times will give you one less thing to stress over.
You know your cat and its personality better than anyone. Don’t be afraid to take extra precautionary steps, if needed, to ensure they are safe and comfortable on the drive, especially if they’re not used to traveling long distances.
3. Introduce Your Cat to Your New Home
It can take several weeks for a cat to become fully comfortable in a new space. Don’t get discouraged if they don’t seem to like everything right away, or even if they want to be by themselves for a while. You can make the experience easier for them using a few practical tips, including:
- Giving them a single room to settle in until they get used to the “smell” of the home
- Offering plenty of safe places to hide
- Making sure they can’t escape from the house
- Setting up their space with familiar things, as well as everything they need
- Sit with them as they explore their environment
Don’t try to force your cat out of their carrier or even a specific room if that’s where they want to be. Cats are den animals and tend to feel safest in enclosed spaces. Until they start to get comfortable with their surroundings, they might hide more than usual. That’s perfectly normal. Be patient, make sure they have everything they need to feel comfortable, and try to get back into your normal routine with them as quickly as possible. When you do that, you’ll find it won’t take long for them to start to emerge more often, until they’re just as comfortable with the new space as your old home.
Whether you’re heading one state over or all the way across the country, a long-distance move with your cat doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Keep these tips in mind to make the experience a positive one for everyone, and enjoy your new home with your greatest furry companion.
About the Author
Ainsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about how business and professionalism intersect with the personal, social, and technological needs of today. She is frequently lost in a good book.