If you’re a cat owner making plans for an upcoming move, it’s time to consider how your kitty will adjust to a new place. Moving is stressful for everyone, including our pets. Cats are known for their complexity and unique personalities, along with an independence that makes them manageable pets. With this comes an understanding that they are sensitive to change, something we humans can relate to. When a cat is in a new environment, they can adopt unfavorable habits or display personality changes that might have you wondering if you brought the wrong animal with you. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to prepare your home and your feline friend to smooth the transition and make the move a happy one for all.
Bad first impressions are tough to get over, and cats in particular hold a grudge in these scenarios. It’s not the end of the world if the first night in a new home doesn’t go smoothly, but anything that can be done to give you the best chance of a peaceful introduction between your pet and their new dwelling is worth the preparation.
Set up a room in your house
Keeping your cat calm and surrounded by as many familiar items as possible throughout your move. Designate an escape-proof room in your house where they can stay during chaotic moments like moving furniture and unpacking. Keep their food, water, litter box, and favorite toys in the room and remove items that may be a risk to them. Consider purchasing a cat calming pheromone diffuser to use during the first weeks of transition.
Set up hiding spots
Once you’re sure your new home is secure for your fur child to roam around, set up a few hiding spots. Place them in common areas where they can decompress but still be near you and are free to come and go. Choose quiet areas such as under your bed, in a closet, or something as simple as a designated cardboard box under the dining room table.
Transporting your cat to your new home
Traveling with cats is different than with dogs — you can’t just load them into a passenger area of your car. For your safety and theirs, invest in a secure carrier to keep them safe and contained during the trip. Many cats will complain loudly while in their carriers because car travel is extremely stressful for them. If you have a long distance to travel, go for a 30-minute test drive to see how they respond. If they are very uncomfortable, your vet can prescribe a cat sedative to calm everyone’s nerves during the trip.
Even if you do everything “right,” anticipate an adjustment period for your cat. Try to remember that they’re responding negatively to their environment, not to you. After sufficient time to adapt, they’ll start to feel and act like their old selves again.
Give them their space
You may see very little of kitty in the first few days or even weeks in your new home. This is completely normal. Monitor their food and litter box to reassure yourself that they’re getting what they need, but try not to chase them out of hiding or close off these spaces to force them out.
What to do before going outside for the first time
If you allow your cat outside time, preview the area first to avoid startling encounters with barking dogs or loud machinery. Use a secure leash and harness, bring along some favorite treats, and make sure they’re up to date on their shots in case they encounter feral cats.
Let them contact you
This part might feel difficult, but allow your cat to approach you. Many of us rely on our pets to help us feel calm, but with this stressful life change, they don’t understand why they’re suddenly in a strange new place. The best thing you can do for them is to be a calm, steady presence and allow them to seek out your attention on their own terms. A life with cats means there is never a dull moment. Moving homes brings out some extremes of cat personalities and you may share some interesting moments together that you’ll look back on and laugh at. Our cats are surely plotting our demise (or planning world domination, one of the two) and though it may seem like your cat will never forgive you for this rude interruption to their precious routine, they’ll soon grow used to their new surroundings. Once that happens, they’ll need to quickly resume their mask of aloofness, or else they risk losing their cat club membership entirely. About the Author Denisse Garcia is a content marketer at HireAHelper.com. When she's not working, she loves hanging out with her cat, Biscuit.