how to make your cat more comfortable when moving to a new home

Over the last decade, we’ve helped hundreds of clients and their families move into their new home. As a result, we’ve learned all kinds of tips and tricks for helping humans – and their pets – become more comfortable with the transitions involved in packing, moving and establishing a new life somewhere else.

Cats are some of the most sensitive creatures in most households. Often shy or wary of strangers, and decidedly safe in their daily routine, the upsets that exist around moving can cause even the most well-behaved felines to act up.

Helping Your Sensitive Feline Feel Good In Their New Home

Some of the most common behaviors that can emerge during a move, or as you’re settling into the new house, include:

  • Yowling or vocalizing without stop
  • Scratching, biting or hissing at family members or other pets
  • Soiling carpets, beds or furnishings
  • Hiding under or behind furniture and not coming out
  • Trying to escape or run away
  • Aggressive behavior

The following tips will help to prevent or minimize those stress- and fear-related behaviors so all of you can settle in more comfortably.

Make the pet carrier a “safe place” weeks or months before the move

The cat’s pet carrier can be one of your greatest allies in making a smooth transition. However, for some families, this will take a bit of work. If the carrier has only been used to take your cat(s) to the vet, they may not be big fans.

Keep the carriers out and line them with a pet bed, soft blanket, or towel. Leave the doors open and allow your cat to get used to the carrier on his/her own. Start putting your cat’s food bowl down outside the carrier close by. Once your cat acclimates to that, bring the food dish closer each day, getting to the point where s/he begins eating inside the carrier. Now the carrier is a safe and well-liked space, which means it can be the “familiar” space once you move.

Keep the daily routine as similar as possible

Try to keep your cat’s daily rhythms the same for the days leading up to, and after, your move. Things like morning or evening cuddles, treat times, playtime, etc., should remain consistent as much as possible, so your cat doesn’t feel abandoned or neglected, exacerbating any worry and stress caused by the changes.

Set the moving boxes out for a few days before you start packing

Setting the moving boxes out for a few days or more before you begin packing allows your cat to adjust to the change in scenery, which will continue to change and morph as the most continues. Odds are your cat will enjoy playing inside and around the boxes, and this will come in handy as you’re packing.

Consider anti-anxiety remedies

There are multiple anti-anxiety remedies available for pet owners. Some of them are holistic, such as pheromone-release collars, wipes, or scent diffusers. Owners with cats known to be more skittish or anxious may want to speak to the vet ahead of time and see if temporary doses of anti-anxiety medication, mild sedatives or calming supplements might be worth trying out. These are especially helpful for cats who don’t like to travel in the car.

The last thing you need is for a scared cat to run away on moving – or unloading – day. There is a lot of noise and commotion during those peak transition days, and so you want to keep your cat in a safe room. A bathroom is a smart choice as you’ve probably moved everything out already and there’s no need for your cat to be bothered. Make sure your cat has access to food, water, and a litter box. If a room isn’t available, choose a quiet corner and keep the cat contained in the carrier with favorite treats and toys once the movers or helpers arrive.

Resist the urge to open the carrier door to soothe an upset cat

It’s torture to know your beloved cat is agitated but resist the urge to open the cat door unless you are prepared for the cat to dash out. Even the most well-adjusted pets at home can be reactive escape artists in their fright, and a loose cat in the car, or who runs away right before you are supposed to head out or in the new neighborhood creates a scary situation for everyone.

Choose a safe space in the new home

Once you arrive, choose a designated “safe room” in the new home. Keep your cat secured until all the movers and/or helpers have finished. Once the house is calm, use your cat’s personalities to determine how fast or slow s/he is given free-reign. Some cats like to be freed from the outset and are curious about exploring the new environment, and others fare better staying contained in a bedroom or den where they can have all their favorite things in once space, exploring on their own after a few days of adjustment.

Slowly introduce new rooms

Once your cat seems ready, introduce him/her to new rooms gradually and while you hold or snuggle her. If your cat isn’t as touch-friendly, put down some treats around the room to encourage him/her to explore the new spaces on his/her own.

You can take a clean sock or washcloth and wipe it on your cats head, ears and nose, during pets. Then wipe your cat’s pheromones on objects or furniture at your cat’s nose level. This will make him/her feel more familiar with the new rooms or any new furnishings and will encourage your cat to rub his/her own face and head on the objects to mark it as his/her territory.

Let Us Move You

Looking for a calm, organized, and professional moving team to keep your upcoming move as stress-free and pet-happy as possible? Contact us here at Jay’s Small Moves to learn more about our a la carte and bundled moving services.