Cats generally don’t like change. They’re sensitive animals, so a major life event like moving can come as a shock. That’s why moving with a cat requires special care and thoughtfulness. If you approach the move like any other normal event, you could end up with an overly anxious cat and a particularly stressful move.
Preparing for and adapting to your cat’s anxiety during a move can prevent a lot of difficulty. Easing your cat into the move takes more effort and planning, but in the end, you’ll have a happier and more well-adjusted cat. Here are 5 tips to make your next move go as smoothly as possible for you and your cat.
1. Plan everything in advance.
Similarly, you’ll want to put out your cat’s carrier a couple weeks before the trip. This way, your cat will have enough time to get used to the carrier. Then, it’ll be a familiar, comforting place during the journey. To help your cat like the carrier, you can put treats inside or move his food bowl closer and closer to it. Give him room to explore the carrier undisturbed, and don’t force him inside. He’ll explore it when he’s ready.
2. Stick to a routine.
A move can be chaotic, throwing off a routine your cat recognizes. Since cats enjoy steady routines, this sudden change of habits can be unnerving—especially if it involves a change in feeding times. To calm your cat, try to keep the same routine throughout the move. Most importantly, remember to feed your cat at the same time. If you can maintain other routines, like bedtime and relaxation, all the better.
3. Reserve space for your cat to feel safe.
One way to prevent total panic is to set aside a room for your cat during the process of packing and unpacking. Put all of your cat’s favorite things in this special room, such as his bed, toys, food bowl and litter tray. Then, put a note on the door so no one disturbs that room. It’ll be the last room you pack, so choose the room carefully.
When you arrive at your new home, repeat the same process. Choose a room and fill it with the same furniture and items that were in the previous ‘cat room’. Your cat will then stay in that room while you move in boxes and unpack. The room will likely become the his “home base” as he explores the other rooms, allowed him to feel safe despite the massive change.
4. Give your cat time to adjust.
Your cat won’t feel completely at ease in your new home for a few weeks. During this time, try to keep your cat indoors with all windows and entrance doors closed. Otherwise, if your cat gets startled, he may run off and become disoriented, perhaps going into the road or another animal’s territory. Be patient and careful as your cat slowly adjusts.
5. Prepare for panic.
Even your best preparations can’t guarantee a peaceful transition. Your cat may still panic and try to escape during the move. For this reason, make sure your cat’s microchip and tag are up-to-date. You can also help prevent an escape by keeping the carrier closed, comfortable and secure. Put in several layers of towels, so the top layer is easy to pull off. In addition, refill your cat’s food and water from the outside, or else skip food altogether if the journey is shorter than 12 hours. After all, your cat’s stomach will probably only get upset.
The move will be a difficult experience, but it’s only temporary. As long as you keep your cat safe indoors or inside his carrier, he’ll survive the experience and eventually accept your new home as his home, too.