Whether you have had cats your whole life or have a brand new addition to the family, moving & transitioning them to a new space will be a challenge. One of the reasons we love cats is their independence; one of the biggest hurdles of having a cat is also their independence. They are very territorial animals so a new home means new smells & sounds, new corners & routines that may throw them off balance. Although we can’t eliminate the inherent moving anxieties for our fur balls, we can help ease the transition on them & ourselves in a number of ways.
If you are planning to move in the near future & (like me) have a feline friend. I have created this checklist to help make sure you’ve covered all your bases! The first section only applies if you will be moving far away & require plane travel or pet accommodations.
Before The Move
The moving process begins weeks or months prior to move date. While we are likely focusing on packing our belongings, purging non-necessities, hiring contractors to paint our new bedrooms or add in that coat closet to the front hall before moving in, we need to add our feline friends to the list of things to address before move day. As cat parents, it is impossible to eliminate all the stressors that arise during the moving process. Cats are nervous animals & their territorial nature makes the displacement when moving difficult for them to embrace. However, there are a number of things we can do before moving to help ease the process.
Put out moving boxes a few days or weeks prior to the move date. This will help your cat become aquainted with their presence. Introducing large items like moving boxes on the day of the move will increase your cats anxiety making the transition more difficult for them. By introducing the boxes early, your cat will have time to sniff around & play with them, accepting them as a new object in their territory before the added commotion of the move begins.
I’m one of the lucky few who brings out the carrier & my cat walks right in. He loves small spaces & never seems to associate the carrier with an anticipated car ride (that part he despises). If your cat is in the majority & you have a difficult time getting him or her in the carrier, this is an important step before moving. Keep your cat in a confined space like the basement or a bedroom for a few hours with the carrier open. Put a cozy blanket & a few treats inside, then leave. Allow your cat some one-on-one time with their transportation. Whether this helps eliminate the pain of confinement during the drive really depends on the cat, but it’s worth a shot! Even if it makes getting your cat in the carrier slightly easier, I’ll take that as a win!
Lots of Love
Regardless of how well prepared we are in acquainting our cats with their surroundings prior to a move, the actual move will always cause some level of stress or anxiety. Give your cat lots of love & attention in the few days leading up to moving day. There will be a lot going on, last minute items you may have forgotten & are trying to take care of or new complications that have presented themselves. Regardless, find a few minutes to sit down in a quiet place with your cat for some quality time.
Feliway For Cats
Feliway is a clinically proven & veterinarian recommended room diffuser or spray that helps with cat anxiety.
There are two versions:
Feliway Classic • helps reduce anxiety at home
Feliway Friends • helps your cat socialize better with other cats
Both are great solutions to everyday anxiety, but especially important to consider when there are added stressors such as moving or the introduction or integration of another pet.
Planes, Trains & Felines
Your new home may not be within driving distance. If this is the case, your research is going to have to take you farther than my blog post. Different airlines have different rules & regulations for bringing our furry friends with us. While proof of vaccination will be required no matter what, a consultation with your veterinarian prior to flying is highly recommended. Taking pets with you on a train may also have you running into a few problems if you don’t do preliminary research. I strongly advise you to contact the company you’re travelling with & get as much information on their process as you can.
With the right preparation, our goal is to make moving day a breeze! Having your boxes packed, organized & labelled is great. Having a few overlap days or even a week or two, allowing you to slowly move items one at a time to your new dream space is the ideal. Regardless of how organized & prepared you are, your cat has NO idea what is going on & will be needing some extra thought & TLC to help smooth their transition.
When nerves get the best of us (human or feline), our stomachs aren’t kind to us. Cats are prone to sickness when highly anxious so feed small meals the morning of the move to help keep their stomachs at peace.
Whether you move your cat before or after your belongings, they should be blocked off during the height of the commotion. Secure them in a room while the movers are transporting furniture to mitigate the impact of noise & confusion. This also eliminates the possibility of them running out of the door during the move. Place a note “Cat Inside – Do Not Open” on the door for added protection. Lay down some food, litter, a cat bed & some toys they are familiar with so they feel safe in this new or confined environment. Playing some light classical or jazz music never hurts! If you have more than one cat, never separate them during this process. They will take comfort in having each other. Check in frequently & don’t be alarmed if you find your cat hiding in an unusual corner behind the washing machine. This is a process.
After The Move
The heavy lifting is done but your job isn’t over! There are a few key housekeeping items to take care of to ensure a smooth transition for a happy kitty.
If you are moving into a larger property or one with multiple levels, introduce your furball to each floor or area in stages. If they are given too much visual or sound stimuli at a time, they may feel overwhelmed. If your kitty was in the laundry room for the move, slowly transition them to the whole floor that the laundry room is on. That way if something is overwhelming, they will have a safe space close by. Once they are comfortable with the whole floor, move on to the next stage until your kitty has free roam of the house. It is vital to always have a litter box within reach & make sure you show your cat where it is situated especially if you have moved it from the initial room they were in upon moving.
Make sure there are no loose electrical cords or open sockets. If you have been given any plants as a housewarming, check whether they are safe for cats to ingest. Check whether existing plants can be toxic to cats before placing them within reach if they may have been out of reach in a prior home. Not all cats are interested in plants, but it is always better to be safe than have a large vet bill & have compromised their health.
Consistency is key. With a cats nerves on high alert for new sights & smells, there are enough emotional stressors that could trigger stomach upset. Do your best to maintain a cat’s diet & not to over compensate with too many treats.
Life In Your New Home
Every cat has a very different demeanour so these are only some suggested ways to help ease the transition. Making sure you are doing your part to keep your cat’s environment as familiar as possible & spending quality time with them along the way are easy tricks to keep your little friend from becoming too anxious. If there are other things you have done to help ease your cats transition from one house to another, I would love to hear about it in the comments!
Thank you for reading!
Lara Stasiw • Real Estate Agent & Home Design Connoisseur
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