Tips on how to move with a cat
By Charlotte Brown, Ben Rubenstein, Sondra C, Flickety and 22 others
Confine your cat in a room while you get everything sorted out, eg, packing, furniture moving, etc. This will calm your cat down a little and will save time trying to find your cat. If you can, get somebody else to sit in the room with your cat.
When you are driving to your new house, keep your cat calm by taking a familiar blanket or such-like. Always provide food and water. Keep your cat calm by talking in a soothing voice. Never put your cat in the moving van, the trailer, or the boot/trunk. Also, while driving in the car with your cat, make sure it doesn’t run amok! Put it in a soft, comfortable, and dry crate with food, water, and a few towels. Pull a towel over the top of the crate so your cat feels more secure. Your cat may have a couple of accidents, so bring extra towels to change in with the old.
When in your new house, again confine your cat in the room s/he will be sleeping in. Don’t put your cat in the garage, as s/he will need to be with people for the first three months. Don’t subject your cat to too many unfamiliar situations at any one time. Again, if you can find somebody to sit with your cat, do so. Be sure you place your furniture before letting out the cat or he/she may spay to mark new territory if not familiar with surrounding furniture.
After two or three days in your new house, let your cat explore the rooms; one at a time, mind, otherwise your cat will be overwhelmed, and might try to run away.
If your cat likes to go outside, let him/her do so after two/ three weeks in your new house. Try and fit him with a clip-on collar and/or microchip. Spend time outdoors with your cat, making reassuring conversation. Place bowls and favorite food around.
It may also be helpful to try a time-tested trick of placing butter on the cat’s paws. Being fastidious, cats feel compelled to lick all the butter off, while they are rooted to the spot. If you do this, think about placing your cat on the front or back doorstep. As they lick, they are taking in the smells, atmosphere and general feel of their new neighborhood
- Place a towel over the cat carrier in the car. The ensuing warmth and darkness will calm the cat to the point they will fall asleep.
- If you have to make hotel stays with your cat while relocating, be sure to keep the cat well confined. First, you must have a decent carrier which the cat can use as a safety zone and return to whenever s/he feels threatened. Secondly, don’t forget to keep the doors closed – you don’t want kitty escaping in a hotel complex or foreign area! Keep the cat in the bathroom if there are people coming and going, especially with family members of all ages around.
- It is sometimes useful, if your cat sleeps on your bed, to not wash the bed when you move and to then make the bed for the first few nights with the old “dirty” bedding. Then puss will know that she is truly “home” and will settle down even quicker.
- Likewise, it may well be useful to not clean the litter boxes out completely, but to leave a remnant odour that the cat will recognize as their own. This has the effect of settling them down quite a bit. Don’t forget to show them where the new box locations are!
- For longer trips, or very frightened cats, it may be advisable to consult your Veterinarian well in advance to obtain anti-anxiety meds for your cat, These work wonders to relieve travel stress. Some cats sleep through entire trips with medication. Push one of the tiny pills deep into a soft fishy treat, and your cat will probably eat it right up without resistance.
- Buy plenty of dried food supplies in advance of the relocation and make sure that this food is kept well and truly separate from items being packed (keep with your personal gear that you are taking in the car). This way you won’t be caught short when moving into the new house at midnight when no store for miles is open!
- If you have to move your cat by airplane (see How to Transport Cats by Plane), call the airline in advance to check the carrier requirements, along with checking whether they supply one or where to obtain one from. Also ask about who is responsible for supplying food/water. Remember to include something familiar like a favorite blanket in the carrier for the journey. Make sure the cat is collected immediately at the other end; preferably by someone familiar with the cat.
- If possible arrange to keep your cat at a kennel for a few days while all the actual moving is going on. It can be a lot less traumatic for the cat to spend a couple of days away and arrive at their new home with all of “their” people and stuff already in place…without the hubbub of moving day..
- Be prepared for loud wailing on the car journey – most cats find car travel extremely disorienting and strange and will vocalize loudly. This can be very distracting for the driver and distressing for all concerned unless everyone is prepared for this noise.
- Always administer prescription medications according to the letter of your Veterinary instructions. It may take a long while for kitty to calm down after medicating her, but don’t increase the dosage without explicit permission from the Vet, or else you may overdose your poor cat, and that could become a serious problem for both of you.
- Make sure all cubbies, crawlspaces, or any small space big enough for your cat to fit through are blocked. Moving is very scary for cats and they will try to find a “safe spot” to hide.
- Never place your cat in a sack, bag or other carrying item that has no view-holes. Cats need to have some sense of their surroundings and not having this simply terrifies them and makes them dangerous to handle, let alone the fact that they will never forgive you. Your cat needs to arrive settled and trusting. Also, the holes provide air to get into the carrier. If no air is getting in, your cat will probably suffocate and die.