You’ve bought your house, you’ve packed up all your stuff and now you need to move, so how do you do that with a cat? The cat has lived in the same house since being a kitten, how will it manage in the new house? Should I put butter on the cat’s paws? When do I let my cat outside? How long should I keep my cat indoors? We’ve got all the answers to these questions, to make moving house with a cat a breeze!
Firstly, we need to talk about preparing your cat for the move. There’s going to be a lot of stress and chaos whilst you’re moving, so it may be a good idea to consider putting your cat into a cattery or to allow relatives to look after your cats on the day of the move.
If you can’t get anybody to look after your cats on moving day, make sure that you have a special room put to one side where your cats can go and not be disturbed, preferably with no carpet for them to scratch up!
In a specially designated room, place their bed, a drink, some food and a litter tray. Allow your cats to stay in the room for a few hours in the run-up to the move, so on the day of the move, they are used to staying in that room.
Moving cats to a new home
On the day we moved we emptied the old house and moved everything into the new house, then brought over the cats last thing. This gave us a chance to make sure there were some familiar aromas in the new home from furniture etc. It also gave me time to put their beds, litter and some food in a small room designated for them.
If it isn’t possible to do this, pack the van then take the cats with you at the last minute in your car. When you get to the new house take them up to special room where you have prepared litter, a water bowl, some dinner and their bed then leave them in there until absolutely everything is in place and the doors are locked.
Moving house with an indoor cat
On the first day in your new home it will probably be very late when you finish unpacking the van, so allow your cats to explore a little bit of the new house before you go to bed.
Make sure that there are food and water dishes available and that the cat’s beds are accessible around the house. Make sure your cat knows where his litter tray is. If possible, try to keep your cat confined to one or two rooms so he doesn’t get overwhelmed and scared.
Ensure that all doors and windows are locked, especially if you have small children. It is easy for kids to open the doors without thinking, whereas if the door is locked, it makes it easier to control where your cats are before you unlock it and makes it harder for the cats to escape.
I know how difficult it is to keep windows and doors shut, especially when you’ve moved into a new house and need to change the air, but it will be worth it in the end, to ensure that the cats don’t escape.
How to introduce a cat to a new home
Introducing a cat to a new home needn’t be too stressful. When you awake in the morning you can let the cats explore a little bit more of your home and get used to their surroundings. They may like to sit on the windowsills and to take a look outside at what is going on.
Cats and moving stress
Moving with a cat can be very stressful for us, but just take a second to imagine how it must feel for a cat.
We can’t explain to a cat what’s happening, and they don’t understand all the upheaval, so it’s important to try and keep your cat’s routines as normal as possible throughout the move.
Give your cat small frequent meals to help alleviate any worry about food.
For more information about cat moving stress and advice on new cat care and health, go to https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/cats
Moving house with an outdoor cat
It is important to keep your cats indoors for at least 2 to 3 weeks after moving, this will allow them to get used a new environment, get used to any unusual noises in the area and any new scents. Once they are settled completely after about 2 to 3 weeks you may like to start thinking about letting them out.
I decided to let my cats out on a harness for a couple of weeks before letting them go out on their own.
My cats are considerably sensible and were very happy to walk about the back garden on a long lead. I used the type of extendable lead that you would use for walking a puppy and this worked really well.
I took both of them out first thing in the morning, a couple of times a day, and once before bed. Doing this enabled my cats to add their own scent to the garden and let them get used to going to the toilet outside again.
I only let one cat go out at a time, as I didn’t want each cat to get scared by the other.
I made sure I left the door open so that if they got scared by an unfamiliar or sudden loud noise they could just dart back indoors.
When to let your cat outside.
After a few weeks of allowing my cats out on the lead. I decided to start letting them out on their own. I waited until the house was empty and the kids were at school so there was no extra noise to frighten them.
I now live on quite a busy road so I was careful to wait until after rush-hour and the road was a little bit quieter. I let my cats out of the back door and I decided to let one cat out at a time so that if one did decide to go and explore the neighbourhood the other one didn’t follow. I made sure I let my cat out before he had been fed in the hope that he wouldn’t stray too far and come back when he was hungry.
The first time I let my cat out I sat in the garden with a bag of treats and every time he went a little bit further than I wanted him too, I shook the bag, called him back and gave him a treat, this way he got used to going away then coming back again.
For the first day I allowed him to go out for a few minutes then brought him back in, then each day I allowed him to go out for a little bit longer. Eventually, he would do a little bit of exploring then come back and sit in the garden. I repeated these steps for my other cat and within a few days, they were quite happy just to stay around the garden.
My cats do venture into the front garden but they do seem to be a bit more scared and wary of the road. If I see them in the front garden I bring them back in.
Moving house with multiple Cats
When moving with multiple cats it is important to keep them together so they are accustomed to each other in unfamiliar surroundings. I found it easier to let one cat out at a time just in case they decided to wander off. I would rather have one missing cat than two!
Moving cats litter trays
It is also important to remember that a lot of cats do not like to use the same litter trays as another cat, so where possible try to get each cat their own litter tray and place them in a separate area if possible. If your cat is an outdoor cat, try to keep their tray is clean as possible, this should help to prevent your cat from leaving you small presents all around the house!
Time needed: 14 days.
Tips to help your cat settle in a new home
- Prepare your cat for the move
In the run-up to the move, get your cat used to staying in one room, on the day of the move they will be used to staying in this room and it will be less stressful for them on the day.
- Ensure you’ve got a suitable cat carrier ready for the move.
When moving house with a cat, make sure you have a suitable strong cat basket or pet carrier to transport your cat. Make sure it is safe and secure to avoid any escapees.
- Make sure your cat is the last thing you take to your new home
Keep your cat in your old home until the very last minute, this will avoid any chaos and reduce the chance of them escaping. It is advisable to keep your cat in the house the night before you move, to prevent any possibility of him not coming home before you move.
- Make sure your cats have something familiar in their new environment.
When moving with a cat, make sure you have something familiar to greet them in their new home such as a scratching pole, food, water, their bedding and maybe an old jumper of yours, as this will help your cat settle into his new environment.
- Get your cat used to using the litter tray before the move
Try to introduce your cat back to it’s litter tray in plenty of time before the moving day, as this will eliminate some stress at the time of the move.
- Think about setting up a cat house or bed somewhere warm and dry outside
When relocating a cat, consider putting a bed somewhere warm and comfortable outside for the first few days after letting him out, this is especially helpful when moving an older cat into a new home.
It’s important that when your cat starts to go out on his own there is somewhere comfortable for him to return to if you were not in. It’s good to know that there is always somewhere safe for him to sit and wait for you to get home, especially if he gets scared by something outside.
- Keep your cat in for at least two weeks after moving into your new home
When moving house with a cat you should allow your cat to get used to all the smells of the house and get thoroughly used to his surroundings before you let him out.
This is generally an old wives tale, there is no need to put butter on a cat’s paws. As long as you are very careful about not letting your cat out too soon, you shouldn’t need to worry about putting butter on your cat’s paws!
Your cat may be suffering from a bit of stress. It is important to comfort your cat, but also give him some space to allow him to sit quietly somewhere away from the kids and allow him to get used to his new home. Keep his routine as simple as possible and as close to the routine you’ve had at your last home, concerning feeding time etc. This will help him feel slightly more settled.
For more information on moving house and to read some amazing moving house tips read this post.
To find out roughly how long it takes to move house, read this post
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