Moving and Cats: Tips to Make the Move Easier on Everyone

By: Talin Seta Shahinian

Moving can be quite an upheaval. Packing and sorting, often while trying to downsize and wondering, “How did I accumulate all this stuff?!” Even though we may not enjoy the process of moving, the advantage we have as humans is that we understand what’s happening. Our feline friends have no idea! They only sense the disruption of their familiar domain. Since you can’t sit down with your cat and explain to them that you’re moving, you have to use other methods to help them during the experience. Here are some ways you can keep your kitty comforted throughout your move.

Creating a Cat-Friendly Carrier

Your cat will be spending time in her carrier at some point during your move, so acclimating her before moving day is essential. If the only association your kitty has to being in her carrier are trips to the vet, she will probably not be eager to go in! Here’s how you can make the carrier more appealing:

  • You can place her carrier near a plug-in pheromone diffuser, releasing a calming analogue version of feline pheromones into the air. They also come in wipes, and you can pre-treat the inside of the carrier with them. Just rub all the inner surfaces with the wipes, then let dry.
  • You can also buy your cat a calming collar to wear, so she’ll already be more relaxed for the duration of your move, and it certainly will continue to be helpful after the move is over. These products can be found at most pet stores and online merchants.
  • Lay a soft article of clothing, towel, or a small throw blanket that has your scent on the floor of the carrier.
  • Put some of her favorite toys and catnip near the carrier. Place some treats leading to the carrier door.
  • Start by putting her food bowl at the opening of the carrier, and every day move it a little farther inside so she has to go into the carrier to eat.

Building these pleasant associations with her carrier can make moving day a lot easier for her. It may also serve as a comforting place of refuge for her to retreat to when there’s a lot of pre-move activity in your home.

Designating a Cat Sanctuary Room

Designate one spare room as an off-limits cat sanctuary. Before moving day, spend some quality time with your cat in this room so that he’ll feel more comfortable there. In the room, place all of your cat’s necessities: food, water, litter box (set at a distance from his feeding area.) The carrier and his toys will also be in this room. It will provide a chill-out zone for your kitty until it’s time to put him in his carrier. On moving day, place a note on the door indicating that the movers shouldn’t go into this room.

A Note on Highly Anxious Cats

If you know your cat is prone to more anxiety or fear than most, it can be wise and compassionate to consult with your vet for anti-anxiety medication or a sedative for the day of the move. Another option is to board your cat at a pet hotel or cattery for the day of the move, and pick them up in the evening. Use your best instincts and your knowledge of your cat’s disposition in your decision-making.

Tips for Your Fur Baby’s Car Ride

Place the carrier in a position where your cat can see you, other members of your family, or traveling companions. This gives them a sense of comfort. Secure the carrier with a seatbelt, or put the carrier on the floor behind the front seats. Never put your cat in the trunk or the cargo area of a truck! Feed your cat lightly before the ride to minimize the possibility of motion sickness. Make sure they’re well hydrated. If your carrier isn’t big enough for a litter box to fit inside, line it with some puppy training pads.

Welcoming Your Feline Royalty to their New Kingdom

Repeat the process of setting up one room in your new place for your cat to de-stress. Depending on your cat’s personality, they might be timid at first or raring to explore. Let them guide you in what’s comfortable for them. Take a clean sock or cloth and rub it against their cheeks, then rub it against walls, and corners at cat height. They’ll know they’re still king or queen of the new castle when they are ready to emerge from their room. You can repeat this process until you see them rubbing themselves against those areas on their own.

Cleanliness is Next to Kittyness

Another essential step to take is a thorough cleaning of your new place, especially if you know the prior residents had any pets. Cats are very territorial and sensitive to the smells of other animals. The best way to let them know they’re at home is to remove any traces of past pets. If you suspect any areas are heavily soiled, it may behoove you to hire professional carpet cleaners, or rent a carpet shampoo machine if you want to take on the job yourself.

Important Safety Precautions

It’s also vital that you don’t use a laundry room or boiler room for their sanctuary room, as a frightened or anxious cat may squeeze themselves between or behind appliances and get stuck. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor pet, do not let them outside for the first two weeks. They need to have time to regard your new residence as their safe home base.

Get Hip to Microchips

If your cat or cats aren’t microchipped, it’s highly recommended to get them chipped before your move. Your regular vet can do this or check with your local humane society. If they’re already microchipped, make sure your address and phone number are both updated. Despite your best efforts, cats can sneak out, and if you’ve moved locally, your cat may try to return to your old home. The last thing you’d want is your kitty getting lost and their microchip not having your correct contact information. Make sure their microchip tag is securely attached to their collar before making your move.

If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We’re a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. Find information for scheduling on our website. You can also look on our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!


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