Moving house is a big change for anyone, but it can be upsetting, scary and disorienting for pets. Cats, in particular, can find the experience hard going, and many cats are lost because the preparation and settling routines were not considered far enough in advance and stuck to after the big day.
Tips Before Moving
- Get your cat used to the cat carrier and associate it with positive things like treats.
- Update your microchip details and make sure your phone numbers are current
- Book a cattery for a couple of days to minimise stress
- Plan the cat space at the new house; if you cannot dedicate a whole room to the cat, get an extra large dog crate
- Purchase a litter tray and litter
Moving Day Tips
- Take cats to a cattery
- If your cats move with you, make sure the cat box has been secured
- Don’t feed them before you leave to avoid car sickness
- Set up a cat zone that won’t be disturbed away from windows and doors.
- Mark the room off limits to all with a large sign on the door
Tips After Moving House
- Keep doors and windows closed as a routine when your cat is roaming the house
- Use plug-in diffusers and offer cat-nip toys to help them relax
- Have plenty of toys, scratching posts and things to occupy them
- Use blankets with a familiar scent
- Give them regular room breaks to explore the indoors of the new house
Helping Your Cat Settling into a New Home
Moving day is chaotic, and your feline friend has so much potential to escape and get lost. With this in mind, many owners choose to pop their cats into cattery care a day before the move and collect them once things have settled and the removal vans have left. Keeping them shut in is vital, so if you think that will be an issue, that is your safest bet. Failing that, you can use a large animal crate or allocate one room for the cat that no one else will go in or out of all day.
Have food, water, blankets that smell familiar and some catnip to help them feel safe and put a sign on the door asking that the door remain shut at all times. Most people move the cat in a cat box, so when you get to the new house, pop the box into the room or crate, open the door and leave the cat in it. Don’t force the cat out of the box. It may feel safe there. The space also needs a clean litter tray. This should be their new home for the first few days to recover from the shock.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Cat Used to a New Home?
Over the next few days, remember that this is all very strange for your cat. Settling a cat into a new home is a slow process. They don’t understand a house move, and although they will be comforted by your scent around the place and your fuss and attention, they can still spook easily. So, after a couple of days, you need to let them start exploring the house but make sure all doors and windows to the outside world remain closed. One of the biggest mistakes made by cat owners who have just moved house is letting the cat out too soon. Put up with the meowing and pacing; your cat is out of routine but does not be tempted to open outside doors. If they are still scared, they will bolt, and the potential to get lost in unfamiliar territory is vast. A frightened, confused cat will keep moving ever further away from home or end up in a traffic accident because they are too stressed and not calm.
When to Let Your Cat Go Outside?
Every family member must know that the cat must not be let out of the house in the first few days. This can be tricky if you have excited small children running in and out of the new back garden. It is safer to keep the cat shut in the safe room for longer if you think there is a risk that a door or window will be left open. Consider letting the cat out of its safe space in the evenings when the children are in bed, and you can monitor the situation more closely. It will also help the cat settle if the home is calm, so watching TV on the sofa with you is a great way to help them feel safe in the new house.
The general advice is to keep your cat inside for two to three weeks, which can be challenging. However, if you can work this schedule well, you should find that when you let your kitty out, they are settled and do not roam. The first time you let them out, make sure they have a collar and ID tag on them and update microchip details with the database so if they get lost, you can be reunited as soon as possible. Let them out first thing in the morning and remove all food the night before. This way, you can be sure they are hungry and set their food down as soon as they go out.
Some people like to take the cat out on a lead to explore the back garden, but this will depend significantly on the cat’s tolerance. Take the litter tray out before you clean it and remove it, and leave that near the back door as this will smell like them and help them find their way back if they get disorientated. Even if you have a cat-flap, leave the door open to start with to make it clear where the way home is.
Final Thoughts and Advice
Following these tips should make moving home with your cat a positive experience and make sure they settle and do not roam once you let them outside again. It takes a bit of prior planning and buy-in from the whole family to make sure doors and windows aren’t left open unless the cat is shut in the safe room. However, if you can follow these steps, your pet should find the process relatively stress-free and enjoy its new home. If you’re planning to move a house, get in touch with our removals team for a hassle-free move.