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Wondering how to move with a cat? Whether or not you have a furry feline friend, moving day can be stressful. Problems are bound to arise but there are ways to ensure the safety and happiness of your cat is not one of them. Because they are sensitive creatures, cats can sometimes react negatively to change so it’s important to take steps to keep your cat as peaceful as possible as you ease them into a new environment.
Follow our simple steps to keep your cat comfortable and help make your move that little bit less stressful:
- Make Sure ID and microchips are updated
- Talk to Your Vet About Anxiety Treatment
- Get a Cat Carrier
- Practice With Mini-Trips
- Plan Your Moving Day in Advance
- Help Your Cat Settle in
- Final Notes
1. Make Sure ID and Microchips are Updated
This may seem like an obvious step but it is also one of the most essential - keeping your cat’s identification documents updated is paramount. This could include updating any contact information on their collar or tag, as well as ensuring the address linked to their microchip is up-to-date, just in case they escape during the move.1
If you are moving long distance with a cat, or moving across a country with a cat, it is also important to gather all of the veterinary records from your previous veterinarian to transfer over to a closer one. This is especially helpful if you have to make a stop at the vet along the way.1
2. Talk to Your Vet about Anxiety Treatment
Moving can be an uncertain time for pets and for cats, which are lovers of routine and stability, this can cause some anxiety. All cats are different, some are more anxious than others, but it is important to identify any symptoms of cat anxiety so that it can be effectively treated.
If your cat already struggles with anxiety and is more prone to feeling nervous, it is worth having a conversation with a veterinarian prior to the move so that you can come up with an effective plan to manage it. They may recommend anxiety medications, supplements, prescription diets or calming aids to manage your cat’s stress levels and keep them calm throughout the moving process.2
Following our other tips for moving with a cat can also help to mitigate the anxiety, but it is fairly likely that the day will be stressful for your cat – new environments can be intimidating. Understanding this is essential in helping to soothe their anxiety. To help with this, keep moving days predictable and routine, to try and keep their surrounding environment as familiar as possible.1
3. Get a Cat Carrier
Although some cats are happy sitting on their pet parent’s lap, they are also agile and quick and can bolt to the nearest escape, as the moving process often includes a number of unfamiliar faces and disruptions to their living space, making them feel threatened or nervous. Whether you are moving cross country with your cats, or just down the road, we recommend that you keep your cat in a cat carrier during the moving process. This helps to prevent any runaway kitties or accidents.
It is always useful to get your cat used to their cat carrier before the actual move itself. A few weeks before your move, block the cat flap and position the cat carrier in a safe, quiet corner of your home and fill it with some familiar blankets, toys and treats that you know your cat will enjoy.3 If your furry friend is more of an outdoor cat, it is a good idea to keep them inside a couple of days before the move, so you can start introducing them to the carriers.2
4. Practice With Mini-Trips
Allow your cat to adjust to the feeling of being on the move in a cat carrier by doing a few mini trips before the actual move. This way, you can also gauge whether your cat is prone to motion sickness or travel sickness and discuss appropriate measures with a licensed veterinarian, where they can advise you on the best tactics to handle this. This can also help you adjust to traveling with a cat - one less thing to worry about on the day of the big move.
5. Plan Your Moving Day in Advance
Knowing your route and staying prepared will lead to a smoother moving experience in general, helping to keep you and your pet as relaxed as possible. Additionally, it’s helpful to leave with plenty of time so that you can drive smoothly, instead of driving in a rush, which can be more stressful for your cat.
If you are moving long distance with your cat, look into pet-friendly airlines so there are not any unexpected problems, and pet-friendly hotels in case you have to take a stop along the road. Also be aware that your cat will need bathroom breaks so leave time every 2-3 hours for them to relieve themselves if they do not have kitty litter in the carrier.
Cats enjoy being in the dark, so you can cover the carrier with a sheer, breathable blanket to give them a calming space (permitting it is not a hot day and that there is still regulated airflow into the carrier).1
6. Help Your Cat Settle in
After you have moved your cat into your new home, be gradual about introducing them to all areas of the house and allow them to take the lead. If they are skeptical to enter new rooms then don’t force them, take it slowly, one step at a time.2
Choose a good base for your cat’s food and litter box in a room they are comfortable in and ensure you spend a good amount of time interacting with your cat - a familiar face will be welcomed.2 As they grow more comfortable in their new environment, fear will be replaced with curiosity and you will find they begin to explore a bit more on their own, without any prompt needed from you.
In case there were other animals living there before, ensure you do a deep clean of the house to get rid of any other territorial smells that might make your cat feel uncomfortable or threatened.2 These smells can cling to carpets and curtains as well as counters and surfaces.
How long does it take for a cat to get used to a move?
It can take your cat a few days to weeks to get used to their new environment - don’t worry, this is completely normal.1 Begin by keeping their food, water and litter tray all in one room, ensuring you spend quality time with them as much as possible during this adjustment period. Gradually, you will find that your cat wants to explore on their own, their natural curiosity helping them to settle in, even if it can take some time.
How do you move a cat long distance?
Planning your trip will be the most important factor in an effective move. Ensuring that you know of pet-friendly hotels to stop at along the way and using pet-friendly transportation (e.g cat-friendly airplanes) will be key. Also getting them used to their cat carrier before the move will help them to remain relaxed and comfortable, along with giving them treats and a comfortable blanket to lay on. If your cat carrier does not have a litter tray, remember to also stop for breaks so they can relieve themselves regularly.
Why won’t my cat stop meowing after moving?
Cats continuously meow for a number of reasons. With the stress moving can cause your cat, it is not uncommon for there to be an increase in their vocalization after the move. Giving your cat lots of love, attention and easing them into the move is the best way to reduce the excessive meowing. If it is extremely abnormal for your cat and the meowing does not stop after a few days, we recommend consulting a vet.
The most important tip to remember when you are moving with a cat is that planning is paramount. Awareness of your cat’s mood, an understanding of their anxiety and points to stop in your journey will minimize stress levels for both you and your furry friend. Keep all identification and vet records up to date, invest in a cat carrier, and practice with some mini-trips if you have the time.Searching for a new, quality veterinarian can be stressful and is often put on the back burner when relocating. Luckily, Dutch can help with our convenient telemedicine service for pets, providing you with licensed veterinary advice from the comfort of your home. Easily purchase medicine for your cat or dog with our online shop, stocked full of veterinarian-recommended products to keep your furry friend healthy and happy, wherever they are.
Cowart, Catrina. “How to move with cats” Move.org, July 13 2022 https://www.move.org/moving-with-cats/.
Mueller, Laura. “Moving with a Cat: Tips for Making it Less Stressful” Moving.com, 4 April 2018 https://www.moving.com/tips/moving-with-a-cat-tips-for-making-less-stressful/.
Flowers, Amy. “Cats and Moving to a New Home: Making the Transition” Fetch, 28 June 2021 https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/moving-new-home-cat.
“Moving house and travelling with cats” https://www.bluecross.org.uk/advice/cat/moving-house-and-travelling-with-cats#:~:text=Moving%20home%20can%20be%20traumatic,help%20the%20cat%20settle%20in.