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Moving house with a cat

Cats love their territory, which can make it hard when moving home. Discover how to move house with a cat, including how to prepare, what to do during the move, getting settled and more.



How to move house with a cat

Moving house is a big change for anyone, but can be especially overwhelming for your cat. Their life revolves around familiarity and routine, and a new environment can make them feel stressed or unsettled. 

If you’re moving home with a cat, it’s worth planning for before, during and after the move. Your cat bonds strongly with their territory, so being prepared is key to making sure it’s a stress-free transition for them.

From updating their microchip details to bringing familiar scents, make moving day a breeze for you and your kitty.

Before moving

With stacks of boxes around the house, your cat is most likely aware that change is coming. Get ahead of moving day with your kitty using the following tips.

Maintain your cat’s routine while you pack

Cats are creatures of habit. They know their feeding and rest times, when to spend time with you and when they want to be alone. Before moving home with a cat, keep up the same routine leading up to the big day. This will give them a sense of control and security in their home environment.

Make a cat-safe zone in the house

Create a ‘home within a home’ and gradually move your cat’s possessions into a quiet room. This will keep your cat away from any disruptions and make them feel safe. 

Familiarise your cat with their travel carrier

If you bring the travel carrier out just before moving home with a cat, they might associate it with a cattery or vet trip. Instead, have it out and open a few weeks ahead of the move to get your cat used to it. If you put treats and toys inside, even better. Your cat will react positively to the carrier when moving day comes around.

Use calming pheromones 

Cats produce pheromones when they feel safe and usually rub their faces on things to spread them around their home. Using a synthetic copy of this pheromone can help to reassure and comfort cats. Consider a calming plug-in diffuser or spray at least 24 hours before moving prep to reduce stress in your cat.

Register at a local vet

It’s important to register your cat to a local vet before you move, or as soon as possible after. Once your cat has moved to a new house, they will be in an unfamiliar environment. With lots of open doors during the move, accidents can easily happen. Registering them with a vet in advance can help in case of an emergency.

Update their microchip details

On the big day, you’ll be in and out of the house carrying boxes. It can be easy for your cat to sneak outside and get lost. Avoid the stress of searching for your furry friend by updating their microchip details with your new address before you move. It’s also worth getting a new tag for their collar with your new address on.

Check your new house is cat-safe

If you’re moving house with an outdoor cat, it’s impossible to control where they go. Still, it’s best to get familiar with your new neighbourhood so you’re aware of any potential dangers. Also, be conscious of any ‘new home’ flowers on display indoors. Lillies are highly toxic to cats, and even a little of the pollen can be fatal. 

Clean your new house to remove any strange scents

Cats are sensitive to scents, and they will immediately pick up on any strange ones in their new home. Consider wiping down areas that could have a cat scent on them and leave the house clean for your own household smells. This will stop your cat from being wary of any scent ‘competition’. 

Take out cat insurance

Moving with cats is a job in itself, and it can be hard to keep tabs on your kitty. Cat insurance can help to pay for adverts and rewards if your cat is ever lost or stolen. It can also help towards treatment costs if your cat becomes ill or has an accident. Choose from time limited, lifetime or maximum benefit for peace of mind and make the move safe for you and your four-legged friend.

On moving day

By the time moving day comes, you will have already done all the planning to get your cat prepared. Still, there are some steps you can take to make sure it’s a smooth move.

Travel with your cat in a secure travel carrier

Travel carriers are the best way to move home with a cat. Secure the carrier in the boot of the car or strap it into the car seat. Make sure your cat (and seat) are out of direct sunlight and give them regular access to water. If your kitty is prone to travel sickness, avoid feeding them at least four hours before the journey.

Consider leaving your cat with a friend or in a cattery during the move

If possible, consider leaving your cat in a cattery or with a friend while you move. This will relieve them of stress and will save you from keeping an eye on them. When everything is more settled, your cat can enter their new, calm environment.

Unpack your cat’s belongings first 

While your cat is still in their carrier, unpack their food and water bowls, toys and bedding. The familiar home items will reassure your cat and help them to settle in. Consider placing their items in one room that can be closed off.

Bring the familiar scent of home

Cats are likely to feel secure with familiar scents of home. Bring blankets and other items that carry your home’s scent. You might even want to spread their scent around the home by rubbing a soft cloth against your cat’s face, and then onto furnishings. Couple this with a plug-in diffuser and your cat is set to relax. 

Create a new cat-safe area

Once you move home with a cat, they’ll need a space to call their own. Consider allocating a room or section in the house for your cat and place their food bowl, water bowl and cat bed there. This will help them to feel safe and happy and will settle them into their environment easier.

Getting cats used to their new home

You’ve survived the big move with your kitty, but they will still need time to adjust to their new surroundings. Help your cat fall in love with their new home  with the following tips.

Introduce them to their new home gradually

Cats love to explore, but a new home might be overwhelming for them to tackle all at once. Let them get familiarised one room at a time at their own pace. It’s important to expand their territory gradually over time. As they roam around, make sure all doors and windows are closed to prevent them from heading outside.

Maintain a similar routine

Despite the new environment and new scents, your cat should keep their old routine. Try to feed them their normal food at their normal time and give them some one-on-one attention. The closer you stick to their normal schedule, the less wary your cat will feel. Your cat will read your emotional cues, so try to be calm as they adjust.

How long to keep cats inside after moving

After moving house with a cat, you might find them purring by the door after a day or two. It’s best to keep your cat indoors for at least two weeks when you move house, no matter how much the purrs pull on your heart strings. Any earlier and they could get lost or try to find their way back to your old home.

Outdoor cats generally cope well after a couple of weeks, while timid cats may need some more time to adapt to their new environment. When letting your cat outside for the first time , accompany them in the garden so you can keep an eye on them while they explore. This will help build up their confidence and prepare them for going out alone in time. 

Frequently asked questions 

How long does it take for a cat to get used to a new home?

This will depend on their personality. Most cats will adjust to their surroundings within one to two weeks. However, it may take several weeks if you have more than one animal in the household.

Is moving stressful for cats?

Yes, moving home is stressful for cats. Cats are territorial animals and are averse to change. Whether you’re moving across the country or down the road, the change in environment can likely cause you’re cat some level of anxiety. Speak to your vet before moving with your cat for advice on managing their stress.

Should I leave my cat alone after moving?

Your cat will need time to adapt to their new environment and will require their own space. Give them time alone to settle in and adjust. Eventually, they should warm to their environment and explore in their own time.


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