- How to keep your cat calm while you pack
- Where to leave your cat while you move
- Give your cat ‘room service’ to settle in quickly
Kris Glover from Pets in Practise is a certified professional animal behaviourist and has worked as a re-homer at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
Cats are famously independent but, just like dogs, they love their security – which is why it’s important to help yours settle happily into a new home. Forget the old myths like putting butter on the cat's paws, here are some tips to help.
Planning your move
How cats pick up on changes
Cats are very sensitive and, even in the planning stages, can pick up on changes. To help keep your cat happy, try confining them to one room during the week before the bulk of your packing starts, making sure they have access to food, water, a litter tray, toys, a scratching post, their bed – and lots of cuddles.
A shy cat who hasn’t moved home before will find the transition harder, so, however busy you are, try to spend some time with them in the run-up to the move.
How familiar smells can help your cat
Don’t wash your cat’s bedding or toys before or after the move – familiar smells will be comforting until they’re properly settled in. In the run-up to the move, get your cat to lie on pieces of cloth which you can seal into an airtight bag; then rub the cloths around the walls at skirting board level and leave them around the new house to make it smell like their home.
Book a cat holiday
If your cat has been to a cattery before, checking them into one for a few days before and after the move will keep him safe and calm – and you’ll be able to bring them back into a ready-made new home.
How to get your cat into the carrier
Get your cat used to their cat carrier well in advance of the move. You can encourage them into the carrier by leaving small, tasty meals inside.
Installing a cat flap
If there isn’t a cat flap it’s worth getting one fitted soon after the move so your cat can go outside as soon as you’re ready for them to.
Day of the move
Creating a quiet space
If it’s not possible to leave them somewhere safe until after the removals people have left, keep your cat in their travel crate in the quietest room possible until all the furniture is in.
Travelling with two or more cats
If you own more than one cat and they get on well, make sure you keep them together rather than splitting them up. Just like humans, cats get used to the company and can have difficulty adjusting to being without it. Separating them, even for a short time, can also cause once-friendly cats to be aggressive to one another, which means you will have to slowly reintroduce them as if they had never met, giving the most nervous of the group a sanctuary room they can retreat to.
Room service for your cat
Once the removals team has left, let your cat out of the carrier into an allocated room that has been prepared especially for them with their food, water, litter tray, favourite toys, and bed.
Create a hiding place for your cat
Immediately after the move, offer somewhere for your cat to hide – an empty packing box would be handy – so that he can go to a bolt-hole without leaving the property.
Exploring your cat’s new home
After a couple of days they can explore the rest of the house or flat – but don’t let your cat outside for at least a month while they settle in to their new surroundings.
Making friends with feline neighbours
Cats are territorial and solitary by nature, so if you’re moving to a place where he will have many cat neighbours, they might need more reassurance from you. You can do this by behaving calmly in front of the other cats which will help them to feel secure. Maintaining your cat’s usual routines and giving them small, regular meals will also make him feel more at home.
Be vigilant when you first let them outside to ensure they don't become intimidated or harmed by other local cats and dogs they're not familiar with.
Settling your cat using pheromones
Pheromones can help calm stressed-out pets. Use a pheromone plug in the room they’re going to be in initially to speed up the process, and scatter their cat litter in the garden borders to let local cats know that this area now belongs to your pet.
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