Moving On Up

"Has everything stopped being moved yet?"

"Has everything stopped being moved yet?"
Moving home can be quite a big stress for humans. And even more so for our furry friends.

Cats are unlikely to understand what’s going on when suddenly their home becomes full of boxes and the familiar items that they are used to are disappearing into those boxes. Then moving day comes and they get shut into a room so they don’t get under foot whilst everything is being moved in and out, until the moment that they too get put into their own boxes and loaded into a vehicle.

And even getting to the new home doesn’t stop the stress, at least not immediately. Now the cats are in a strange new place, with strange new smells, and they still get shut into one room to avoid getting squished whilst the hustle and bustle goes on in the rest of the apartment/house.

It’s easy to see how stressful this can be for cats.

If you hadn’t worked it out yet, we recently moved. It wasn’t a small move, either. Our cats ended up spending about 7 hours in a car to move 500km north to our new home.

There were a few steps we took to make the move easier for the cats.

Confining them to a single room on moving day, both before and after the actual moving, is actually a very good thing. It helps prevent them being stressed by, well, all the things that are moving around them! And of course it means they can’t escape out of doors that have been left open for moving furniture through. Continuing to confine the cats to one area in the new home is also a good idea because it allows them to acclimatise before being exposed to the whole new place. If your cats are outdoor cats you should keep them inside at first, to make sure they know that this new place is home before they go outside.

A familiar island amongst a sea of boxesOur vets suggested giving our cats some calming medication starting a couple of days before the move took place. We also had a hormone spray to help keep them calm, which was sprayed in the old flat in the days leaving up to the move, in their carry boxes before they went in them on moving day, and in the living room of the new flat (the room they were first introduced to) ready for their arrival. (Side note – please consult your vet or another expert before medicating your cat!)

Once the cats got to the new flat we tried to have the room as ready for them as possible. Whilst we obviously couldn’t get everything in and unpacked immediately (two weeks later and we’re still far from unpacked!) we made sure to have their essentials in place – litter trays and water were the priority. We also gave them blankets, which of course would smell familiar to them. And as soon as we were able we moved the cat trees into the room to give them places to climb (and hide), even if the trees would later be moved somewhere else.

Luckily it didn’t take long for the cats to get themselves settled in, and they seem perfectly happy here now!


Lady Joyful

Have you moved house with your cat? Do you have any tips to share for making the whole process easier on our furry friends?

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28 thoughts on “Moving On Up

  1. Kate Crimmins says:

    Yes! My current group hasn’t moved (not yet!) but the two cats I had before moved several times. No matter what I did (and this was before Feliway and other calming products were widely available) they would spend a week under the bed after they were let out of the room where we kept them while we moved. Then all was good. If we moved today, I think it would be easier to acclimate them.

  2. Michelle says:

    My cats and I have moved a couple times. I let them play in and out of the boxes as much as they want in the old and the new places, put all the boxes in one room where I keep them out (since they enjoy eating the cardboard), having them stay at their buddies place for a few days before and after moving day and the last thing is to use the calming collars. I’ve never medicated these two because the techniques I’ve mentioned were enough for my two boys. They settle in pretty quickly after investigating and confirming food, water and litter locations. I also find that keeping familiar smelling items handy helpful. Their favourite toys, their sleeping blankets, all make a difference.

  3. Sabina Ayne says:

    The last big move I had with my four cats (now only three) was from Georgia to Virginia – 8 hours in a car! I put my dirty tee shirts in each carrier, so they would have my scent (stink?) with them. I also kept a towel to put over the door so they wouldn’t get too stressed when we stopped for potty breaks (Humans, not cats). Also, no food and water the day of the trip. I gave them water half way through the trip as well as a treat. Cats were priority to get in the house when we arrived. The cats did well during that move. I hope I don’t have to move again for a long time!!

    • Lady Joyful says:

      That sounds similar to what we did 🙂 Moving that far is definitely a stress for everyone. I wouldn’t want to do it again for a while, but we also want to move back south as soon as possible (maybe in 3 years) to be closer to family. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  4. coffeewitholiver says:

    I definitely agree that putting clothes with your scent on them into boxes, their carriers, in the room they are shut into, etc, is a great idea. It’s comforting at best, and harmless at worst. They have no control, so give them toys to kick and scratching posts to attack. Give them something to look at, even if it’s just out a window. Give them something to do. 🙂

    Be patient after the move. Don’t rush to let them out into the world if they are outdoor cats…give them time to feel comfortable in the whole house first, so they associate their new home with happy comfort time.

    Wish my cats luck on their mobile life when it happens (yikes)!


  5. lawjic says:

    I just adopted a tiny calico cat who weighs about 7 lbs; looks like a kitten; acts like a kitten and was adopted and brought back to the shelter 3 times after a week. No one could handle this insane cat (age 2 years 4 months). Thinking I am a cat expert, I DID adopt Kit Cat, and indeed she is a terror. She is crazier than any kitten ever. It’s clear she was traumatized and it’s now up to me to SOLVE this. I brought her home Friday afternoon and she has torn my house to shreds. She can run and jump and play like a new kitten, yet she bites and attacks. She is not housebroken; does not know what wet food is or even a bed. She runs wild and I watch in amazement. She is tiny and beautiful, but try a tummy rub and she bites and your hand is a TOY.

    I will get her examined by my DVM, but if I cannot do this, it is the END for this pretty petite calico cat. I have to believe I can help her. I though I was an “expert”, but this animal has been stunned and baffled. At night, I have to lock her in a small bathroom with a nightlight, litter box, blankets, food and water. If she hears me come down, it sounds like a tiny kitten is crying. When I let her our, it takes an hour to clean just the bathroom. As stated, she does not know what a BED or wet food are. She has clearly never had a real home and I want to make this her home. For animal welfare reasons, unless the DVM says this cat is insane and hopeless (and she may be), I will try for a few weeks. If I give her back, I was her LAST chance.

    Could YOU LIVE WITH THAT? Could YOU live with failing this animal? I cannot, so I will try no matter what this cat does. Again, the veterinarian must say she is otherwise healthy, just petite and very traumatized. I thought a 2 year old cat would be calm. This one is worse than any kittens I have ever seen…..Gotta love it. So pray that Kit Kat calms down and settles in, as I am so tired of the messes and being bitten every time I touch her.


    • Patricia says:

      Try a Thunder Shirt. They are supposed to work like a charm. Available at pet stores or online. Your vet may put her on a calming medication. I have been through this and it is worth the challenge. Rescue kitty’s can become so grateful and loving but they have been through a lot before they got to your home and unfortunately you don’t know what. Another calm cat can help them transition. One of mine learned from my other two cats. If I petted one of the others, he would timidly come up to be petted also. If he saw that what they ate was o.k. with them, he would eat it. He had lived in a small cage with a box of litter for 8 months because he had a fear of people, never let out to play or be in a natural environment. The breeder was going to euthanize him if I hadn’t taken him. He adjusted somewhat and became very loving to me and his cat buddies but still had a fear of most people. He would adjust to human house inhabitants and eventually strangers after they were in the house a while but very few people could touch him. He didn’t bite or scratch any longer, he would just hiss, run and hide. He was a Scottish Fold so everyone wanted to pet or hold him being as cute as he was but he wouldn’t allow it. I felt he was very dependent on me and I became very in tune to his needs to the point of keeping a litter box in my bedroom for when there were visitors in the home which trapped him in my bedroom (my bathroom was too small for a litter box). He was very attached to me and his buddy, Mouse. He lived a great life before my divorce but when we moved and then when I moved him into my current husband’s house (where I was forced to keep the litter box in the bedroom), it was a huge adjustment when a cat turf war began. He died from organ failure right before we moved into our current home where he would have been the only indoor cat. It was time for both of us to let go. I don’t believe that you will have this extreme experience because Sleuth was the purebred offspring of grand champion parents and caged for the first 8 months of his life. He didn’t have the survival skills that most cats are born with. He brought me great joy and I never regretted rescuing him. Best of luck!

      • Lady Joyful says:

        What a story, Patricia. Thank you for sharing it. Hopefully lawjic finds it useful – I’ve heard good things about those Thunder Shirts. Sleuth really sounds like he was a sweetie, and was certainly lucky to have as caring an owner as you 🙂

  6. Mary Strong-Spaid says:

    Hello friend cat lover!
    The last time we moved, the female cat (Siri) did fine but the male cat (Keona) was terribly upset over the loss of HIS domain. He wandered around howling for a few nights, searching for what was gone. Then he adjusted and everything was fine.
    We will be moving soon, and it will be quite a long distance this time. I know this will worry Keona again. He doesn’t like any kind of change. We will make sure that the first things we put in the new house are items that he knows and loves. He likes being in charge.
    On the other hand, I know that Siri will be happy wherever we go, as long as we bring the food. 🙂

  7. Patricia says:

    Great timing! In December, I we are moving our cat to a whole different environment. It is a 24 hour drive that I am not looking forward to. I have done practice runs in the car since he had only been in a car once or twice. He does pretty well but want’s out of his carrier but no matter how much he begs, he will not be let out in a moving car. Unfortunately, we do not know at this point or won’t at that point because we are moving lock, stock and barrel and U-Haul and will settle temporarily until we decide where we want to live. We are moving from the Gulf area of Texas to the Colorado mountains so it will be an adventure. Yodi will probably fair better than my aquarium fish though I have researched and am making preparations for moving them. Yodi is very spoiled so lack of 100% of Danny and my attention will be his biggest problem. I am grateful for your tips, they are ones that I have heard before. Some people recommend placing the cat in a pillow-case but don’t see that happening on a 24 hour trip. I think I will have to adjust to his voice for at lease the first quarter of the trip but since I hate going away without him, it will be comforting in a way.??

    • Lady Joyful says:

      Glad to hear you found the post useful. Best of luck for the move in December, that sounds like it’ll be quite the adventure for you all! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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