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Moving to a New Home with a Cat

ASPCA logoMost cats are not big fans of change. If they could chose, they would prefer to stay where they’re already comfortable and settled in. But, at some point in their lives, most cats must move on to a new location. Making the transition as stress-free as possible for your feline companion can have big benefits, including reducing the risk of fear-based house soiling, excessive meowing and crying, hiding, escape attempts and aggression.

Moving a cat to a new house involves three basic aspects: pre-move preparations, the move itself and settling into the new home. All three sections below apply to a move with a resident pet. The third section is most important if you’re only trying to integrate a new cat into your existing household.

Preparation

  • Allow your cat time to get used to his carrier. Leave it sitting out with the door open and a comfy bed inside. Occasionally leave a couple of cat treats in it so your cat can find them on his own. Start feeding your cat in the carrier. If your cat is reluctant to enter the carrier to eat, start by just placing his dish next to it. After a few days, put the dish just inside the carrier, right near the opening. Then, over a week or two, gradually move the dish toward the back of the carrier so your cat has to step a little further inside each day. Eventually, place the dish at the very back of the carrier to your cat must go all the way into it to eat.
  • Put out your moving boxes a couple weeks before you need to start packing so your cat has time to get used to their presence. If your cat is nervous while you’re packing, he’ll probably be happier closed in a quiet room, away from the activity and noise. It’s also a good idea to confine your cat if you think he might try to hide in one of the boxes.
  • Try to keep your cat’s daily routine as stable as possible. Stick closely to his regular schedule for feeding, play and attention. A feeder with a timer can be helpful to make sure your cat eats at the same time each day.
  • If your cat is very skittish, nervous or easily stressed, speak to your vet about using anti-anxiety medication to make the moving process easier on him.

The Move

  • To prevent your cat from dashing out the door while movers are going in and out, close him in a bathroom with food, water, a bed and litter box. Place a sign on the door asking the movers to keep the door shut.
  • Feed your cat a very small breakfast on moving day to reduce stomach upset.
  • While in transit, resist the urge to open your cat’s carrier to soothe him. A scared cat may try to dash out. Only open the carrier in a secure area and when absolutely necessary.
  • Carry a roll of packing tape in case the carrier needs emergency repairs along the way.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA

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