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Relocating with your cat

Cats develop strong bonds with their environment so house moves are potentially stressful. Planning ahead will ensure that the transition from one home to another goes smoothly. After all, this is a traumatic time for you and one less worry would be a good thing!

Moving out and moving in:

  • Before the removal van arrives, it is advisable to place your cat in one room — the ideal location would be a bedroom
  • Put the cat carrier, cat bed, food bowl, water bowl and litter tray in this room and ensure the door and windows remain shut
  • Place a notice on the door so that movers and family members know that this door should be kept shut
  • When all other rooms have been emptied, the contents of the bedroom can be placed in the van last. Before the furniture is removed, your cat should be placed in the cat carrier and put safely in the car to make the journey to the new home
  • The bedroom furniture should be the first to be installed in the new home
  • Offer your cat some cat food
  • Once you're moved in, your cat can be allowed to investigate the rest of the house one room at a time
  • It is important to remain as calm as possible to signal to your cat that it is a safe environment.
  • Ensure that all external doors and windows are shut
  • Be cautious about allowing your cat unsupervised access to the kitchen or utility room as particularly nervous cats will often seek refuge in narrow gaps behind appliances
  • If your cat is particularly anxious, it may be advisable to place him in a professional kennel the day before the move and then pick him up the day after you are established in your new home

Transporting:

  • If your cat is an anxious traveler, you may wish to speak to your veterinarian before the journey; a mild sedative may be prescribed
  • Feed your cat as normal but ensure the mealtime is at least three hours before travelling
  • Transport your cat in a safe container, i.e., a cat basket or carrier
  • Spray the inside of the cat carrier with synthetic feline facial pheromones (ask your veterinarian) an hour before you place your cat inside
  • Place the carrier in a seat and secure with the seat belt, in the well behind the seat or wedged safely on the back seat so that it cannot move around
  • Do not transport your cat in cargo space of a car or moving truck
  • If it is a long journey, you may want to stop and offer water or a chance to eliminate, although most cats will not be interested
  • If it is a hot day, make sure the car is well ventilated; never leave the cat inside a hot car if you stop for a break

Helping your cat settle in:

  • Keep your cat indoors for at least two weeks to get used to the new environment
  • Provide small frequent meals
  • Maintain routines adopted in your previous house to provide continuity and familiarity
  • Help your cat feel secure in his new home by spreading his scent throughout the house. Take a soft cotton cloth (or use lightweight cotton gloves) and rub your cat gently around the cheeks and head to collect the scent from glands around his face. Rub this cloth or glove against the corners of doorways, walls and furniture at cat height to help your cat to become familiar with his territory as quickly as possible. Repeat this process daily until you start to see your cat rubbing against objects
  • Extra care should be given to an indoor cat because a new environment will be potentially unsettling