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How to keep your cat calm when moving house

Posted by Dr Claire Jenkins on Nov 20, 2015 9:34:35 AM
Dr Claire Jenkins

My cat loves change. Said no one ever!

 Cats tend to like a predictable routine and familiar space but the reality is most cats will need to undergo a move of house at some stage in their life. So we know they won’t love it but how can we make the transition be seamless as possible? I’ve put together some steps to help, but planning is essential and it all starts a few weeks prior to the actual move.

1. Get your kitty comfortable with the carrier: Permanently have the carrier out. Have the door open, try placing treats, toys and catnip inside so she is tempted to go in. Try feeding her meal near the carrier for positive associations. Don’t shut the cage let her wonder in and out.

2. Routine: Keep it the same or as consistent as possible leading up to the move, whilst packing and of course, on arrival to your new abode.

3. Make sure your fur kid cannot escape on moving day! This step is often forgotten, your cat knows all is not normal and fleeing might be their favoured option. Keep in a small room with food, water and litter tray and instructions on the door so everyone knows there’s a cat on the loose!

4. Pheromones: Feliway is a synthetic happy and calming pheromone for cats. It comes in a spray and a diffuser that plugs in to the outlet. I’d be using this on the carrier like cheap perfume! Pre, during and post move.

5. New home: Confine her to a quiet, smallish area in the new place initially. Open the carrier in the new spot and let her come out when she wants, keep the carrier in there. This is less stressful for your cat as they become familiar with their new space- allowing too much exploration will only be overwhelming. Preferably non carpeted, in case of inappropriate weeing or pooping in response to stress. This will be her safe spot and she should stay in here a number of days until she is showing that she is confident in this space and your unpacking is finished. Then you can slowly increase her freedom.

6. Enrich her environment: Plenty of spots to hide (cardboard boxes with an entry and an exit is a great trick), try cat grass for chewing. Favourite toys. You. Spend plenty of time with her, you may just sit and read, don’t put any pressure on her to come out until she’s ready.

7. Same, Same: Litter tray/s with the same substrate, same food bowl, same bedding, same mat, you get the idea.

8. Medications: If you have a very stressed or anxious cat it may be necessary to have medications prescribed by your veterinarian. These are best started pre move and really depends on the temperament of your kitty.

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Topics: Behaviour, cat anxiety, moving a cat, moving your pet