Cats hate change. It’s really just as simple as that – they absolutely hate change. So, they are not at all going to take a change as big as moving homes lightly.
But don’t worry. The situation isn’t that helpless for you. There’s plenty you can do to make moving less daunting for your cat and less stressful for you!
If you’re a cat parent who is planning on shifting to a new home, and if you’re worried about how to deal with this big change without stressing your cat out a lot – you’ve come to just the right place.
Read along, as, in this article, we navigate through how your cat may respond to this change, and what are some dos and don’ts that you should follow before, during, and after moving to a new home.
How Will My Cat Respond to Moving Houses?
Cats are keen observers, and they are lovers of routine. So, your cat will start observing changes long before the actual day of moving arrives.
Since cats do not fare well with changes, your cat is likely to show some strange behaviors out of stress. Some weird behaviors that you can expect before, during, and after moving to the new home are:
1. Extreme Clinginess
Your cat may become very clingy. It may start following you around the house, and want more physical vicinity than it normally does. This may be due to stress and anxiety.
2. Changes in Appetite
This is something you can expect after you have moved to the new home. For the first few days in the new territory, your cat may eat more or less amount of food, more or less frequently.
However, this should resume to normal levels a few weeks after moving. If the problem persists, you should consult your vet, as changes in appetite may sometimes indicate some underlying medical conditions as well.
3. Vocalization and Meowing
Excess vocalization and meowing could also be a sign that your cat is expressing displeasure at the changes happening.
Be sure to first rule out any medical conditions such as kidney or liver issues, as vocalization is an unusual but not uncommon symptom of certain health problems.
You will surely like to read about how long does it take a cat to adjust to new home
What Can I Do to Make the Move Easier for My Cat?
While it’s true that cats aren’t very well with even small changes in their routine, and that moving houses will be a very daunting experience for them, there is plenty you can do to make this transition easier.
The first and foremost thing you must do is have a lot of patience with your cat, as this entire endeavor is going to be stressful for your furry baby.
During this period of transition, you are going to be the only source of comfort and safety for your cat. Be gentle and patient with it as it tries to adjust to all the changes.
You can make this transition easier for your cat by planning ahead and taking active steps before, during, and after the move.
Things You Can Do Before the Move
Cats are keen observers. They will sense the smaller changes in their environment before you even start the process of moving in full flow.
This is why it is better to plan and start preparing your cat for moving long before D-Day arrives. This should be fairly simple to handle as your cat is still on its home turf.
Some things you should undertake to prepare your cat for the move include:
1. Help your cat to get comfortable with its carrier
Naturally, the first big change your cat will need to get used to is spending more time than usual in its carrier. So, it is a good practice to make your cat comfortable with the carrier to avoid any hassle during the travel.
This step is especially important if your cat has a certain dislike towards carriers. You must have observed how your cat responds to carriers from its short visits to the vet or elsewhere; so, if yours is one fussy cat, this is your chance to make it feel a little at ease inside the carrier.
The more scared your cat is, the earlier you will want to start this process of acclimatization.
You can encourage your cat to go into the carrier by keeping it open in a room your cat frequents. Keep its favorite toys in the carrier. You may even want to start feeding regular meals near, or inside, the carrier to make your cat feel safe inside.
2. First get the boxes for play, then start the packing
Cats love cardboard boxes. So, this step should be fairly easy for you to follow.
Instead of directly beginning with the entire hustle and bustle of packing your things, start small. Start by first having a few empty boxes lying around the house. Let your cat explore and get used to having boxes in its immediate surroundings.
Gradually, start packing your things into boxes while leaving a few extra empty boxes for your cat to play with.
3. Talk to your vet
If your cat is prone to emotional or physical troubles induced by stress, you should consult your vet for any precautions to be taken before the move.
Stress can often have physical impacts – it may cause your cat to have tummy issues, changes in appetite, and changes in the sleep cycle. The anxiety of moving can also become overwhelming for your cat, especially if it is known to be a little sensitive to any kind of change.
Your vet may prescribe some anti-anxiety medicines and may suggest changes in nutrition and lifestyle a few days prior to moving. This might help reduce the emotional and physical symptoms of stress and make the move easier for your cat
4. Update the microchip
This is perhaps the most important thing you must take care of before you move into the new home. Update the contact details of your cat’s microchip. This will ensure safety when your cat explores its new neighborhood.
5. Maintain a proper routine in the days preceding the move
In the days preceding the move, you’ll have a lot on your plate. From packing to handling logistics, moving is a whole lot of work.
This may cause some changes in your routine. But try and keep a consistent routine with your cat as you slowly introduce it to the changes associated with the move.
Keep the meal times consistent, spend some time with your cat, and allow it to feel at ease through the changes.
Things You Can Do During the Move
During the move, especially on D-Day and the night before, there will be more hassle than normal in your house. This can cause your cat to feel extremely stressed or anxious. But you can help ease some of its discomforts if you keep just a few things in mind:
1. Feed your cat a small meal
Cutting down on the meal amount will help avoid any motion sickness. Try and give your cat a meal at least 2 to 3 hours before the move, and not immediately before hitting the road.
Consult your vet in case you feel your cat needs some medication for digestion, as stress can cause tummy issues in your cat.
2. Keep your cat contained as you prepare
While loading the vehicle and preparing for the move, keep your cat contained in a small room with its litterbox, bed, and favorite toys. A good practice is to shut the door and have a word of warning written that the door must be kept shut as there’s a cat inside.
Keeping your cat in a single room will allow you to go about your tasks easily. There’s a lot to do on the day of the move, and amidst that chaos, it can get difficult to soothe an anxious cat.
Locking your cat in a room temporarily will ease its anxiety because the room will have all of its familiar objects such as its bed, litterbox, and toys. Moreover, it will prevent your cat from running off outdoors. Having a lot of bustles in the house, especially with new visitors (the packers and movers), can make your cat a flight risk.
Make sure to check up on your cat at regular intervals so that it doesn’t get scared as to why it is suddenly being kept in a room all alone.
3. Loading in the carrier
Load your cat in the carrier only right before you get into the vehicle for moving. Locking your cat in a crate long before you’re ready to move can make your cat feel uneasy. Let your cat rest in a room while you go about doing the required chores. And once you’re ready to move, get your cat in the crate.
And as much as you’ll want to get your cat outside from time to time, while in transit keep your cat locked in the carrier. It is risky to let your cat out of the carrier or crate when you’re traveling. And if at all you must let it out, make sure your cat has a proper body harness so that it doesn’t run away.
And most importantly, have calm body language. Animals pick up on such cues. So, the calmer you are, the easier it will be for your cat during the transit.
Things You Can Do After the Move
Once you have settled in the new home, you’ll need to help your cat to adjust to its new surroundings. Your cat might not take an instant liking to the new surroundings. Don’t worry. That’s normal.
While it all boils down to a cat’s personality, the time your cat needs to adjust to the new home can be reduced if you help your cat settle in properly.
Here are a few things you can do to make your cat feel at ease and speed up the process of adjusting to the new home:
1. Establish a safe room
In one of the rooms, set up all of your cat’s familiar objects – the litterbox, bed, toys, favorite blankets, some clothes that have your scent, etc. This will make your cat feel at ease in at least one room of the new home.
Taking the entirely new environment in all at once will be overwhelming for your cat. So, a better way will be to first let your cat adjust to just one of the rooms. Take it slow.
2. Give your cat the space it needs
Let your cat first get used to the safe room. Then, at its own pace and level of comfort, allow it to explore the other rooms. Don’t rush the process.
Keep a calming atmosphere at home. Be gentle with your cat as it navigates this change. You’ll need to have patience because rushing your cat will only cause more harm.
3. Introduce one room at a time
Let your cat explore one room at a time and get used to the new environments. Once your cat is settled in its safe room, it will want to explore the house. Take your cat to every room of the house one at a time.
If you can, then accompany your cat into the new rooms. If you cannot always be available for that, then at least leave a few familiar objects such as toys or your clothes around the new home – the scent and familiarity of these things will make it easier for your cat to get comfortable in the new territory.
4. Establish a routine
Give it food at certain times of day, and play with it at other times.
In the first few weeks, establish a routine. This will return the feelings of safety and order within your cat.
As your cat gets used to its new surroundings, establishing a set routine will help reduce your cat’s feelings of anxiety and disorientation.
Moreover, you can make use of routines to help your cat acclimatize itself. For instance, give it meals at certain specific times of the day in one specific location of the house.
5. Keep your cat indoors for the first few weeks
For at least 3 weeks, keep your cat indoors and do not leave it outside unattended. Take your cat with you to explore the neighborhood. Ensure there aren’t any poisonous plants or risky crossroads in the area.
Then, allow your cat outdoors for short intervals of time right before dinner. This will encourage your cat to come inside sooner.
Once your cat is confident and secure in the new environment, it can resume its playtime and exploration activities.
6. Be very patient and gentle with your cat
It is normal for cats to become extra clingy with their owners in the first few days of living in the new home.
Your cat may demand more of your attention than it normally does. This is because you are its only source of comfort and familiarity in the new surroundings. Be patient, and give your cat the attention it needs. It will help him adjust to the new home in a better way.
When you keep a calm body language around the house, your cat will pick up from your cues and start finding a sense of safety in the new home and territory.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take for my cat to adjust to the new home?
Cats usually take about 2 to 5 days to adjust to a new environment. However, it all boils down to the cat’s personality. Be patient with your cat as it adapts to the new territory.
Is it a good idea to move with cats?
While sometimes it is unavoidable to move to a new place, more often than not, it is not advisable to move frequently if you have a cat. Cats do not fare well with changes, and moving from house to house frequently can cause your cat to become chronically stressed or anxious.
Why is one of my cats struggling to adjust to the new home when the other has already adjusted?
That is because every cat has a different personality. Some cats are more sensitive to change than others. So, it is perfectly normal for your cats to take their own time adjusting. The presence of their buddy cats will surely ease the process.
Moving to a new home can be a stressful and intimidating experience for cats. During this period of transition, be patient and gentle with your cats. Do not rush their process of adjusting. Let them take their own time.
Let your cats go at their own pace at adjusting to the new surroundings. Give them the space they need, and be patient when they get a little too demanding of your attention.
With a little planning and patience, you can make this move an easy and less intimidating event for your cat.