Moving with Cats

young abyssinian cat lying in cardboard box

Be they indoor or outdoor cats, felines love their territory. This is where they get their daily laps in, defend against intruders if required and make themselves comfortable in their favourite spot. When a move with cats is on the agenda, the question is if it will be possible without feline sadness? We'll give you tips!

The new home: Looking for a home

Good planning is half the battle: If you know you are moving home, make plans for your cat in advance. If you're buying or building your own home, this is less of a problem. However, you need the owner's permission if you're renting. Looking for a home with feline companions can somewhat limit your options. In any case, you should make sure that owning cats is permitted in your rental contract.

If you have outdoor cats, you're best off looking for a ground-floor apartment in an area with little traffic. This planning is of course void if you're moving into your partner's home. Nevertheless, in the case of rented properties, you also have to ask the owner if cats are allowed to join you.

The right preparation for moving with cats

If your new home is a long way away, you should probably plan an entire weekend for the move. But it it's only a short distance away, many people tend to move in small stages and commute back and forth for a while.

If you pack your own things into boxes, many cats will love playing in them. Make sure not to leave anything around on which your cat could injure itself. This includes mirrors leaning against the wall or sewing equipment normally found inside a cupboard. You're best off leaving your cat's items be until the day of the move and sticking to your usual routine. This gives your cat a sense of security at a time of upheaval.

Set up your new home in a feline-appropriate way: If there is a balcony, secure it with a feline safety net – the permission of your landlord is required for this too. Pay attention to possible sources of danger and get a tilting window guard if necessary. If you're moving in with someone who has a cat, you can exchange smells by swapping used cuddly blankets.

Help for more relaxation when moving

There's no question that moving is very hectic anyway. Be prepared for your cat to be nervous – some pace restlessly and miaow. Others scratch at doors. Try to radiate calm, because your cat will notice if you appear tense. Some anti-stress aids for cats can make the moving period easier. These include, for instance, plug-in pheromone vapourisers, environmental sprays or zylkene. Special dry food, Bach flowers for cats and anti-stress pastes can also make both the move and the initial period in your new home easier. Get the relevant products a few weeks before the planned move, because some of them need a bit of time for their calming effect to fully come to the fore.

maine coon cat smelling a bathroom towel

The day of the move

Things will presumably be hectic on the day of the move: Lots of people going in and out, your home becoming emptier. Perhaps there will be loud drilling and screwing. If your cat has a second home where it normally goes during your absence, it can stay there on the day of the move. Otherwise, lock your cat in a room as empty as possible with its cuddly blanket and if possible its scratching tree, litter box and bowls. This room should be frequented as little as possible. If the move will take two days, you can let your cat change rooms from time to time. Stay the night there yourself if possible. Your cat's items and your cat itself should only go in the car when your old home has been fully emptied. Use a secure carry case and don't put it in the hold of a removal van. It reassures your cat if you are in its immediate vicinity.

After moving with cats

If you simply move from A to B with your entire household, cats usually get used to their new domicile quickly. Make sure to put cat items like the scratching tree in a similar spot to previously. If it was in the living room before, it should be put there in the new home too. Most cats love good visibility, such as at the window. Litter trays should be in a quiet spot, so not right next to loudspeakers. Bowls should be placed at some distance from litter trays, whilst it is best to put two water bowls in different places.

If you're moving in with a new partner or even a partner and their family, the challenge for your cat is greater. This is also the case when there are already pets living in the new home. In this case – and with small children in the new home too – let your cat explore one room first and relax there. This is the best solution for fundamentally shy cats too. Your feline companion will be pleased to have recognised furniture or rugs with a familiar smell. So equip the first room your cat will explore with as many familiar objects as possible for your feline friend.

Your cat can then discover its new home step by step in the next few days. Some cats hide away for a few days – such as in a cupboard niche or under the bed. Don't force it out, but let it decide for itself when it would like to explore its new surroundings. Senior cats in particular often need longer for adaptation. This is particularly the case when cats' senses deteriorate and they cannot see or hear as well. Give your cat plenty of time – it will surely soon gain trust. Young and confident cats can start exploring the entire home straight away. But don't be surprised if even they first prefer to play things safe and retreat.

cat stretching on the floor

Letting outdoor cats go outside

Outdoor cats should first adapt to their new home before roaming their future territory. This is because the danger of a cat running away is very high in the first few days after the move. It is especially great if you have only moved a few streets away. Your feline friend may attempt to return to its old territory. Once your cat has accepted its new lodgings and feels at ease, you can attempt the first outdoor walks together. Go with your cat at the beginning and call it back inside for food after a short time. It varies from cat to cat when a feline is ready for outdoor access after the move. Not every cat is equally attached to its old territory. Most cats should be ready to start exploring after a month.

If no outdoor access is possible in your new home, this can lead to behavioural problems in outdoor cats. You should at least provide your cat with a secured balcony. Set up your home in a varied way from a cat's perspective and take time every day to play together. Clicker training can also provide some welcome equilibrium.

Tips for moving with cats

  • Space to retreat during the move
  • Transport your cat to its new home by car as the final step
  • Give them plenty of time for adaptation
  • Aids like zylkene or pheromone sprays can have a calming effect
  • Don't let outdoor cats outside for the first few weeks in the new home
  • Slow integration with new housemates
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