How Should I Help My Cats Move to a New Home?

CatChannel and CAT FANCY cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains how to help cats adjust to a new house.

By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

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Q: I have two cats: a 10-year-old Persian cat and an 11-year-old Himalayan cat. We will be moving in a couple of months. The only home they know is the one we live in now. How can I make this traumatic move easier for them? I worry about their stress level with everything new.

A: Moving to a new home can be stressful for everyone — people and pets alike. Cats do not do well with change, and moving is a major disruption. You can help your two cats make the transition to the new home with a minimum of stress by preparing the cats before the move and through specific activities when they are finally in your new home.

The first step to help your cats prepare for the move is placing the moving boxes around your house a couple of weeks before starting to pack. Letting your two cats explore and become accustomed to the boxes before packing can help reduce their stress. Encourage your cats to become part of the packing process by playing with them in and around the boxes while packing. After the boxes are packed and it is time to take them outside, confine the cats to one room so that they do not escape while doors are open.

Keeping a consistent routine will also help your two adjust to moving. Feed them at the same times each day. Play, groom, do all of the activities the cats enjoy, maintaining a consistent schedule. After the move, keep to the same routine.

Before bringing your cats to the new home, set up a sanctuary room for them in the new house. The cats will need to stay in their safe room until they are not fearful or agitated and the unpacking is almost complete. Equip the safe room with their cat trees, scratchers, toys, litter boxes, food dishes and other familiar items. Favorite treats will also help your cats' transition quicker to their new home. Place the treats around the room, on furniture and shelves. Additionally, your scent will help reassure the cats. Put items of clothing you have recently worn in their beds and on areas where they sit.

Visit your cats often in their safe room. Read to them, play, groom, cuddle—do all of the activities that your cats enjoy doing. After they seem relaxed and happy in their room and the unpacking and furniture moving is finished, open the door of their room so that they can venture out and explore the rest of the house when they are feeling secure.   
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Reader Comments

Lori    Buffalo, NY

4/14/2014 4:59:00 PM

How long does it typically take for them to adjust and leave their comfort spot (under my bed )? Been in new house just a week but she's still had yet to leave my room. She's even buried herself under my covers which she usually freaks when covered. One other note, she fell from my 2nd story window when she was attempted to be picked up and moved to a large crate (laundry basket). Doesn't seem to he rut by the fall as she's jumping from floor to my bed and not wincing to touch or with movement. Any help greatly appreciated, want my girl back.

LYN    HOUSTON, TX

5/17/2013 3:58:18 PM

THIS IS A GOOD TOPIC. ONCE WHEN I MOVED I LEFT THE CAT IN MY EMPTY APT. SHE MUST HAVE BEEN REALLY SCARED. I COULDN"T FIND HER. AFTER CALLING & CALLING, I FOUND HER IN THE UPPER KITCHEN CABINET.
SHOULD I HAVE TAKEN HER TO MY NEW PLACE IN HER CARRIER?

CatChannel Editor    Irvine, CA

3/21/2013 10:04:32 AM

Ruben -- That's very thoughtful of you to replicate your back yard in your cat's new home. You can also consider bringing your cat inside to your new place; cats are safer indoors, and you will be close to your beloved cat. If you'd like to discuss the matter further with other cat owners, consider posting to our forum at CatChannel.com/Forum

Ruben    Miami, FL

3/20/2013 1:55:18 PM

I rescue my cat when she was 2 month old. She had a broken leg, I took her to the vet to fix it. She's been a free cat in and out the house for 4 years. I had to move to an apartment building and I always thought she would be unhappy there after been free for long time. I gave her to my friends who are living just a few block from the building I live now. I gave them all my patio furniture, rocks, steps for pathways, and all my pot plants to them. I think my cat in some way will recognize everything that was in my patio and it would make her more confident and secure and maybe she wont miss so much he first home. Can someone tell my if what I did was OK.

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