We think of moving house with children as being potentially complicated and fraught with additional challenges. But sometimes we forget that at least with children, there’s the possibility of being able to talk to them and have them understand the process. How different that becomes when animals enter the picture. Science still hasn’t devised a way to make inter-species verbal communication possible, so we’re left to guess what it is our pets are trying to say to us. And there’s no way of involving them in the moving process so that they feel less intimidated by it. Cats, those flighty, mysterious, semi-self-sufficient animals, are particularly prone to being annoyed by a house-move. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to smooth things over and keep them sweet. Here’s our Master Remover guide to relocating with your feline companions.
Can You Move House With A Cat?
Cats derive a lot of their sense of security from being in familiar territory. The sights, sounds and smells of their own surroundings help them relax and maintain a cheerful outlook on life. Consequently, moving house can really upend them, leaving them nervy, agitated, cross and even frightened. They may also pick up on the stress that you’re going through as you get ready to move. The secret is a bit of foreword planning.
On the day of the move, you have the option either of taking your cats with you or keeping them temporarily at a local cattery. Every cat has its own foibles, and you may be able to get a sense of which option is going to suit you both best. If you opt for the cattery, then it needs to be arranged well in advance in case your cat’s vaccinations have expired and new ones need to be organised. On the upside, you won’t have to fret about your cats on moving day and can simply get on with your move as if it were a normal one (assuming any move can really be described as ‘normal’).
But, yes, the answer is that you certainly can move with your cat present, although there are things you need to bear in mind. The first thing to do is choose a room in your existing home. Clear all the furniture from it a fortnight before the move. Meanwhile, choose a room in your new house where you cat can stay on arrival. If you can, pick out-of-the-way rooms which allow your cat to be left without disturbance. Around a week before you leave, help your cat get used to their room. Bring a litter tray, sleeping area, blanket and cat carrier into the room. Feed them in that room, too, all the while building up their familiarity with it. The night before moving day, bring the scratching post, water bowl and all toys into the room and then lock your cat in there. If you’re dealing with multiple cats, and they don’t get on with each other, you will need to allocate additional rooms for them and repeat the same steps. Any anxiety on your cats’ part can be stilled by using synthetic pheromones available from the vet
Day of the Move
If you’re pursuing the cattery option, get your fur baby installed at the cattery the day before, so that it’s not distressed by any moving-day chaos. If you’re keeping it with you, it should stay in its special room with something to eat, water, a fresh litter tray and a firmly closed door. Once it’s time to set out, the cat should go into its carrier and into a car with all its toys and belongings in attendance. You could spray the carry device with more of the pheremones a few minutes prior to putting the cat inside. Some cats are bad travellers and have a tendency to throw up. If yours is in this category, then don’t feed it during the four hours before the journey.
At the new property, take your cat to its new special room and set it up much like the one at the old property. You could also consider leaving in the room a piece of your worn clothing or something that contains traces of your smell. This can have a pacifying effect. Leave something to eat, and, of course, the litter tray and all the toys, and then lock the door behind you. Make sure all removals personnel know not to disturb the room.
How Long Should You Keep Your Cat In After Moving House?
Your cat should stay in its own room for several days. If a cat has the run of the property straight away, it can be daunting for them. Cats have their ways of letting you know when they’re ready to roam further, so look out for signs. Once you let your cat explore further, make sure you still keep windows, doors and any cat-flaps closed. It’s still not time to let them outside. Also, make sure they always have access to their special room, where they can retreat when things get too much. Keeping your cat inside is vital at this point. Cats who get outside too early have a greater likelihood of going missing. They can sometimes even find their way back to their old properties. So the rule of thumb is three weeks minimum of being kept inside. By that time, they’ve built up a sense of the scents, sights and sounds and will regard the new home as theirs.
When you finally let your cat out, do it just before breakfast or dinner. That way, your cat is hungry and will gravitate back towards the home. Step outside with your cat and let it explore, leaving the door back into the home open. Give your cat just a short excursion the first few times. And, of course, make sure your cat is microchipped before any of this occurs, ensuing that your name/address details have been updated on the microchip database.
Do You Put Butter On Cats’ Paws?
No – this is not strictly necessary and nor is it advised (or warned against) by the Cats Protection charity.
Do Cats Come Back If They Run Away?
Sometimes, yes. But it’s better to guard against this possibility by observing the steps mentioned under the ‘Day of the Move’ heading.