First published on Petspyjamas.com June 2016
Moving house is an exciting time for us humans, but it can also be a really stressful experience – so just imagine how our cats will feel about it! They won’t understand all the upheaval as you pack and move, and then there’s the completely new territory, with new sights and smells. You can understand why our furry friends can find it scary.
As cat parents we all know how much they love their routine, so any change is likely to confuse them. Apart from the stress moving causes, it could also result in puss getting lost, because despite the fact they generally have amazing instincts, a new area is bound to be disorientating. If you’re thinking you’ll just put butter on your cat’s paws to make sure it comes home again, we’re sorry to say that’s just an old wives’ tale!
There’s no need to panic if you’re moving house though, because these four simple steps will help your cat settle into your new home with the minimum of fuss, meaning happy endings all round.
Step 1: Moving day.
When the big day comes, keep your cat in one room so she doesn’t get stressed out by all the noise and chaos – as well as making sure she doesn’t slip out of the front door and do a disappearing act. Make sure your movers know they’re inside by putting a sign on the door so they don’t let her out by mistake. The last thing you need is the worry of finding your cat on what’s already a stressful day!
Step 2: Settling in.
Your cat should be the last to move in, so make sure there’s a quiet room set up and waiting with familiar furniture so the room doesn’t smell too strange, and all the essentials like a bed, litter tray, food and water. She should stay in there while everything is being unpacked, with a pheromone or calming plug-in, and if your cat’s favourite human family member could spend some time in there too, even better!
Step 3: Starting to explore.
Once the human family starts settling in to the new home, it’s time to for your cat to start to explore too. It’s important to take it slowly, letting her investigate each room as and when she’s ready. Don’t forget it might still seem a little bit too much, so keep the door to the dedicated ‘cat room’ open in case she panics and want to return there. Give your cat as much reassurance as you can in the form of play and lovely cuddles, so she knows you’re still there for her and nothing important has changed. That wonderful bond you have with your cat plays a huge part in making new things seem normal to her.
Step 4: Getting out and about!
Keep your cat indoors for at least two weeks after you move to help her get used to this strange new territory. When you decide to start letting her out, you’ll still need to take it fairly slowly – think seriously about getting a tracker like a Tabcat (www.mytabcat.com) if you don’t already have one, just in case!
To make it easier for your cat (and you; we know how scary it is when they run off for the first time!), you can start letting her out in the garden or outside space with you there. You’ll probably find that she doesn’t want to go very far at first, and when she does, it’ll start off as short distances. Here’s a good trick, if you only let your cat out just before mealtimes to start off with, she won’t travel very far!
So, you’ve followed all the steps, but what happens if your cat still goes missing? Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, it’s just that, well, cats will be cats, as we all know! If she wears a cat tracker you can use that to find her. If not, hopefully your cat is microchipped. Whilst it won’t help you find her, it makes it a bit easier to reunite you if the cat gets taken in to a vet or rescue. Here (link to previous article) are some other ideas for getting your cat home safe and sound if the move leads to a missing moggy.
We only ever want the best for our cats, so it’s natural to be concerned if they’re stressed. Try not to worry too much, because with a bit of planning you’ll settle your cat in no time at all. By following these tips you’ll make sure that your cat will soon be relaxed, happy and back to her normal tricks – yes, even those 5am wake-up calls (the perfect kitty breakfast time!). Don’t forget to look into getting a Tabcat to give you that little bit of extra peace of mind, safe in the knowledge that if your cat doesn’t come home straight away, you’ve got a good chance of finding her.