Cats can find moving house particularly stressful. It's a well known fact that cats hate change. And there's not much bigger a life change than moving house! Cats can be especially affected by a house move so make sure you take special steps to ensure your feline friend doesn't get too stressed out and also settles in as quickly as possible to your new house.
We've laid out some of the most effect things you can do below, so take a look in advance of removals day to ensure your cat remains happy and secure throughout the upheaval. Then you can just look forward to spending some quality time with your moggie in your new home!
Before the move
In the weeks before a house move, most peoples' houses look quite a mess! It can be hard to move around, and can be especially stressful to a cat who is used to things being a certain way. A good idea is to designate one room as the one you'll tackle right at the last minute, so your cat still has somewhere to chill out and feel secure! Put some of your clothes in there so they pick up your scent. Make sure you regularly put food down and provide plenty of fresh water and - if there's not a litter tray in there - you let your cat out to the toilet.
About a week before you move, place the container you'll be transporting your cat in on the floor and put a blanket with your scent on inside. Allow the cat to explore the container freely and encourage him or her to sleep in there. This will give them more confidence on the big day.
On the day of the move
In the early morning, put your cat in one room with the windows and doors shut. This will keep him away from dangerous situations, for example causing your removals men to trip up and hurt him or break your possessions. It'll also stop your move getting delayed if he decides to go walkabout.
Make sure he's got plenty of water, a litter tray and food, although you shouldn't provide that much food or feed him just before your journey in case he becomes ill!
Ensure your family and your removals company know to keep the door of the cat's room shut.
Just before you leave, place a familiar blanket in your carrier and place your cat inside, and put him in the car. Secure with a seat belt, but don't put the carrier in the boot.
Offer water and the litter tray regularly, particularly if your journey is a long one.
If you stop, don't leave your cat in the car with the windows wound up - heat can quickly turn the car into an oven. Take your cat with you or leave a window partially down.
At your new house
Keep your cat in the carrier until your removals men leave.
Stock an empty room with food, water and a litter tray and leave your cat in there until everything is settled.
A familiar blanket is a plus point at this point. If the room is very cold a hot water bottle inside the blanket can help a lot.
Once the removals men have left allow your cat to explore the house, but make sure all windows and doors are closed. If your cat is nervous, you may wish to let him explore only a couple of rooms, or just upstairs.
After the move
Your cat's temperament will dictate how you handle the settling in period following your move - indoor cats may find the upheaval more stressful than outdoor cats. Some cats may act as though nothing has happened and some may really find the first few months stressful. Remember that cats mark their territory with scents from their glands, so you'll see him rubbing his face up against furniture regularly. This should be encouraged; you can even rub a soft cloth on the cat's face and use it to artifically spread his scent, widening the reach gradually.
A routine is an essential part of the adjustment period. Provide small, regular meals to ensure your cat returns to you at specific times. This will encourage your moggie to view the new house as a source of nourishment and love.
Your cat, whether it's an outdoor or indoor cat, should be kept inside for between 2 and 4 weeks following your house move to lessen the chance of him running away. Ask your vet to advise if you're unsure. After this period, don't feed him for around 12 hours and let him out, just into your back garden. Stay with him and return indoors after 20 or so minutes. Repeat the process several times, venturing a little bit further out each time. If your cat is not already microchipped, now is a good time to get it done.
Some cats will return to their old home if they don't feel the new house is truly their home. Of course this will only happen if you've only moved a few miles from your old home, but it can be a problem. If this happens, ask the occupants of your old house to completely ignore your cat or chase him away. Spread your cat's scent around your new house more vigorously, and join your cat when he explores outside to encourage him to return home.
Last but not least, remember to register with a vet in your local area. Good luck with your house move, and we hope your cat settles in as quickly as you do.