Kitties are actually quite sensitive little creatures, despite their fierce fangs and claws. Heck, plenty of cats get freaked out when you just move a piece of furniture! So if you’re moving with cats, there will be a lot of new sounds, sensations, smells, and routine changes that can bring out the worst in your kitties. This is especially true if you’re furnishing a new place from scratch.
Here are five tips to help your cats feel right at home, throughout your moving process.
1. Create a Kitty Safe Space
Start this before any of your moving activities even begin. First, figure out which part of your home will be the quietest and most secluded once all the packing begins. Many cats like to camp out in closets or under the couch. Next, create a safe spot for them, using a carrier or a cardboard box with a blanket on top. Cats tend to feel safer when they’re near a wall and when they have a small space to hide in. Remember to face their box towards a corner and seal up one end. If your cat is in a room with a door, tape a sign to the door so that movers know not to disturb them. Then, slowly begin migrating their food, toys, and water to that area. Don’t disturb them inside. It’s important that they associate their new spot with safety!
2. Use Pheromone Spray
This is a tried and true solution for calming anxious kitties. Feliway is a popular brand, and you can opt for a misting spray version or use a diffuser. It works by mimicking a chemical that kitties emit when they’re feeling calm. Use this to introduce some relaxing vibes if you’re moving with cats. If your cat is especially anxious, you can also talk with your vet about anti-anxiety medication or other temporary calming aids, like a mild sedative for the car ride.
3. Build in Kitty Recovery Time
If you can, try to batch your moving activities! This helps give your cats’ nervous systems a chance to recuperate from all the stimulation. While packing (or unpacking in your new place), try to do it one room at a time. Then, do something quiet like read a book while you let the cats out to explore the changes. Another great way to minimize the scary sounds when moving with cats is to fill all your boxes up first, and then do all the taping at the same time. The ripping of tape and shuffling of boxes can be startling to cats, but confining it to just a couple hours can help your cats manage better. And don’t forget to offer affection! You and your cat can help each other stay balanced and grounded during your moving process.
4. Make a Kitty Transition Plan, Door-to-Door
You’ve probably already figured out where the litter box will go in your new place. But have you thought about where the litter box will be in your old place? It needs to be available for your cat until the very last minute of your move. Moving with cats is complicated! Here’s a secret tip: when moving day actually comes around, feed your cats a smaller meal (it’s easier on anxious tummies). If your cat is microchipped, definitely make sure that your contact information is up to date, just in case they escape. If you are relocating across the country and your cat will be flying, make sure to talk with the airlines about their animal policies and what to expect.
One good option is to send your cats away to a friend’s house for a week or two. You know your cats best, so try to imagine which option they would they find more stressful. Scenario one is the babysitter, where the kitties have to endure two car rides (to their babysitter, and then to your new place) and a whole week away from you. But the benefit is that your cats get to avoid the noise and stress of moving, like the tape ripping, the loud movers, and the noisy cleaning machines. You simply bring them home once you’re all settled in your new place. Alternately, if they stay at home with you, your cats get to keep their routines and familiar spaces. However, they have to deal with the stresses of packing, cleaning, and unpacking in two separate places.
Upon arrival in their new home, apply classic tips for moving with cats like confining them to a small room in your new place (like a bedroom or bathroom) with their litter and food. Then you can slowly introduce them to the rest of the house by hiding treats around the house. It can also be helpful to gently rub a cloth on your cat’s cheeks, and then rub that cloth on low places around the house. This helps spread their scent and encourages calm exploration. Try to supervise their explorations at first. Lots of kitties will try to squeeze into too-small spaces, like the gap behind the oven, or spaces with electrical wires. Anxious kitties might even try to push through a window screen. When moving with cats, keep an extra close eye on your feline friends for the first couple weeks.
5. Manage Your Body Language
Finally, your anxiety can magnify your cats’ anxiety. So try to speak in low soothing tones, and breathe deeply and calmly. Stay physically relaxed throughout the moving and unpacking process. Your cats look to you to know if it’s safe or not, so your body language can actually help them feel more comfortable! This tip can have a bigger impact than you might think. So don’t set down their food bowls like you’re in a rush. Move slowly and gently, and continue to offer fun, low-stress playtime activities with you. If you’re moving with cats, the sooner you yourself settle in, the sooner your kitties will start to feel right at home.
We know you and your kitties will be just fine. Relocating can be stressful on nervous systems and mental health, especially if you’re moving with cats. Nevertheless, it’s an exciting step forward. You’ve got this!
Best of luck with your upcoming move!