Moving with cats can stir up a whirlwind of emotions, not only for us but also for our four legged companions. Changing locales is an exciting and thrilling time for us humans, but cats can experience fear, anxiety, and even anger when forced to adapt to a new environment.
My cat and I recently moved eight hours south of our hometown, and during the move I could tell my cat Donald was nervous and anxious. Naturally, I became very concerned for him. I thought, "How will the little guy take to his new surroundings? Will the long car ride traumatize him for life? What if he doesn't like the new house?"
Well, after plenty of research and expert consultation, I can't count the number of Donald's“meows" I've heard since settling in. It took a few days for Donald to warm up to his new digs, but he adapted swiftly and is now back to his pouncing, purring self.
Here are some important lessons I learned about moving with cats that I hope will ease your transition with your cat:
- Cats, at least all the ones I've met, hate cars. Contact your veterinarian to seek advice on ways to minimize your cat's stress. Your vet may prescribe a mild anti-anxiety medication to help ease your cat's car phobia.
- If you've ever tried to feed your cat a pill, you know it can be harder than the car ride itself. “Pill Pockets" are a great way to provide your cat with the medication he needs. I used the "Greenies" brand and it worked magnificently.
- On moving day, limit your cat's food and water intake to minimize rest stops. We completed our eight-hour trip without needing one bathroom break for Donald. Keep a small litter box in the backseat, just in case.
- Make sure your cat's carrier is comfortable and secured by a seatbelt. Position the front of the carrier toward a familiar face so your cat doesn't feel abandoned.
- Once you've arrived at your new home, secure your cat in a small room away from the noise and chaos of unpacking. Let him explore at his own pace and never force him into areas that he is not comfortable going to on his own.
- Put out food and water in familiar bowls. Your cat probably won't have an appetite until he feels a bit more settled. Spread out familiar toys and make sure the house is clear from any residual moving debris that could harm your cat. Leave a box or two lying around; your cat will appreciate it.
Hopefully these tips and anecdotes from my personal experience will help ease the transition for you and your cat. With a little preparation and planning, beginning a new chapter can be an exciting and rewarding experience for you and your cat.