Robert Heinlein once said, “Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.”
Cat owners know that cats are content with the status quo. If they were in charge, they would prefer to stay where they are and never make a change. However, once you've decided to move to a new home, you'll have to try to make the transition as stress-free as you can for your pet. There are three stages in setting up this stress-free move: preparations before the move, the actual move, and settling in to your new home.
Cats are proponents of making their needs and unhappiness known. If you don't think ahead about their move, you may run into fear-based house soiling, excessive crying, hiding, escape attempts and aggression.
Let's start with the preparation. It is important for your cat to get used to being in a carrier. First steps include just bringing it into the house, setting it up with a comfy bed and leaving the door open. Next, you may want to entice it into the carrier with some special treats. Place the cat's food dish near the carrier so that it becomes a familiar, rather than a foreign, object. Begin to move the dish closer to the carrier, then just inside it, and finally all the way to the back. Each day you'll be training your cat to enter the carrier without fear.
During this preparation stage, keep your cat's daily routine stable. If your cat is usually nervous, you may want to speak to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medication for the move.
Tips for the move. Isolate your cat (perhaps in a bathroom) while all the activity of the movers is going on. Add a sign on the door advising that no one enter, if possible. An open door could entice your cat to escape for a more quiet location. The day of the move, feed your cat minimally which will help to reduce any stomach upset. Once your cat is in the carrier, do not open the door while in transit. Your cat may run out and that can cause all sorts of complications to your move.
Moving is stressful for humans, too, but try to stay calm in the presence of your pet. Your cat will pick up on any difference in your frame of mind and react to it.
How to settle your cat in your new home. A naturally curious animal, your cat is bound to explore his new domain. It will help if you can cat-proof the area before you arrive, or just after you arrive: hide loose electrical cords, secure window screens, be sure to check for any pest-control poison traps that the previous owner may have left behind.
Bring the cat into a room that will be quiet during the unpacking procedure while he is still in his carrier. Set up food and water and the litter box and scatter some treats around to encourage some safe exploring. Then open the carrier and allow the cat to emerge on his own schedule. For the first few days, limit his territory to this space. He'll gradually get used to the new sights and smells of the new place. Spend some quality time with your cat in this room playing with him or just being there while you read a book.
Once most of the unpacking is completed, carefully allow your cat access to the rest of the house, perhaps a room at a time. At this point, you can slowly move the cat's food dishes and toys to the permanent location you've chosen for them. You can make your cat feel at home by placing items with his scent in various locations (rubbing cloths on his face and head will release scent from his glands). If your cat enjoys the outdoors, make sure he stays indoors for at least two weeks before allowing any roaming.
If you have any tips on moving with cats, share them with our readers, below!
Image via DosFamily.com