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How to move house with a cat

how to move house with a cat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re keen to know how to move house with a cat then you’ve come to the right place. Planning a home move can be stressful for everybody involved, and it can be easy to overlook the effect it will have on the smallest members of your family. Moving to a new territory can be tricky for our feline companions to get to grips with, but there’s lots of things you can do to make the whole process a lot easier than it might otherwise be. 

Ideally, you’ll start preparing your kitty for a house move in advance of the actual moving day. Getting them used to the idea and using calming methods will make the process a lot smoother than trying to calm an already anxious cat. There are also steps you can take during the process, and plenty you’ll need to be aware of after you’ve completed the move too. 

Happily, we’ve got lots of advice here for you to ease you through your next house move, so hopefully everything will be stress-free for everybody involved. 

How to move house with a cat: Before the move 

A few days to a few weeks before the move, you can start preparing your home and your cat for what is to come.

1. It’s a good idea to limit your cat’s movements to just one room at least a few days before your move. Make it as cozy and as warming as possible, with their favorite blanket, and access to a litter tray and fresh water at all times. Keeping them restricted in this way saves them from the hustle, bustle, and chaos of the packing and moving process going on elsewhere, hopefully keeping them as calm as possible. 

2. You could also invest in some calming diffusers to create a general atmosphere of calm at your current house, something which you can also have at your new house to create a sense of continuity. Install these in the weeks leading up to your house move.

3. It’s important to keep to your usual routine with your cat as much as possible during this time of change. Where possible, feed them at the same time as usual, let them out at the same time as usual (if you do), and so on. Make sure to reserve some time for play and affection too. 

4. If you’re going to be moving a significant distance away, take the time to register with a new vet before you move home so that’s all ready exactly when you might need it. 

5. Lastly, if you’re using a cat carrier to transport your cat (recommended if your new home is even just a few miles away), place the cat carrier in the same room as your cat to get them used to it. They might even take to using it as a bed, and won’t come to associate it with trips to the vet or other less than pleasant experiences. 

Make sure everybody in your family knows that you’re restricting your cat to one room, and make every effort to keep them inside.

It’s worth putting up a sign on the door for movers / workers etc so they know not to disturb them either – it’s a good way to reduce the risk of your cat accidentally escaping too. 

how to move house with a cat

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to move house with a cat: During the move

Before your cat is given unrestricted access at the new place, you might want to spend some time giving it a good clean, especially if another cat has been living at the property. Pay attention to areas at 'cat height', such as walls and so on, as this will be where the strongest smells are. 

You could also try rubbing a soft cloth on your cat’s face and then rubbing it on furnishings and walls in the new house in order to 'scent transfer' and make the settling in process a lot easier.

It’s a wise idea to unpack as much of your belongings as possible before introducing your cat to the new home, as this will reduce how much you disturb them. 

If it’s not possible to do that, once again look for a space or a room that your cat can exist in away from the rest of the house when they first arrive. In this room or area, again place all of their things, including a litter tray and bedding, to get them settled in as much as you can first.

Check to see how secure your new property is for your cat – look out for any possible escape routes, especially in the garden or outside spaces, as you won’t want to let outdoor cats roam for a while yet. 

how to move house with a cat

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to move house with a cat: After the move

It’s important to take things slowly and patiently with your cat after a move. Trying to rush things won’t do anybody any favors, so try as much as you can to be led by your kitty. 

If it seems like the cat has coped well after a couple of days with just one area of the house, you can now start letting them explore other areas. Place multiple items of the cat’s around the house, including several litter trays and bedding. 

Give them time and space to explore at their own pace, and don’t be too worried or stressed if you find they are a little anxious or start to hide under or in things. They will come out when they’re good and ready, and when they’re feeling more confident about their surroundings. 

If you have an outdoor space, such as a garden or yard, it’s a good idea to spread some used cat litter around its perimeter to get neighborhood cats used to a new feline in town. 

Is it safe to move house with a cat?

It’s worth considering placing your cat into a cattery or perhaps with a trusted friend for the duration of your house move, especially if it’s going to take more than a few hours (for example if it’s a big move across borders). That way, you can make sure all of it takes place without having to worry about your cat getting stressed, going missing, or otherwise getting in the way. 

It will also allow you prepare the new house fully for their arrival, with the ideas listed above.

Once again, sticking to your cat’s routine is paramount also where possible. Feeding them at the same times once they’ve arrived at the new place and are starting to settle in is really important.

How long does it take for a cat to get used to a new home?

A common question for house movers is how long should you keep cats in when you move. The answer here is at least 2-3 weeks, especially if you’ve moved a considerable distance away – your cat needs plenty of time to create a strong connection to their new home. 

Once you’ve waited a while, it’s likely you’ll also want to know how to keep a cat from running away when you move home. Cats have a very strong homing instinct, and if you’ve only moved a few streets away, you might find that they naturally gravitate towards your old place – making sure the new owners / occupiers of your former home know your details is crucial for that reason. 

To help you feel secure that your outdoor cat will return to its new home, you can start small, building up to their usual routine in stages. For example, you can start by letting them out in the garden, going outside with them, before returning to the house together. You can then try letting them outside into the garden by themselves, with the door open (if you don’t have a cat flap, or haven’t yet had installed) so they can come and go as they please.

Consider investing in the best microchip cat flap and installing it as soon as you can – this is especially a good idea if the previous owners also had a cat, as the microchip cat flap will stop any other cats apart your own from coming into the house.

Once you’re ready to let your cat out properly, try letting them out just before their typical feeding time – you should find they come back fairly quickly in search of food, giving you both the confidence that they can find their way back.

Amy Davies

Amy Davies is a writer and photographer with more than ten years’ experience working in the media. She lives with her miniature dachshund, Lola, a rescue dog who is very much the boss.