Sometimes we have to move.
For pet owners, this can be a difficult task: pack things up and tend to a pet while carrying boxes, renting a car, moving furniture and reparking vehicles….
But it can be done.
If you’re in a rush, you can still apply these basic instructions to make your cat’s transition into a new home far easier and gentler.
1. Get a Cat Carrier
You will need to keep your cat out of “your hair” while you move.
To do this, you’ll need to pack them into a comfortable carrier while you unpack some basics. Don’t leave your cat in there too long once you’re in your new home.
“We moved yesterday and not only would they not come out and explore the house, but these 2 hopped into a carrier TOGETHER for moral support!” – Robin
2. Bring the Carrier into a Small Room, Close the Door and Open the Carrier
It’s time to let your cat explore the first room.
This gentle transition works for new cats as well. Don’t expect a cat to love the new home like you do. They need to get used to the new smells, sights and shapes of the rooms.
Give them time to walk around in a bathroom(if its small and can be closed while you unpack). Or use a small bedroom as their first exploring ground.
Close the door and let them come out on their own, while you take care of unpacking in other rooms.
- Make sure the windows are slightly open for fresh air; you’re introducing your cat to the new neighborhood, too!
- Don’t leave a cat with a fully open window as they may fall out. This is particularly important on upper floors and even more important because your cat may get lost altogether if they decide to run off in a new neighborhood.
- DO leave a familiar item in the room: a blanket, a favorite dish, a pillow, a toy, anything that they like and frequently played with or comforted themselves with at your old home.
- Your presence in the room with them may be helpful, it depends on your cat’s need.
3. Open the Door to The Rest of the House.
This is the critical step.
If your cat is ready to come out to see the whole house they may mew at the door, scratch at it or mew at you expectantly. Perhaps they will be asking you about the new place, wondering why you moved and where their old bed is, etc.
BUT, if your cat is still afraid in a corner or closet someplace, let them stay there for a while. It can take days for certain cats to become comfortable.
How do you know if they’re ready to have the door open to the rest of the house? They’ll let you know.
Perhaps your cat has already made themselves a home on the window sill, a dresser, a mattress, a laptop, etc. If they are out and about in the one room, they may be ready to see the rest of their cat mansion!
– It is easier to move in several cats than one cat into a new home from our experiences. They seem to acclimate quicker.
– A scared cat is best left alone in a place they’ve begun to make a new “safe zone”
– It’s OK for cats to have “safe zones” for when strangers arrive at your home
How Long Does it Take a Cat to Adjust to a New Home?
For a cat to acclimate to a new home it may take a maximum of a few weeks, but in most cases it could only take a few days.
It depends on the cat and circumstance.
IF you have properly introduced your cat to the new home by following the above instructions (by introducing one room at a time, gradually opening the whole house to them), it can happen even faster.
But if you have simply put them into a new space and expect the transition to be quick, don’t be surprised if your cat is more shy and tends to hide in the new place.
There are lots of new scents, colors and it can be sensory overload.
Your Cat Doesn’t Like Your New Place ….What Can You Do?
Your cat may hate the new place, so you may have to accept that also.
When humans move to a new home they usually get the consent of most of the household (or at least the mom and dad consent), but cats don’t get a say in a move decision. They may feel betrayed, confused.
Show them love and pet them and play with them.
Gradually help them explore one room that they are hiding in, using familiar toys and treats to attract them into new spaces. Back off after you have achieved big progress and let them reach out to you first. Then repeat the training by treating them and attracting them bit by bit into a larger and more open space.
- Certain cat personalities are the same in any home. They like to stay hidden or safe, cupboards and sockdrawers. That’s OK.
- Some cats aren’t affected at all by a new move, once they are used to moving every couple of years.
Be Patient and Introduce Items That are Familiar to your Cat
A familiar scratching post, a familiar toy, a favorite food dish. These things will help your cat feel more at home again, in a new place. Allow them to have their space. It’s possible they may have lost a friend in the old neighborhood. Cats that are re-adopted have feelings for their past owners, just as you and I have feelings for our friends that we lose. Homes can be similar to cats.
- Older cats that have frequently moved may be more used to it and won’t be as traumatized (comment below if you had a different experience!)
- Younger cats and kittens may be more traumatized to a move, having never experienced such a big change
- Get kittens excited about playing in the new home and you may be able to get them acclimated much quicker
- Comfort your younger cat by petting them when they want your attention and comforting.
If you act like you did in your last home, calm and patient and loving – your cat should pick up on it and get in the vibe of the new place more easily. Don’t make a big fuss over your cat being hidden on your first week in the new place. Let your cat relax, hide in a cupboard or wherever.
When they get hungry, they may pop out for a tour.
Hopefully by step three you are unpacked and the cat can find things as they will be for the next few weeks. Be sure no boxes are stacked too high — cats like to climb and they can get hurt when all those boxes topple!
Let us know if you followed this simple guide to get your cat acquainted with a new home, by gradually introducing them to a room and then the whole house. We would like to hear your experiences and advice in the comments !