Cats don’t like change. They’re also territorial so imagine how they must feel when they suddenly find themselves in a totally unfamiliar location. Heck, moving is stressful for humans so you can certainly understand how unhappy the whole thing makes the family cat.
Even though a certain amount of stress will undoubtedly be involved with a move to a new home, there are things you can do to make the transition a little easier on the cat (and ultimately on you).
Prepare Your Cat in Advance
If your cat doesn’t like being in a carrier, spend time getting him comfortable with the process. Since your move will likely involve either car travel or air travel, your cat will endure much less anxiety if he views the carrier as a safe place. Begin by feeding your cat near the open carrier, and then work your way toward being able to put his meals in the carrier itself. You can also use treats and offer a special treat in front of, next to, on top and then inside the carrier. Clicker training is also very helpful for teaching cats to accept being in a carrier.
Start packing well enough in advance so the moving boxes can be out and about for your cat to investigate. You can actually make the packing process kind of fun if the cat can enjoy playing in empty boxes for a couple of weeks.
If your cat reacts negatively to unfamiliar scents, spray the corners of the moving boxes with a synthetic feline facial pheromone spray. This is a product containing synthetic facial scent chemicals. The facial pheromones are associated with security and comfort for a cat.
If your cat is allowed outdoors, start keeping him indoors at least a week before the move. With all the packing and commotion associated with moving, it’s not unusual for a cat to get nervous and disappear while outside.
Have the cat’s new ID ready well in-advance of the move so you’ll be able to attach it to his collar on moving day (if he wears a collar). For added safety, make sure the cat’s identification contains your cell phone number and not a land-line number.
During the packing stage, make sure your cat’s schedule stays as normal as possible. It will only add to his anxiety if meals are late or he doesn’t receive the usual amount of attention from his family. In fact, incorporate some extra interactive play sessions to help with any increase in anxiety he may be experiencing during the packing stage.
If you’re moving far enough away that you’ll be switching veterinary clinics, get your cat’s records ahead of time to keep with you. When you get to your new location, be sure you know the location of the nearest pet emergency clinic just in case something unexpected happens in the middle of the night during your first few days in the new home.