How to Move House with a Cat – A Guide for Moving With Cats

kitty in a box

Updated: 31.01.2020

For many people, change is something that they eagerly look forward to. But mention that word to any cat in the known universe, and you're likely to get an aggravated hiss in response. Why? Because these animals love the predictability of daily routine to the point where a single missed meal is more than enough to upset them. So how do you move house with a cat?

Imagine, then, how horrifying it must be for your pet to one day witness how a bunch of strangers, with weird squares in their hands, casually change the familiar landscape right before his very eyes! However, there are many ways in which you can make your moving with cats experience much more enjoyable for both you and your pet. Your cat might enjoy the country life vs city life, but nevertheless, the moving process will be equally stressful for both of you. Feel free to check out some of our suggestions for how to move house with a cat.

Prepare for Moving House With a Cat

"How to move house with a cat?" may seem like an intimidating question at first. However, you can easily overcome this hurdle with a little bit of planning. Start by choosing a quiet room (preferably a bathroom or a bedroom) a week before the removal van arrives. Next, turn your chosen location into your cat's paradise by placing his food and water bowls, bed, litter tray, scratching post, and favourite toys inside. Feed your pet at the usual time, but always place the food within the room so that your cat can get used to the change of scenery.

On the evening before your move, feed your pet his favourite meal, then close all windows shut and lock the door. It may seem like a cruel thing to do, but it's the safest way to ensure that your purring friend won't suddenly dash out through your front door while the team handles your packed belongings. If locking your door is not an option, then a simple warning sign should be enough to protect your pet from all the commotion in your hallway. Finally, make sure to gently put your cat inside a reliable carrier before allowing the removal specialists to take a peek inside the room. If you find packing difficult, you can check how to pack for a long-distance moves first.

How to Calm a Cat When Moving

On moving day, you should move your cat's food, water, toys, bed into the bathroom and close the cat there while the movers are doing their job. Having many people, especially strangers, walk in and out of the house, taking out boxes and furniture will stress your pet. Plus, isolating it in the bathroom will prevent it from running away while the doors are wide open.

When you're ready to get into the car and drive off, feed a small amount of food to your cat to prevent it from getting sick on the road. 

When moving with pets, it's crucial to choose an appropriate carrier to ensure a smooth journey. For example, a cardboard cat basket is simply not fit for the job – if your pet is under enormous stress, he can easily tear an impressive hole and escape. The size of your carrier is also important, especially during a long journey when your cat needs access to food, fresh water, and his litter tray.

You should always place the cat basket on your back seat and never inside your car's boot or the removals van – the pitch-black darkness and the lack of human comfort will only frighten and disorient your pet. And if it's absolutely necessary to stop for a break, don't leave your buddy behind, because even the mild spring weather can quickly turn your car into a furnace.

Last, but not least, try to resist the urge to open the carrier and comfort your cat – you'll only end up with a scratched car upholstery, bruised hands, and a very, very distressed pet.

While moving out, you should remain calm from the start of the procedure. To achieve this, make sure you have chosen the best day of the week to move.


How to Introduce Cats to a New Place

Love your furry pet and calm it during this stressful time.
Love your furry pet and calm it during this stressful time.

The first thing you should do with your cat when you move house is to place him in a familiar environment. When unloading your belongings, make sure to start with the furniture that was taken from your pet's improvised bastion. Be careful where you place those – that room will become your cat's home for the next two weeks, allowing him to gradually adapt to his surroundings. To minimise your cat's confusion, arrange his toys, bowls, bed, and litter tray the same way you did at your old house. If there is any old furniture that has been used by another animal, better to remove it from the property. Most of the techniques for moving house with a cat, apply to moving a house with a dog as well.

You can call a furniture collection company such as Strong Move that will load and transport it to a charity, or you can simply sell the old items after removing them.

Visual similarities are not enough to make your pet feel at home. Your cat also needs to smell it. The next time you feel like petting your furball, bring a soft cloth and lightly brush it against his face and neck to collect some of his natural pheromones. Then, spread this aroma throughout your house at cat height. This will allow your pet to think that he's on his own turf. To comfort your cat even further, you can place a worn jumper, sweater, towel, or anything else that carries your scent in his room. You can also buy a special pheromone diffuser, but make sure to discuss that with your vet first.

The last step to regaining your buddy's confidence is to renew the good old routine. Feed your cat with small, but regular meals, served at the usual time. Your frequent appearance will show your pet that there's nothing to be afraid of. Your cat will also become much more relaxed because he will know when to expect his next treat. Once two weeks have passed, let your cat explore one room at a time so that he doesn't get overwhelmed by all the new sights and smells. Maintain a positive and patient attitude and before you know it, your pet will already nap in his new favourite spot.

Read more:

Moving With Your Pet Bird

Moving Abroad with Your Dog

Getting Ready for the Trip Outside

Now that your pet has explored everything that your house has to offer, pay attention to his behaviour. If you notice that your cat is spending more and more time near your front door, then give him the opportunity to discover what's beyond it. Conversely, if your pet is feeling uneasy, it's best to prolong his accommodation period by an extra few weeks.

When your pet is ready to venture into the unknown, he shouldn't do so on his own. Pick a day when you're not particularly busy and closely monitor your cat's progress. When the morning comes, refrain from feeding your cat any treats. Then, open the door, but don't nudge your cat outside – let your pet explore your yard at his own pace and don't worry about him wandering too far. After all, it won't be too long before your cat's empty tummy reminds him that he should go back inside for a tasty snack.

As your beloved furball traverses your neighbourhood's streets and alleys, he may end up getting lost. That is why your pet should always wear an identification collar with your name, contact number, and new address on it. As an extra precaution, you can also get your cat microchipped. If your pet has been already microchipped, you'll need to inform your microchip registration company about the house move so that they could update your address accordingly.

As you can see, the question "How to move home with a cat?" is not as scary as you might think. All it takes for your adorable companion to feel at home is a little bit of patience, lots of understanding, and the help of a reliable domestic removals service.

Words of Caution When Moving With a Cat

  • If your cat has a microchip or а tag, make sure your phone number and/or address are up to date. Just in case your cat manages to run away when you've moved to the new place.
  • Introduce your cat one room at a time in the new house so it doesn't get stressed by the many new things in its life. Be careful about leaving your cat unsupervised in the kitchen or in utility rooms. If it gets scared or stressed it might seek refuge in narrow gaps behind appliances or other narrow areas.
  • Ensure that all the windows at your new home have secure screens or are closed before letting your cat roam the entire house by itself.

Long story short:

  1. Prepare for moving house with a cat. It’s best if a couple of days before the relocation, you place it’s favourite items in a quiet room that won’t be opened during the moving day.
  2. Ensure that the cat doesn’t interfere with the movers.
  3. Calm the cat during the move. Place it in a secure basket during the move. Preferably on your back seat. For long-distance or international removals you should buy a cat carrier and plan careful how you’re going to feed your cat and how to take bathroom breaks.
  4. Introduce the cat to the new place. Let it explore one room at a time.
  5. Get the cat ready for a trip outside. Make sure it’s microchipped and that it doesn’t wander too far. Observe the cat while it’s outside.

Need help with your relocation?

Check out our man and van removals service and see how we can help you.

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