How to Acclimate Your Cat to a New Home
Lessons learned from Experience
Last month, we moved to a new place. In addition to getting ourselves packed and parceled, I had four cats who needed to have their things transported, as well as them. This was my first move with them and it would be an understatement to say that I knew what I was doing. Let this be my lessons learned review!
"I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul."~Jean Cocteau
Everything is New
A new place can have many new things for your cats to experience. New smells, new sounds and new sights are a given. In our case we went from a one-story home to a two-story home. Stairs were the newest commodity! Because our cats are cherished, I put together these helpful hints to help your cats get acclimated.
Have you moved with pets before?
Letting Your Cats Explore
We let everyone come out at their own pace. In our home, it was immediate. Once out, they all went to their food bowls and litter boxes. After that, they began to slowly skulk around the house and sniff around. We sat on the couches and each one visited us from time to time for a reassuring pat. One thing that I have noticed is that, while they are acclimating to the new home and furniture, they have been less interested in the outdoors. It has been only been recently, that they they have sat in the windows or the sliding door and I have had only one near escape!
"Time spent with cats is never wasted."~Sigmund Freud
Cats can be Stubborn!
Whether cats are happy, sad or indifferent, they are notorious for doing what they want, however they want to! Getting cats into carriers and cages isn't always easy and when they are already confused and frightened, it can be downright difficult. Expect lack of cooperation! Things you should have at the ready:
- Cat treats/dry food
It took three of us to get four cats packed up, with only two scratches! Here are some tips:
- Expect the unexpected. (Even the best pet may act out when it feels threatened.)
- Snuggling them in towels can comfort them and make it easier to get them in the carrier.
- Keep them in a contained area. They will look for a place to hide!
- Speak calmly and quietly. They are frightened.
Make sure you have a Safe Place for your Cats During a Move
Because we were moving nearby, we made the decision to leave our cats in the old place. My biggest concern was that they might run out during all the chaotic confusion of the move. Here are some suggestions to make that work:
- Clear out an enclosed area that you do not have to go into.
- Set up a litter box, food bowls, blankets and towels in there.
- Bring your cats in there and leave them there for the duration of the move.
- If possible,set up their remaining litter boxes, food, climbing posts and toys before bringing the cats.
- (If you are only making one trip. try to procure a cage for them to stay in while you get set up.)
- Pick up the cats from the old home. Be prepared for some "pushback."
- Once at the new place, leave their carriers near their things and let them come out at their own pace.
Planning ahead when moving with Pets
A Few months before
A week before
The day of the move
If you are moving out of state, you may need to arrange transport
start cleaning and packing up the gear that they won't be needing right away.
If they are at home, settle them in a room where they won't be in the way.
Pick up vetenarian's records.
Make sure you have enough carriers
Set up their things up in the new home.
Arrange for any boarding if necessary
Purchase more food and litter for the new home.
Bring them to the new place and let them explore.
New Sights and New Sounds.
Whenever I move into a new place, I feel a heightened awareness of everything around me. The colors are brighter, sounds are clearer and scents are more distinctive. For me, this adds to the excitement of a new place. For our pets, this can increase their anxiety. Cats, if they come out at all, may skulk around the perimeter and it can take several days before they truly explore.
"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."~Albert Schweitzer
Tips on Acclimating your Cats
While the inclination may be to buy them all new things, I don't recommend this. One of the ways they acclimate easier is to have their familiar things around them. Curb the urge for new and fres and moved with their familiar things! Put particular things in areas Ithat you feel certain they would be comfortable in.
For example: If you have a cat that hides in the closet when she feels threatened, put a bed or favorite blanket there for her!
Try to anticipate as much as you can ahead of time but you can certainly move things around as you observe their behavior.
If you have cats that don't get along, don't put their bowls side-by-side.
Try to imitate the placement of things that they had before. Familiarity is good for them.
The cats will probably check out every nook and cranny. Make sure they are cat proofed!
Be aware that this can take some time. Don't expect them to acclimate overnight. My "closet Kitty" is just barely joining the rest of us and only when I am home!
If you do want to replace some of their things, introduce them slowly.
Thank you to BrainyQuotes for providing me with my favorite quotes about cats!
Alternative Ideas for Moving Cats
This article is intended for people who are simply moving to a new home in the same vicinity. If you are moving to another state or country, you will need to make other arrangements for your cats. There are several viable solutions. Here is a pretty comprehensive article for that kind of move.
If you are moving in the area and don't have a safe place to keep the cat(s) during your move, you can:
- Ask a friend or family member to keep your cat for you.
- Board your pet or check out a pet daycare.
Whatever you choose to do, make it a safe and comfortable move for everyone!