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How to Acclimate Your Cat to a New Home

Updated on October 11, 2013

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

All four cats love to lay on the starway!
All four cats love to lay on the starway! | Source

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.

The food smells the same!
The food smells the same! | Source

Have you moved with pets before?

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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:

  • Carriers
  • Towels
  • Cat treats/dry food
  • Water
  • Patience!

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.

Finally feeling comfortable enough to check out that familiar chirping outside!
Finally feeling comfortable enough to check out that familiar chirping outside! | Source

"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!


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    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, crazybeanrider!

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 

      5 years ago from Washington MI

      I read your hub, and I am sorry, don't give up on Finn.

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you do much, crazybeanrider! Your comments mean a lot to me! So happy you found your girl! I lost one 2 months ago and we weren't so lucky :(

      I appreciate the tweet and welcome the follow!

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 

      5 years ago from Washington MI

      Excellent ideas. I moved many times long distances with my cats over the years, and find your hub is spot on. Making sure those cages are securely locked is essential. I had one of my cats escape, I only moved a couple streets over. She was gone for three months. She had never been outside. Thankfully with diligence and helpful neighbors I found her. Good advice. Tweeted!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      lol, drbj....I wish I could say that about all of my cats, but I have one......

      Thank you for stopping by! I'm not sure I congratulated you on the hubbie's award! So nice to see our voices heard! You trruly deserved them!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      5 years ago from south Florida

      Very useful suggestions, Randi, for cat owners and their cats. I once moved from a one-story home to a two-story with a toy poodle, and like the cats, she ran into every nook and corner to sniff (only that, thank goodness) before she settled down.

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Aw, Maria, thank you! we only moved about 5 miles, but we didn't think to leave the cats with anyone (4 of them!!!!) We only had one traumitized and I didn't expect it from her but she was our first cat and came right from the shelter to us 5 years ago, so she knew no other home. She is fone now, acting like her sweet, aloof self! My oldest girl (who we have no history on) is also starting to come round. She spent most of this past month in the closet! The two youngest are rambunctious as ever! Thank you so much for your votes, Maria!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      You are such a beautiful woman, Randi. These tips are thorough, practical and loving.

      We were lucky to only move two miles away and have wonderful family watching our critters while we did the physical move. It really can be quite an adjustment period for them.

      Excellent work. Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hey, Joelle, my guys were curious, too! Don't worry about my name. I didn't even notice! Oh my goodness! I missed the whole comment! Do sorry. And what a story you had! Good for you and the cat. That was one tough move across the ocean. So glad I'm done with that kind of move for now....although...!

    • kidscrafts profile image


      5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Hi Randi! Sorry, I misspelled your name earlier!

      When my younger cat came in my studio, I played the video with the sound of the 6 moving cats.... and he was searching around wondering from where those cat's sounds came from..... but he didn't seem worried :-)

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Very true, Sheila! I did write a hub about that, as well and the main theme is very similar. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've only ever moved with one cat and it went well. I didn't really give much thought at the time to the things you mentioned, but I guess I did a fairly good job doing them without realizing it. The cat I adopted a few months ago was already two years old and was given up because his owners couldn't take him when they moved, so you can say he had to move from one house to another with the confusing stop at the shelter on the way. The points you made can also help people in this situation.

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Suzie, thank you so much. I got up yesterday and found the four of them at the window. I realized that it was the first time in a month here that the 4 of them ventured that far! I had already started the hub. How perfect was that? Thank you so much for the votes and share!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Randi,

      What a clever and useful hub! I too have never moved with pets as we did not move much. Enjoyed these tips from one who has been there done that now!

      Up, useful, interesting and shared!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Oh, Faith, how tough it is for them! I didn't go into too much detail, but we had an incredible amount of difficulty with our oldest cat as well. Luckily, she didn't get out of the house but she wouldn't let us catch her. She's the one that scratched us and we, actually had to keave her and come back for her after the others were moved in. It was heartbreaking :( Thank you so much for your comments, votes and shares! Randi

    • kidscrafts profile image


      5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great hub Randy..... and lovely cats :-)

      I think that you are right to not buy them new things when you move because they need some reassurance that they still belong and I am pretty sure they do it through their sense of smell.

      I think moving is hard on us....but we make the decision (usually) so it's not hard to imagine that it's quite an adjustment for them too.

      When we moved from Europe to Canada we moved with our first cat. She was about 1 and half years old. She had to go through several moves because we went from our apartment in Belgium to the one of my mother in law for two weeks. Then we were on a boat for 10 days to cross the ocean. We were in a hotel for another 10 days before finding a place to rent. We stayed 10 months in the house we rented before we moved to a new home for 13 years. That cat moved again to the house we have now. She past away when she was 16 years old. She seemed to adapt quite well to the different moves. The hardest part was the boat; the weather was not so good and I found the place where they kept the animals quite drafty (top deck). We bought a mohair blanket on the boat to create a kind of warm nest for her.... and we sneaked her ones or twice in our cabin :-) She had also a toy cat with her in her little space and when we finally had our rented house, she was moving that cat around like it was her kitten....very cute :-)

      Thanks again for sharing your tips, Randi! I am sure it will help other people who are thinking of moving with animals like cats and dogs!

      Enjoy your weekend!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Frank! Dinner I'd this would probably hello with a dog, too! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Great hub here, as we had a time when we moved trying to get our cat to go with us, for when we started the packing process, she knew something was up. She was an older cat, and I have found out the hard way that older pets do not move so well! Then the day we actually moved, she disappeared in the neighborhood, as she was and indoor/outdoor cat, but it was as if she did not want to go and she did not! Long story short, my daughter, who still lived in the city, has to set a trap to catch our own cat. She went to the side door of our old home, and the was meowing for the new owners to let her in. We almost caught her, but she scratched us all up and she never did that before, so strange.

      Very useful hub here. Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      hey btrbell although im a dog person not too much into cats this was still helpful and useful good share

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Oh, Jackie, I am so sorry about your Lily. My 4 are very lucky because they have eachother and the 4 of us to love. My 2 younger cats (the white ones) are litter mates and the two older ones are sisters of the heart. Sadly the two pairs do not get along :( Thank you so much for stopping by!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, FlourishAnyway! They are almost as sweet as they look! But seriously. I came downstairs this morning and they all went to the window. I ran and got my phone, going no one would leave and I guess those bird sounds were just too enticing!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hwey Bill, I'm guessing Minerva would find her own way! Thank you for always being here, Bill! Your support is always appreciated!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Beautiful cats you have. I just lost my 19 year old Lily a couple months back and I am still so sad. Don't know I could handle four but I think I will get sister cats next time so they always have someone. It really takes a lot to be sole companion to an animal and I think they may like their own kind at least so much. Thanks for sharing, I have moved cats out of state, well my father-in-law and husband did and they got a few battle wounds. lol They did fine once they found their mommy though. Me.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You know, as I was reading this I realized that I have never moved with pets. How weird is that considering how many pets I have had over the years? Well, great information which I'll remember should it ever happen.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Useful ideas and helpful hints. I adore those photos of your kitties checking out their new digs. Aw, how beautiful!


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