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Moving Your Cats to a New Home

Updated on October 12, 2012

Cats and Change

Changing anything in your cat’s life can be a very tough thing for even the hardiest of cats. Since cats are creatures of habits any small change can be turmoil for you and them. If you have a cat of your own you know that any little change can set off a string of bad behaviors. When a cat is stressed it can show signs in many different ways. It may cry more than normal, be more aggressive up to and including defecating outside of its litter box. So when my husband and I decided to move to our lake home we really needed to consider what the best way was to move them. Fortunately for us we are keeping our other home for the time being. (At least until the real estate market comes up some) So while we moved our necessary belongings our kitties could just stay put until we were settled and then we would move them.

Meet the Cat Part of our Family

One of the hardest things besides moving our cats is that they have three different personalities. Sam is our oldest at 11. He is the son of a stray cat who had him on our front porch and died giving birth. Sam was the only little guy that survived. When I brought him in he still had his umbilical cord attached. I hand raised him so as you can imagine he is my guy. Spoiled as ever. He truly doesn’t think he is a cat. His first 5 years of his life his best bud was our yellow lab mix, Alexandria. Alex taught Sam the basics of life. They played together and slept together when Sam got old enough. So I have no worries moving Sam.

Sam
Sam | Source

Who is our second oldest at 9. We acquired her in 2003 when we came home from a trip to see my sister. It was pouring rain out and after unloading our luggage I went to the back door to let Alex out and there under our Alberta spruce was two sets of little eyes. All’s it took was a “here kitty, kitty, kitty” And they both ran for the door never to go outside again. (Except for one slip up, explained below) I named them Boo and Who because it was almost October that year. Boo was a tortoise cat and Who is pumpkin in color. Sadly we lost Boo 2 years ago

Who
Who | Source

Our third cat is Ike. We acquired him and his brother Mike because when Boo and Who were about 9 months old my brother in law came to visit and he let Boo out. First, I don’t let my cats out and secondly we didn’t realize that either was in heat. Boo was out two nights and we could not catch her. Apparently she was having way too much fun to be bothered in coming inside. Mike was 5 when we lost him to complications from something lung related. Ike was the shy one of the two. Even as a kitten he stayed in the back ground. He loves to be cuddled but he will not initiate it.

Ike
Ike | Source

So now you have met our three cats. They have all been through one move so this wasn’t something new for them. But as you see they all have different personalities. They all react differently to change. The last move for Ike was when he was just a little guy, just months old. And with his shy temperament I knew going in he would have the hardest time with the move. So now I needed to figure out how to make the move as easy on him as I could.

Preparing to Move your Cat

One of the first things that we did is we placed our cat carriers in the room that our cats spend most of their time. Typically this would be where you feed them or where their litter box is. We left the carrier sitting out with the door open and a comfy bed inside. Occasionally we put a couple of cat treats in it so the cats could find them on their own. The next thing we did was we started feeding our cat’s in the carrier. If your cat is reluctant to enter the carrier to eat, start by just placing his dish next to it. After a few days, put the dish just inside the carrier, right near the opening. Then, over a week or two, gradually move the dish toward the back of the carrier so your cat has to step a little further inside each day. Eventually, you will be able to place the dish at the very back of the carrier to your cat must go all the way into it to eat.

Another tip we found is to try to keep your cat’s daily routine as close to normal as possible. Stick closely to your cats schedule for feeding, play and attention. If you have a hard time keeping a normal feed schedule a feeder with a timer can be helpful to make sure your cat eats at the same time each day. If you cat is like my cat Ike and is skittish you may want to talk to your vet prior to moving day. An anti-anxiety medication may be something to consider to make the move easier for him.

The Day of the Move

We have always deemed one room in our house as our cat's. I would suggest this at least for the first couple of weeks after you move. We always have done this because we also have dogs. This way our cats have someplace to sneak off to if they don’t want to be pestered. Also, it helps keep our dogs from getting into the litter box. In the new house we are using the laundry room as our cat’s room. After we moved them we put them in the room with their food, water, litter box, toys, scratching post and comfortable belongings. We also put something with our scent such as a worn t-shirt in the room. Like I said the room will become your cat's safe zone if and when your cat needs to get away. After you move be sure to set aside time to spend time with your cat in his room. Because we already had moved we didn’t have all of the unpacking and suck to do. So this was probably easier for us then if we were unpacking too. My suggestion is to set aside two ten to fifteen minute play sessions each day. For the next two to three weeks after we moved, we spent time separately with each cat where we let each one to come out of the room to explore the rest of the house. This was more challenging for Ike. With Sam, as I expected he was fine right away. Who was pretty flighty. So I had to tailor this to each cat’s personality. With Ike I haven’t let him have the run of the house because he really isn’t comfortable. One of our other challenges is our dogs. They can’t understand why the cats aren’t as much fun as they were in the other house. So we have kept them separated too. Once everything gets settled we can go back to things as normal but for the time being our cats don’t need the added stress of the dogs chasing them.

My husband even went as far as going to our Habitat for Humanity and purchased an interior door. He took it and cut it in half just above the handle. He then installed it on the same frame as our laundry room door. This way we can leave the half door open when it seems that the cat’s are comfortable to have free run of the house and can still get into their room but the dog’s can’t get in there.

So for us, and our cat’s I can say our move was not as stressful as our last. It still wasn’t stress free. But I am already seeing changes in each cat and their comfort level. Sam is out pretty much all of the time now. Who only comes out when the dogs are outside or sleeping but she is getting braver. Ike hasn’t ventured out but he at least is now sitting on the window sill watching the birds. I think it will take him awhile yet.

I hope that some of these tips make your next move easier for you and especially for you kitty friends.

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    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

      This is a great hub to help all hubbers who have a kitty to move.

      Voted up useful and interesting, Joyce.

    • Marie Alana profile image

      Marie 4 years ago from Caernarfon, Gwynedd, UK

      Good hub. My cat went missing a week after I moved, haven't seen him since. He hasn't returned to the old house either. That was five months ago. Glad your cats are happy in their new home. People forget about the stress it causes on their pets sometimes.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      I'm so sorry to hear that Maria. Have you checked the local shelters? Moving is so tough on a cat. They are not adaptable like a dog is. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      Joyce,thank you so much for your comments and votes. Moving is never easy and especially with a cat or in my case cats.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I just love Sam because he reminds me of my old cat who passed away a couple of years ago. Our last move was one that I won't repeat for my cat. I had to give him a sedative to travel on the plane. I felt so sorry for him. He did recover after a couple of days from the shock of moving. Enjoyed your story.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you teaches12345. Sam is a funny boy. I could write a story just on him. He has so many funny characteristics. Luckily I have never had to fly with my cat. Thank you again for stopping by and your comments.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      we have moved our cats many times..However, there have been a few deletions and additions due to natural passing. I think they became used to it. At one time we had a house in two places and they seemed to travel well and adjust to hotel rooms and the new house. Lots of sniffing but as long as we were there all was well. Great and interesting hub...for cat people.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you very much carol7777. Maybe the key is to travel with my cats more often. lol I think Sam would be fine with that. I'm not certain Who and Ike would feel the same. :)

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 4 years ago from usa

      You are a very thoughtful person to think so highly of your cat's comfort.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you so much flashmarket. I do think a lot about all of my animals comfort. That's my job. :) thank you for stopping by and for your comment.

    • annstaub profile image

      Ann 4 years ago from Round Rock, TX

      Great article. All of your kitties are very cute, but I particularly like Sam =)

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      lol..well thank you annstayb. Sam is a different personality all together. And as you can see by his picture he is very spoiled.

    • Kamalesh050 profile image

      Kamalesh050 4 years ago from Sahaganj, Dist. Hooghly, West Bengal, India

      Excellent article with very useful and interesting tips.

      Voted Up & Awesome. Best Wishes, Kamalesh

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      thank you so much Kamalesh. I'm glad you found it useful. thank you for the comment and also the votes

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 4 years ago

      Hi Rhonda,

      What a Delightful as well as Educational read. Even though I no longer have pets...Long Story, but you Never know...Lots of Good, Loving, Practical advice.

      My sister was given a kitten, it was maybe 1 1/2 wks. old by her Granddaughter who found it abandoned out doors. She too had to bottle fed, and do EVERYTHING, and now her Kitten is Adorable.

      I now look forward to Following your Hubs.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      Hi b. Malin,Thank you so much for you comments. Your sister will find that she will have a bond with her kitten unlike any other. My guy didn't learn how to meow for a really long time. Imagine my sisters surprise when Sam was standing by the door and hissed at her. lol She came to me telling me how my cat hissed at her. I had to explain that he was just asking to go out. He is a special boy!!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Rhonda, absolutely much needed advice, especially for me right now. Suddenly I have three cats where where we have had none before; these are neighborhood strays. I'll be reading more to find out how to get my dogs used to them. Your instructions on how to lure them into the cat carrier are great and I'll be giving that a try as I round these guys up to get shots and vet exams. Thanks so much.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      Peg, are they ferrel cats?? Because that is a whole other ball game. lol As far as introducing them to you dogs I would suggest having your dogs on a leash. You want to avoid it turning into a dog chase cat situation. I introduced my new dog with my cats by letting them sniff each other through a cracked door. I slowly,as I felt more comfortable opened the door a little more. Once you finally feel comfortable enough I would contain one dog, one cat and yourself and maybe another in a closed room. I would start this for short periods of time first and then work up to longer time. Eventually I would then introduce another cat with the two. Soon you will be able to have them all together.

    • kathleenkat profile image

      kathleenkat 4 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      My mom has always said to "walk them around in circles around a table leg 3 times" and I'm not sure if that's why my cats have moved with such ease, or its a coincedence. I also try to put them in their own room to begin with :). And move them first, so they don't get "misplaced" haha.

      Voted up!

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      Hi Kathleen, I have never heard of walking your cat around a table leg before. I don't think I'd fit under the table to be able to walk them.(haha) Thank you so much for you comment and for the votes.

    • kathleenkat profile image

      kathleenkat 4 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      Yeah, I think the idea is that it's nearly impossible to do (hah).

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image
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      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      lol...well unless your as short as your cat. hehe.

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