Moving to a new home, especially a new city or state, can be a demanding experience for both you and your pets. It’s important to anticipate that your cat will be stressed during the process and it will take some time for them to adjust to unfamiliar sights, smells, and sounds in their new environment. Extra care and attention to their needs are crucial. Whether you’re opting for a DIY move or you’re hiring professionals, consider moving your cat at a later date, ideally after unpacking most, if not all, of your belongings.
Questions to address before moving your cats include:
Is your cat more attached to you than other cats in the neighbourhood?
Moving feral cats away from their colony may affect your cat negatively, as their territorial instincts may lead them to return and potentially get lost. Entrusting them to a neighbour willing to care for them is a preferable option.
Are there predators in the new area?
Ensure the safety of outdoor cats by checking for potential predators in the vicinity. Understanding the local threats is essential to safeguard your outdoor cats during the transition. If you’re opting for a DIY Move (read more here) and you haven’t had the chance to check the property, consider moving your cat at a later date until you have verified that it will be a safe environment for them.
Is the property located near a busy street?
For outdoor cats, proximity to a busy street can pose risks. If possible, choose a property with a spacious yard, minimising the chances of accidents if your cat enjoys wandering or playing outside.
Common mistakes to avoid when moving to a new home with your cat
Assuming an Instant Outdoor Explorer
Even the boldest outdoor cat needs time to adjust to a new territory. Forgoing the crucial indoor confinement period (at least 2 weeks) leads to a high risk of them bolting back to familiar ground. Keep them safe and let their confidence build before unleashing their inner wanderer.
Neglecting the Familiar Haven
Don’t underestimate the power of familiar scents and routines. Pack their bed, toys, and litter box in a separate bag and set up a “cat room” immediately upon arrival. This cosy haven provides a stress-free anchor in the midst of moving chaos.
Underestimating Carrier Acclimation
The carrier shouldn’t just be a moving day surprise. Leave it open with treats and toys well before the move, making it a positive space they voluntarily explore. This reduces travel anxiety and makes the actual journey less terrifying.
Ignoring Vet Prep and Microchip Magic
Moving is the perfect time to ensure your cat’s vaccinations are up-to-date and parasites are under control. Don’t forget the power of the microchip – update it with your new address for peace of mind in case of escape.
Forgetting Environmental Enrichment
Indoor life shouldn’t be boring! Provide climbing structures, scratching posts, interactive toys, and window perches to satisfy their natural curiosity and hunting instincts. A bored cat is a potentially destructive cat, so keep their minds and claws busy.
Things to do When Moving an Outdoor Cat
Before the move:
Tag and microchip your cat
Ensure your cat is microchipped and update your details in the database to facilitate locating them if they venture too far from your new home.
Acclimate them to the carrier
Familiarise your cat with the carrier by using treats or their favourite blanket. This reduces discomfort during the move, making it easier for them to stay inside.
Keep the cat indoors
Introduce your cat to indoor spaces before the move, allowing them to acclimate to a closed environment similar to what they’ll experience in the new home.
Finish tasks before pet arrival
Complete tasks before bringing your pets into the new residence. If possible, transport them after unpacking to dedicate more attention to their adjustment.
Designate a room for the cat
Allocate a room for your cat’s carrier for a few days to minimise stress and information overload in their new environment.
Ensure you have sufficient food, water, and cat litter in advance, considering the busy schedule associated with unpacking and settling in.
Keep your cat indoors for at least two weeks, even if they try to go outside. Doing this will give them time to adjust to the new home’s sounds, smells, and routines, reducing the risk of them bolting back to the old territory.
Establish a routine
After a few days in the carrier, allow the cat into the designated room. Create a feeding and playing routine to help them associate positive experiences with the new home, aiding in a smoother transition.
Once your cat seems comfortable indoors, start supervised outdoor excursions in a secure enclosure like a catio or leash training. Gradually increase the duration and scope of these outings as your cat gains confidence in their new surroundings.
Introduce your cat to friendly neighbours, especially those with pets, to encourage socialisation and prevent territorial anxiety. Keeping treats handy can help break the ice!
Prepare different kinds of indoor activities to keep your cat stimulated and engaged. Consider Investing in climbing structures, interactive toys, scratching posts, and window perches to satisfy their natural curiosity and hunting instincts.
Patience and Love
Keep in mind that adjusting to a new environment takes time. You have to be patient with your cat, offer lots of love and positive reinforcement, and create a safe, enriching space for them to thrive in their new home.
Look into other options
There are potential dangers to moving your cats, especially to a new city that is completely different from your old neighbourhood. Whether you’re opting for a DIY move or you’re looking to hire professionals to move your household items, consider other options for relocating your cat.
Finding them a new home
Cats belonging to a colony might not adapt well when taken away from their original territory. In this case, finding a new home for your outdoor cat or leaving them in the care of family or friends in your old neighbourhood may be a better option. This will help avoid unfortunate events where the cat ends up lost or hurt whilst trying to find their way back.
If you’re moving to another state or you’re doing a long-distance move, consider hiring professionals to relocate your cats to your new home. Working with someone who specialises in safely transporting pets can be very helpful if you’re moving with two or more cats as professionals have the experience and the right equipment to safely transport your cats to your new home. Hiring professionals also help ensure that your cats will be comfortable during the transition, especially as they are transported from one location to another.
Bonus Tip: Consider gradually transitioning your cat from outdoor to indoor living. Whilst outdoor access can be enriching, it also comes with risks like car accidents, predator encounters, and exposure to diseases. Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives, and providing a stimulating indoor environment can be just as fulfilling.
Moving with an outdoor cat, often a specialised service on its own, requires additional planning and patience, but following these tips and giving them a big dose of love, you can ensure a smooth transition and create a happy new home for your feline friend. Remember, even the most adventurous explorer deserves a safe and loving haven to call their own.