First and foremost, if you are moving PLEASE TAKE YOUR CAT! We've had many cats surrendered to us by owners who were moving or by neighbors who discovered a cat left behind by families who recently moved. Many people seem to feel that the cat would be more traumatized by the move than by separation from their family, but let us tell you that this is not the case. The cats who have come to our rescue because of moves have all had a hard and long adjustment period. Please when you plan your move, make it possible to bring your cat with you. They will miss you if you don't. That said, we have some tips to help make the move easier for your cat and you!
Before you move:
- Plan WAY ahead to give yourself time to find a pet friendly home and save money for a pet fee if applicable.
- Get your cat used to spending time in a carrier. Just leave the carrier open and put some wet food or tuna in there a few times a day so you cat associates the carrier with positive experiences.
- Talk to your vet about the move and get any records/information you may need, especially if you will be moving far enough that you plan to switch to a new vet.
- Take lots of pictures of your cat! If your cat does manage to escape during the move, having clear and recent photos will be a huge help in locating your pet.
- Have your cat microchipped and get him a collar or harness with identifying information or tags! It's a good idea anyway, and it will make all the difference if you cat manages to escape.
- Having people in and out of the house is a dangerous game when you have a stressed out cat on your hands! Keep your cat in a room that people won't be walking in and out of (and put a sign on the door so it isn't opened by mistake!) or put your cat in a kennel to keep him from escaping. Also, keep in mind that cats have been known to crawl up in disassembled couches and furniture, so keep tabs on your pets during that process!
- The same principle applies at the new house, too! When things are being moved in, make sure you have a designated safe space for kitty. Consider letting your cat spend most of his time in this room for several days to reduce his moving stress. Fill the room with his old scratching post, beds, blankets, and favorite toys so he sees familiar things and smells familiar smells.
- For many reasons, we recommend that all pet cats be kept indoors. Even if your cat has previously been an outside or inside/outside cat, a move is a great opportunity to introduce an indoor only lifestyle. If your cat will still be going outdoors regularly in the new home, make sure that for a couple of weeks after your move, you don't allow your cat outdoors except with you on a leash. It takes time for your cat to learn the area and to realize that the new home is where they live now and where they should stay. Give them time to adjust before allowing them to have adventures.
- Meet your neighbors! When you do, talk to them about your pets. Let them know what they look like and to contact you if they see your pets out and about.
- Check your new home, yard, and neighborhood for hazards. Cat proof what you can and be aware of the hazards around that you can't "cat proof" so you can take measures to avoid them.
- Be a little lazier about the litter box until you are sure your cat is adjusted to the new home and area. One of the most successful methods of getting your cat to find his way home if he escapes is to put his litter box outside so he can smell his way back home. (We aren't suggesting you you let things get out of hand, here. Just maybe keep two litter boxes and only clean out one each day instead of both.)