How Can I Help My Cat Adjust To A New Home?
Moving house with cats is simple when you know how! As all cat owners know, cats can get stressed out in new environments. Add to that the need to put them into a cat box and take them on long car journeys and the prospect of moving home might seem like a daunting one. But never fear! In this article, we provide you with some easy and practical solutions and tips for moving house with cats. Your kitty will be purring happily on the couch of your new home in no time!
Managing the journey
Before settling your cat into your new home, you will need to get them there! If getting to your new home involves a long car journey, the best thing that you can do is to get your kitty accustomed to traveling in the car. Take them on some short car journeys and get them used to sitting calmly in their cat box, by giving them one of their favorite toys and a couple of treats to entertain them on the way.
Give them a comfortable blanket and/ or cushion to snuggle up on. And, very importantly, make sure to keep them hydrated. Cats can get very hot in the car so it is a good idea to make a couple of stops to offer them some fresh water to drink as you travel to your new home.
In your new home: it’s all about space
In many ways, moving house with a cat involves many of the same strategies as welcoming a new cat to your home in the first place. A great piece of advice for introducing a cat to a new house or apartment is to keep them confined to a single room for anything from a couple of days to a week – whatever helps them to feel comfortable.
Let that room be ‘their’ room: equip it with their familiar toys and some cat treats, and let them get comfortable moving around in it and hanging out there before you open the door and let them explore the rest of your new place. Top tip: bringing your cat’s favorite toys with you to your new house is highly recommended: that way, they will have something comforting and familiar with them from the start.
Do not be surprised if your kitty instantly runs for the nearest cat sized nook or cranny and curls up in their to hide at first! Cats will often seek this kind of containment in small spaces to reassure themselves and to help themselves feel safe in unfamiliar environments. Coax them out with a little petting and a few treats, and perhaps some catnip toys.
Once your cat is comfortable running round the whole of your new house or apartment, make sure to establish a routine with them. Feed them at the same hours of the day, and give them plenty of love and reassurance. Soon, they will start treating the new place as home.
Buttering cats’ paws?
Perhaps you have heard the age old advice to ‘butter a cat’s paws’ when bringing them to a new home? Perhaps you may be curious as to why this is? Well, the most likely explanation is that if you smear a little delicious butter on your cat’s front paws they will instantly start licking it off. Grooming themselves in this way has an emotional effect on your cat, leaving it feeling comfortable and relaxed. It may even start purring.
So, it is likely that this old, traditional way of helping cats get settled was not some kind of magic trick – it was designed to start off grooming behavior in them, encouraging them to feel happy and relaxed enough to engage in a little self-pampering in their new pad.
Even if your cat is typically an outdoor cat, or a mixed outdoor and indoor cat, do not let them go outdoors for a couple of weeks. If you let your cat outdoors before they have accepted your new place as their home, chances are as soon as you let them out they will run away immediately, trying to get back to your old house (which they still regard as their real home). So, only let them out once they have truly settled in.
The next thing to consider is the timing. If you let your kitty out just before dinner time, they will be more likely to want to hang around and return to you at top speed when they hear the fork being tapped lightly on their food dish.
If your new place has a garden, you can always take your cat out on a leash – you can use any leash (a classic dog leash will do) though specialized leashes and harnesses for cats do exist. That way, they can explore the yard to their heart’s content and you do not need to worry about them running off and getting lost.
If you do not have a back yard but you live in a safe neighborhood away from from busy roads, you could always take them out a little on the leash as you get them accustomed to their new neighborhood. Just be prepared to experience a few raised eyebrows from your new neighbors…At least it’s a good way to start a conversation with them!
Growing catnip in a tub beside your door or in some part of your garden is another way to ensure that your cats do not stray too far from home. Cats absolutely adore the smell of this happiness inducing herb! Just be aware that doing so may attract other people’s cats as well!
Make sure to reward your feline friend with plenty of cuddles and maybe a cat treat or two when they return home after a trip out doors. That way, they know that they have a loving home (and some delicious foods) to return to.
Of course, if your cat is solely an indoor cat, you can skip this step.
That’s it. With some preparation, and the willingness to take the time to get your cat accustomed to its new living space, moving house with a cat will be a breeze. We wish you well in your new place!
If you have had to manage a move with a cat we would love to hear your experiences in the comments!