Helping your cat move home

Cats are sensitive, intelligent and very territorial. So, imagine how they feel when the environment they are familiar with changes overnight! Understanding your cat’s behaviour can help you make their move less stressful.

Helping Your Cat Move Home

Before you sign any lease on a rental property, be sure the new residence allows cats and ask if any conditions relating to keeping pets. Make sure that there are no restrictions demanding that your cat is declawed or kept indoors.

Mountgrange Heritage’s pet-friendly lettings scheme highlights London properties where landlord’s welcome pets. In collaboration with the Blue Cross these tips will help to minimise the stress of moving:

Moving day and settling in

  • On the day of the move ensure your cat is safe and you know where it is. It’s best to put the cat into a quiet room with the doors and windows closed while the packing takes place
  • If your cat is a particularly nervous animal, it could be helpful to put them in a friendly cattery before the move and keep them away from the new house until everything is unpacked and settled
  • On arrival in the new property, keep your cat in a basket in a quiet room such as the bathroom with its familiar belongings such as bed and toys. You can provide some food, water and a blanket, towel or jumper which smells of you or your old house to make your cat feel secure
  • Make your cat feel at home by helping them to furnish the new house with their scent. Take a soft cotton cloth and rub it gently around your cat’s face to pick up their scent. Dab this around at cat height in the rooms where the cat will initially be kept so that the cat begins to feel at home and bond with the territory. You can repeat this daily
  • Use food and a regular routine to help your cat settle in. Small frequent meals will give you more contact initially and help to reassure your cat that all is well. By knowing when and where feeding will take place, the cat can anticipate the meal rather than worry about it
  • Ensure your cat has some form of identification with name, address and contact phone number. It is a good idea to have the cat microchipped. If already “chipped”, remember to inform the company that holds your cat’s data of any changes of address and/or phone number

Letting your cat explore their new home

  • At the end of the day, let the cat out to explore the house a little. It is usually best to confine the exploration to one or two rooms initially so that your cat is not overwhelmed
  • It is important that the cat stays confined to the house for at least two weeks. This lets your cat bond with the new home and learn new geography and smells
  • When it is time to let your cat go outside, withhold food for around 12 hours so that the cat is hungry and watching you for signs of feeding. It is useful to have taught your cat in advance that a signal – such as tapping the food bowl or rattling the food bag – means feeding time
  • Go outside for a short period with the cat when it is quiet and let your cat explore a little. Then call the animal indoors for some food. Repeat this exercise several times, letting the cat go a little further and stay out a little longer each time
  • If you’re not moving too far from your old home, it’s wise to warn the new residents that your cat may appear. Ensure that they do not encourage your cat to stay. Ask them to chase the cat away or to call you so you can go and collect the cat.
  • If your cat does stray, try to keep your cat indoors for a few more weeks to build up the bond to its new home. Then start the process again of gently letting it outside. Keep your cat indoors at the new house for about a month

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