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Moving to a New Place? Don't Forget to Prepare Your Cat

Moving is a stressful time for everybody -- including the cat. Here's how you can smooth your kitty's transition.

 |  Oct 24th 2012  |   0 Contributions


Your career is flourishing, and you’re moving on up. You're relocating to the corporate office in the big city, and you’ve picked the perfect new home in the perfect location. Your new apartment looks out over a beautiful park, some cool shops are nearby, and the subway stop is just a block away. You have visited the apartment many times before moving in. You’ve made sure the carpet and paint are the right colors, the custom window blinds have been installed, and the master closet has room for all your clothes.

But what about your cat? She hasn’t had a look around. She hasn’t even had a chance to pick out her favorite spots. And most of all, where the heck did you put her litter box? Bringing her to your new apartment without prior knowledge or approval could lead to a moving day disaster!

If you don't put your cat's litter box in a convenient spot, she may express her displeasure. Angry cat by Shutterstock

As as an animal communications professional, I have been consulted more times than I can remember about this very scenario. It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and stress of relocating. You’ve involved everyone in the process, but you’ve never considered the impact the move will have on your feline family member. From my experience, if we are excited and stressed, the cat is also excited and stressed. 

This can lead to a not-so-happy first visit to your new home. There are a lot of new smells, new areas to investigate, and new window sills for your cat to get used to. This can be very exciting, but also very stressful. To bring your attention to her stress levels, she may mark her territory by spraying inappropriately. This is especially true if she can detect the scent of cats who lived in the apartment before she did. Or she may start scratching furniture or clawing at the carpet to get your attention.

To avoid or at least minimize the adverse effects of a move, include your cat as early as possible in the process. Here are seven tips to check off:

Help your kitty feel like the queen of the castle. Kitten in dollhouse by Shutterstock.

1. Give your cat a tour

Before moving in, walk with your cat in a pet carrier or on a leash or harness through each room. Spend dedicated time with her to help get her comfortable.

2. Get her comfortable

Put your cat’s favorite blanket or bed in the room where she’ll be sleeping. Ask her to lie in the area and give her a special treat. Select a dedicated area where she’ll receive her meals, and place small bowls of food and water there. Check for any spots that may be safety concerns, such as wall openings near the pipes in the bathroom and kitchen, crawl spaces, and utility rooms. Make sure these areas can be blocked off and secured so your cat can’t gain access without your supervision.

3. Check the floors

If your apartment has wooden or tiled floors and your cat isn’t used to walking on these types of surfaces, they may feel slick under her paws. Make sure your cat knows to take it easy when running or playing on these types of surfaces. 

Cats who are used to carpet may be tentative on shiny wood floors. Orange cat in kitchen by Shutterstock

4. Attend to her needs

Put the litter box in an easily accessible area with all four sides available for her to get in and out of. Show her where her scratching posts and cat tree are located. Secure kitty perches near the windows will let her sunbathe and watch all the activities in the big city.

5. Meet the neighbors

Introduce yourself to your neighbors and inquire as to whether they have cats. Provide a secure introduction between your neighbors and your cat, and ask them about the best local veterinarians and pet stores. See if they’re willing to check in on your cat while you’re at work or away for extended periods. You may even offer to return the favor.

6. Update her info

Make sure your cat’s ID tag and microchip have her new address and contact details. 

7. Alert the community

Lastly, as a precaution, post an “In Case of Emergency” pet decal on the outside facing window or your front door. This will alert rescue workers that you have a cat or cats inside that need to be evacuated should there be a fire or other emergency.

While you settle in, make sure your cat feels at home, too. Woman and cat on couch by Shutterstock

Moving to the perfect apartment in the big city with your cat -- or several cats -- is what you may have dreamed of all of your life. It is an exciting time, as well as a time to make new friends. Your cat will be glad that you are excited and happy. She, too, will feel the same excitement and happiness. Following these suggestions will help guarantee you’re getting started on the right foot … and paw!

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