Can Moving to a New State — and a New Environment — Change Your Cat’s Identity?


When we change our place of residence, we tend to think of ourselves and how the changes affect us — but the changes affect our cats, too. My cats have just made a big move with us, and whether they know it or not, they are changing from Minnesota cats to Vermont cats — a pretty big change from a cold climate to a more temperate one, as well as shifts in terrain and wildlife. Here are some of the differences between the places how they’re affecting my cats:

1. Hills vs. prairie

Vermont is more mountainous than Minnesota, and I’ve been climbing a lot more hills lately — you can’t help but climb hills when they’re all around you. And I bet my legs are getting stronger and more in shape.

My cats are climbing more hills, too, even though they never set a paw outside the house. The Minnesota house was a one-story house; the Vermont place essentially has three floors, and provides lots of great exercise for the cats. They enjoy running up and down the stairs — and I bet their legs are getting stronger, too. Not only do they now get the aerobic exercise of stair climbing, they get to walk the cat balance beam. They’re improving their strength and their balance. Go, cats! Seriously, there is lots of inspiration for getting moving here.

2. Cold weather vs. hot weather

Look out, cats — you’re about to experience a very humid summer (if my husband is to be believed). Now, I have experienced part of a summer in upstate New York, and it was very humid compared to even the most humid Minnesota summer I’d experienced. It seemed that the floors could sweat in such humidity. We’re off to a cool start this spring, but I fully expect that there will be humidity. Along these lines, I’ve prepared for fleas, since they are more of an issue here than they where in Minnesota.

My cats won’t miss the horrible minus-40 temps of northern Minnesota (especially poor Zorro, who was outside when he wasn’t taking shelter in our garage). My cats won’t have to worry about cold temps unless the heat goes out. Locals in Vermont tell me that minus-20 will be experienced where I am now. I hope I don’t grow too soft and start complaining about minus-20 when I’ve experienced worse, but I probably will. That’s human nature! Meanwhile, the cats will be happy as long as they have snuggly blankets and a heat source (or laps). Ahh … winter. My cats are too busy enjoying the spring breeze through the windows to care about winter at this point.

3. Piles of snow vs. piles of snow

Well, this one is the same. A Minnesota cat will look outside the window and see piles of snow. A Vermont cat will look outside the window and see bigger piles of snow. Yes, we’ve moved from a place with snow to a place with more snow. If we become snowbirds, does that mean the cats will become snowcats?

4. Deer vs. moose

Yes, northern Minnesota and northern Vermont have deer and moose. But moose seem to be much more prevalent in Vermont. A Vermont cat in the outdoors is probably more likely to run into a moose than a deer. A careful Vermont cat will avoid going outside to avoid meeting predators like fisher cats, coyotes, and (rumored) mountain lions. These predators were similar in northern Minnesota (wolves, fox and rumored big cats). Big cats (the eastern cougar, to be exact) are called catamounts in Vermont. There’s debate about whether they are extinct or not.

5. Lake fish vs. seafood

A Minnesota cat can have her fill of the famous lake fish of Minnesota’s many lakes. Walleye — yum! Perch, bass, crappie, you name it. What cat doesn’t love fish? And the Vermont cat can lick her lips and feast on lobster (there seems to be a lobster tank in every grocery store and almost every general store in Vermont), scallops (if the cat can get them away from me) and the other seafood that comes from the nearby ocean.

6. Slower time vs. faster time

Time does move faster on the East Coast. Even in rural, achingly beautiful Vermont, I feel a tiny bit of the pulse and the drive of New York City. I think my cats feel it, too. Their paws are moving with a purpose; they’re up and about, moving with the flow, looking for the next opportunity.

Where do you live? How does your cat represent it? Or maybe I should ask, how does where you live represent itself through your cats?

More by Catherine Holm:

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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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