I recently made a huge cross-country move, through which my cats fared amazingly well (except when they didn’t). This was a huge change for all of us, as even a crosstown move can be a big deal for cats. In order to make your move as smooth as possible and minimize the chances of an escape, here are some things you should do before and during the move.
1. When looking for a place, check it out from a feline point of view
Are you next door to a fire station? Does your neighbor have a constantly barking dog? Do you smell cat urine in the yard or hallway? These things could stress your cats and lead to behavior problems. Do the windows have screens so your cats can’t escape or fall out?
2. Be honest about your cats
If you try to sneak your cats into a no-pets-allowed apartment, you run the risk of being busted and either having to give up your cats or give up your home. Don’t chance it. If your landlord is doubtful about allowing your cats, sell yourself as a responsible cat caretaker. Provide veterinary references and ask your previous landlords to speak about your well-behaved kitties.
3. Update your cats’ tags and microchip information
If your cats escape, make sure anyone who finds them will be able to get in touch with you. If your cats are microchipped, update your address and phone number with the chip registry. If they wear collars with tags, put your new phone number on their tags, too.
4. Pack your cats’ stuff last
Packing is just as stressful for your cats as it is for you. The longer your cats can have their familiar toys, beds and furniture, the less anxious they’ll be.
5. On moving day, put your cats in a safe room
You don’t want your cats to escape as you’re moving out of your home, so put them and their carriers in an empty room or in the bathroom. Be sure they have their beds, a litter box and some water. Once everything is moved out, close the outside door before opening the door to their safe room and putting them in their carriers.
6. In your new home, reverse the process
Before you start moving stuff in, put your cats in a room with a door that closes firmly. Once you’ve got everything inside and the furniture mostly set up, let them out to roam the house. Plug in a couple of pheromone diffusers to take the edge off their stress.
7. Provide familiar smells
Don’t wash your bed linens before you move. When you get to your new home, make your bed with those familiar sheets so they can understand on a scent level that this new place is your, and their, home.
8. Keep to your cats’ routine as much as possible
If your cats are used to being fed at certain times of day, continue that schedule in your new home. The sense of familiarity will reduce stress.
9. Take it easy on yourself, too
You don’t have to unpack every single box before you settle down for the evening. Take some time to chill out and read a book or watch some TV. Your cats will appreciate being able to spend time with you, and it will reassure them that all is well.
What have you done to help your cats during a move? Please share your tips in the comments.
About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.
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