You’re moving! And you’re dreading the impact on your cat. You know that many cats love their places and seem to be very place-sensitive. You wonder about how your cat will react. Will she learn to get used to the new place? Will she misbehave? Take heart — there are ways to minimize the stress of moving — for you and for your cat. Use your intuition and common sense to work out strategies to make the move easier. Here are some things that have worked for me in the past.
1. Be calm about the move
Our cats pick up on our emotions. If you’re feeling stressed about the upcoming move (and seriously, who doesn’t get a little stressed about moving — it’s a huge change), your cat may feel your stress. So stay cool. Reassure your cat and spend plenty of quality time with her before, during, and after the move. Do the things with her she loves best — snuggling, playing, brushing — whatever your cat loves and whatever will imply “home” and normalcy even during change. And monitor your own emotions. Try to bring a sense of calmness and purpose to the move, as opposed to frenetic panic.
2. Bring a lot along that’s familiar to your cat, and have it ready and nearby
Make sure your cat’s favorite things that remind her home are easy for you to get at after the move. Yes, cats are place-sensitive, but for some cats, having a familiar box or toy to play in could serve as a sense of place-within-a-place. So have your cat’s favorite toys, blankets, boxes, tents (yes, tents — see the pictures below), and any other favorites in an easy-to-get-to place when you arrive at your new destination. Your cat will appreciate some semblance of familiarity and home. The more gracefully you can ease her into the move, the happier she’ll be in the long run.
3. Help the cat slowly adjust, if needed, by introducing the cat to the new space a little bit at a time
Your cat may be overwhelmed if you immediately let her loose in a huge new place (assuming you are moving to a huge place). Instead, take it one room at a time. How you proceed may depend upon the personality of your cat. If she is fearless and adventuresome, and if things roll off her shoulders, she might love to explore the whole new place right away. If she is tentative and leery of new change, give her the change gradually. You might get her used to a bedroom first, or a bathroom. Let your cat’s personality determine the speed at which you integrate him or her into a new place.
4. Put things in place ahead of time so you’re not freaking out in an already potentially stressful situation
Cat-proof the new abode before you let your cat loose. Check for any dangers that could cause trouble for your cat (escape holes or places she could get stuck, string, exposed wires, and more) and resolve these before you let your cat start exploring. If you don’t want your cat to open particular doors, make sure that those door shut firmly. You’ll be learning the lay of the land, too, and you might want to know it before your cat does. On a larger scale, you might consider having a new veterinarian in place, if you’re moving to a place where you are no longer accessible to the services of your previous vet.
5. Breathe, relax, and use remedies if needed
Is your cat still unhinged? You might try certain holistic remedies such as Calming Essence or Rescue Remedy. Consult with your veterinarian about the application of these remedies for animals. In some cases, humans may take these internally, while cats may have to take them topically. I have used Rescue Remedy on myself during an extremely stressful situation (a relative’s death) and could swear I felt it kick in and do its job. I have used Calming Essence for cats who stress out on car rides and have had good results. Consult with your veterinarian regarding how to give these remedies to your cats.
Have you moved? How have you made the move easier for your cats? Share your stories in the comments!
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