cat in a moving box preparing to move.

Moving with Cats: Your Practical Guide

Moving house is stressful for homeowners, let alone for your little furry friend. Moving with cats can be a tad challenging because of several reasons.

Most cats are anxious and shy. They don’t like change or new environments. Moving cats from their sanctuary to a whole new environment can be a traumatising experience if done without any care.

If your destination is a long distance away, for example if you are moving from Perth to Melbourne, it adds another layer of complication. Under those circumstances you are always best-off using an experienced pet transport provider, one that can also take care of all your interstate furniture moving. Relocations WA happens to be one of them and we’d love to help you move with your cats.

➜ You might also be interested in our Interstate Pet Transport Cost Guide

Moving Interstate with Cats - Pet Transport Services

Moving with cats is quite different to moving with dogs. This is why relocating cats to a new home requires its own planning and preparation.

So without further ado, here you will find our ultimate guide on moving with cats.

17 Best Tips on Moving with Cats

Here are some tips to consider to help put nervous cats at ease when moving them to a new environment.

Moving with a Cat - What to do before moving day

Before Moving Cats to a New Home

To ensure a smooth moving experience for both you and your feline friends, it’s important to start preparing for the move to your new house well in advance. Here are some things you can do in the weeks leading up to your move.

1. Familiarise them with boxes and other moving stuff

One of your priorities as a fur parent when it comes to tips on how to relocate a cat to a new home is to ensure there is minimal disruption in the daily routine of your feline babies.

You wouldn’t want them taking special notice of boxes or cartons and other packing materials coming in, and start feeling confused and anxious about the changes. Also, if they see the furniture disappearing in quick succession, your cats could also start feeling agitated.

To avoid subjecting your cats to moving-related stress, start introducing the boxes you’ll use for packing weeks ahead of your move. This way, they can start getting used to the presence of these items. Gradually start packing to get your cats accustomed to the sound of packing tape being unrolled or wrapped around boxes.

If you have a spare room or any available space, start moving the furniture there a few weeks before your move date. Start by moving a piece or two, just as you’re gradually adding boxes to the living room or whichever area your cats frequent.

By making slow, gradual changes in your cats’ environment, you’re giving them time to adjust to their surroundings and whatever moving-related activities they might have to witness for several days.

2. Update collar or microchip information

You can exert all efforts to keep your cats from feeling stressed and attempting to run away from your old or new home. However, you wouldn’t want to take chances in case one of them manages to escape.

This is why it’s crucial to ensure your cats’ identification information is complete and updated – whether they are wearing an ID collar or are microchipped. In case one of them does get away, contacting and locating you would be easier, and you’ll be reunited with each other as quickly as possible.

3. Help get your cats familiar with their cat carriers

It’s likely that on moving day, your cat is going to spend a lot of time in its carrier. If you have a cat that freaks out at the sight of the carrier, you’re going to want to spend extra time in advance getting your cat familiar with it. If you’re relocating interstate, you’ll likely need to purchase a new carrier that is suitable for airplane travel.

In the weeks leading up to the move, start re-introducing the carriers. Instead of forcing your cats into their individual carriers straight away, leave those open for them to explore in their own time. One way to start getting your cats more comfortable is using positive reinforcement. You can do this by placing their favourite food or tasty treats inside the carriers. If you are moving interstate or long distance, you can place T-shirts or pieces of clothing that you’ve worn recently to give your cats a familiar scent.

4. Keep your cats in one room whilst you pack up your house

Your cats aren’t going to be used to seeing boxes everywhere, strangers coming in and out and rooms without their furniture. Whilst packing is inevitable, you can try to contain your cats in one room whilst everything is going on. In this room, you can bring in your cats their food, water and litter tray to ensure they have everything they need.

Leaving your cats in one room ensures they are kept away from the chaos. Sure they’re going to know something is up, but the last thing you want is one of your cats escaping out the front door on moving day.

5. Speak to your local vet

If your cats are extremely anxious you can talk to your vet for some tips. In some cases, they may be able to offer a mild sedative to help relax your cats during the move. If you’re moving locally, boarding your cats for a day might be a less stressful option.

Moving with Cats - Best tips on what to do on moving day

Moving with Cats on Moving Day

Protect your cats from the stress of moving day by following these tips:

6. Serve them light meals

Just like in humans, cats can feel stress and worry throughout their body, including in the stomach. By reducing the amount of food your cats eat on moving day, you can lessen the likelihood of your cats experiencing stomach discomfort or vomiting. This will also come in handy if your cats are prone to becoming car or airplane sick.

7. Keep your cats contained

When it’s time to load the moving truck, you’ll be opening and closing your front door frequently, and the last thing you want is for one of your cats to slip by you.

Keep an eye on your cats at all times, especially if you have removalists and there are strangers in the vicinity. You don’t have to put your cats in their carriers just yet – not unless it’s absolutely essential. However, make sure they are in a secure place and that someone is watching over them.

If friends or movers are coming to assist you with your relocation, inform them about your cats inside and that the door must be kept shut at all times. Better yet, hang up a sign on the doors people are using with instructions to keep those closed at all times. While your cats may not enjoy being locked up, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that they’re safe and will be surrounded by familiar objects and scents.

8. Let them in their carriers

For a smooth move, you need a strategy for moving your cats to a new home. Just before you’re ready to leave, put your cats in their individual carriers. Even if they’re visibly unhappy in there, resist the desire to let them out while in transit.

Never open a carrier in the middle of your trip no matter how badly you want to soothe your cat. Doing so will increase the chances of your cat darting into unknown territory.

Stay as calm as possible, because animals are masters at reading our body language — the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your cats will be. When you arrive at your new home, select a room for housing the carriers and close the door.

Open the carriers one by one to allow your cats out. Then, just as you did at your previous home, keep your cats in the room until all of the boxes are inside and the front door is securely shut.

Distribute familiar items around their new room (a small amount of food, drink, toys, bed, and litter box) so they can smell things they know. Put some treats throughout the room to encourage them to explore the area.

Your next concern now would be how to transition cats to a new home – and we have just the tips to help you with that.

Moving with cats - Best tips to help cats settle in after the move

Settling Cats Into Your New Home

You’ve made it to your new destination with your furry friends in tow! However, cats can get stressed out from moving, so it’s crucial to know how to make cats feel comfortable in a new home. Here are some things to help your cats settle into your new place.

9. Give your cats a room whilst you settle in

Just like when you packed up your previous home, whilst unpacking at your new house, it’s a good idea to keep your cats in a separate room.

To help settle them, make sure you include their litter box, food and water bowls, favourite toys, bedding, and any familiar scents like small pieces of furniture or clothing. Nervous cats love to hide and even the smallest narrow gaps can be a lucrative hiding spot for a stressed-out cat. You want to also make sure you choose a room with the windows closed, doors shut and minimal hiding spots.

10. Slowly introduce your cats to the rest of your house

If you let your cats roam the whole house the minute you get there, they’ll likely immediately seek refuge in a hard to reach hiding spot. It’s a good idea to give your cats at least two weeks to adjust to the new room of your house before letting them explore the rest of the house.

However, you know your pet best, some might need more or less time. Once you feel your cats have adjusted and are less stressed, you can start introducing new rooms and then eventually, the rest of your house.

11. Keep your cats indoors until they’re comfortable

If you have outdoor cats, give them some time before you introduce them to your new backyard. Your cats may get disoriented in their new surroundings. The last thing you want is your cats getting lost in a foreign neighbourhood.

When you are ready to let your cats play in the backyard, supervise them to ensure they don’t roam too far. It’s also a good idea to ensure their pet tag is up to date and your cats are registered with your local council

Frequently Asked Questions when Moving House with a Cat

Moving With Cats – FAQs

Do cats get stressed when moving?

Changes in their surroundings can cause anxiety in cats, as they are territorial animals. Whether you’re moving overseas, interstate, or down the street, or if there are ongoing major renovations in your home, your cats will experience stress as they have a need to feel in control of their environment.

Cats often find moving homes difficult because they develop a strong bond with their old home.

You may already know it, but in their bid to establish their territory, they mark and scent every room in your home and each piece of furniture. This is why something as simple as moving furniture about, remodelling, or adding new furnishings can create irritation and confusion in some cats since you’ll be disrupting or changing their familiar old habitat.

It’s no wonder cats usually display stress-related behaviours like scratching, and urine spraying when they realise they’re shifting homes completely.

How do you move an outdoor cat to a new location?

Moving is usually a stressful experience for both humans and their pets. However, this scenario can get more complicated when it involves moving an outdoor cat.

There are a few things you can do to assist an outdoor cat in adjusting to his carrier and new surroundings if you’re moving to a new home. Consider taking the following steps to make your move less stressful for your outdoor feline friend:

  • Get his vaccinations updated and ensure he is microchipped. This way, in case he tries to get away at any stage of your moving preparations, it’ll be easier to track him (or his owner – you) down.
  • Give your cat time to acclimate to a carrier. Place the carrier outside with some snacks or your cat’s favourite items, like a blanket, cushion or toy. Outdoor scents will eventually overpower the carrier’s weird, unfamiliar scents, and your cat will no longer find it as frightening. He might even begin sleeping in the carrier.
  • If your cat is too feral, consider utilising a safe trap made specifically for cats. To persuade your cat to get inside, place his favourite food inside the trap that will automatically close once he’s safely inside.
  • When driving to your new destination, avoid loud music and talk to your cat in a soothing manner. Don’t let him out of the carrier while driving.
  • Keep your cat indoors initially, such as in the garage, laundry room, an enclosed patio or an empty room. With all the new smells, sights, and sounds, your cat will be apprehensive, confused and afraid. Secure your cat, keep him comfortable and feed him well. Make sure you serve his favourite foods and give him interactive toys, so he begins to associate your new home with pleasant memories.
  • Some experts advise keeping your cat home for up to two weeks before letting him go outside alone. If cats haven’t bonded with their new home yet, they may try to return to their previous one.
  • Once his ‘home bonding’ period is over, you may allow your cat to go freely outside while supervised. Try to bring him back inside every night. You could even limit his time outside if he hasn’t eaten in roughly eight hours. This will encourage him to return for his meal. Leave his favourite blanket outside so he can track his scent back to your new home easily.
  • This is also a good time to convert your outdoor cat into an indoor one, if that’s what you’ve always wanted. The early home bonding days may be just the right time for him to get used to all the new smells and sounds and see if he enjoys being inside.

What’s the best way to move an older cat to a new home?

Moving a cat – young or old – requires planning, patience and consistency.

And remember, when it comes to settling a cat into a new home, food, hugs and familiar things can help your cat feel at ease. Show your pet that you are dependable and present; but don’t smother him. Make physical contact available, but don’t force it. Just knowing you’re there can ease your cat’s anxiety.

How long should you keep a cat inside when you move?

For two weeks, confine your cat to the house. It’s critical that you don’t let your cat go outdoors until he is completely comfortable in his new home. Keeping him in the house for two weeks before letting him venture outside ensures he is fully adjusted to his new surroundings. This will also reduce the likelihood of him attempting to return to your previous home.

During this period, be very cautious and vigilant. Avoid leaving doors or windows open, and don’t give in if you have a particularly adventurous cat who is desperate to get outside.

How do you change a cat’s microchip address?

Your cat’s information could be stored in a variety of databases depending on the type or brand of microchip he has.

If you’re not sure which database their information is stored on, contact your veterinarian or the professional who implanted their microchip. If you got your cat from a homing centre, they may also be able to tell you. Alternatively, you can find out by inputting your microchip number into national databases.

The process of updating the details is simple and can be done online once you know the microchip number and the database to which it is linked. However, changing information usually costs money. Some companies allow for unlimited changes as part of membership privileges, whilst others charge for each change.

Do cats get upset when you leave them?

Based on what we know about animal cognition; we can deduce that cats like to be near things that are helpful for them. Food, shelter, water, and affection are all important things that animals identify with their owners.

This provides consistency, and cats are intelligent enough to realise that it is beneficial to their survival to have those things around. They become connected to those pleasant, essential things immediately, and any affection they develop for their owner follows.

Cats notice when the person they connect with survival and stability disappears, and they get agitated. Cats can become ill when they are exposed to change.

Some cats vocalise around their home after a long period of separation from their owner. Cats do not communicate with one another and only meow when they are in the presence of humans. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that when they vocalise, their meows are directed toward their owner.

When a cat’s owner dies but the cat isn’t rehomed properly, the cat will often show signs of depression. These include lethargy, the absence of vocalisation, and aversion to eating. When the cat is rehomed, he will show clear signs of anxiety, until he is finally bonded to his new surroundings.

How do you calm down an anxious cat?

Cats become anxious for a variety of reasons. It could be because they are sick, in pain, stressed with changes in their environment, traumatised, etc.

If you have a cat who seems stressed, there are a number of remedies you can try to alleviate his anxiety:

  • Minimise stress by providing your cat a good environment. If your cat is attached to a cushion or carrier, make sure it’s in the room designated for your cat, so he can use anytime he feels like it. Keep his litter box clean, provide interactive toys and install a cat tower. The last two allow for sufficient stimulation, so your cat is never bored and won’t be tempted to engage in destructive behaviour.  
  • Provide your cat opportunities to engage in enjoyable activities. Cats enjoy playing and exploring. You can allocate some playtime with him and give him a few new toys as extra entertainment options. If your cat has a lot of things, hide some of the toys and rotate them to keep your cat interested.
  • Consider natural treatments. Aside from the above, you can give your cat natural products like CBD oil to provide anxiety relief. Aromatherapy products can also help your cat relax. If you’re unsure about these options, consult your veterinarian.

Want more advice? Speak to the team at Relocations WA!

Moving with pets doesn’t have to be stressful! With a bit of time, love and care, your cats will settle and enjoy their new territory. If you’re looking for a removalist with interstate pet transport, look no further than Relocations WA.

We’ve got decades of experience in both local and interstate removals, you can rest assured the safety and well-being of your cat is our top priority.

Get in contact with our team today!

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