Use of pheromones
Cats make a pheromone when they feel secure which helps them identify home. Cats spread this pheromone around their home by rubbing their faces on things. You can buy plug-in diffusers or sprays that infuse this pheromone into the air – this helps cats feel calmer and safer. Keeping a cat calm is easier than calming a stressed cat so plugging in a diffuser should be done at least 24 hours before you start any changes at home, including packing to move.
Keep your routine the same while you pack
Your cat is used to a routine. This may not be regimented, but they will know in general when food and rest times are, and when they will spend time with you and when they will be alone. This routine is important, and gives your cat a sense of security and control in their home environment.
Make a cat-safe zone
Slowly moving your cat’s food, water, bedding, favoured toys and litter tray into a quiet room like a spare bedroom can help create a ‘home within a home’ where your cat can feel safe if there is a lot of disruption going on elsewhere in the house. Moving your cat’s possessions should happen slowly and your cat haven should be set up at least a week before you move to get your cat fully accustomed to it.
Put out your cat’s travelling box
If you only get out the cat box just before a journey, your cat will quickly associate the box with being constrained, and likely with cattery or vet trips – not great! Having the box open and in the house for a few weeks ahead of your travel will allow your cat to get used to it. Try putting favoured treats or toys in there, to aid your cat in getting a more positive view of the box, or use a pheromone spray to make the box seem more attractive.
Travelling with your cat
If your cat doesn’t travel well, speak to your vet in advance about how to manage this – they may suggest different carrier types, advise on covering the carrier, give advice on when to feed, and other tips depending on your cat, the circumstances and duration of your travel.
Register with a local vet
Just before you move, or as soon as possible after, you should register your cat with a local vet. With an unfamiliar environment, and lots of open doors and strangers, it is easy for your cat to get in an accident so making sure you know what to do if there is an emergency with your cat is important.
Change microchip details
With lots of open doors as you move in boxes, and all the disruption of moving day, it can be easy for your cat to get outside and get lost. Making sure your cat’s microchip details are up-to-date with your new address, and that your other contact details are still correct, should be done a day or so before you move. A new tag for your cat’s collar, if they wear one, should also be made with your new details on.
Clean your new house thoroughly, especially if the previous owners had cats
Scent is hugely important to cats, much more than to humans, and they are very sensitive to it. Making sure to clean thoroughly at ‘cat height’ and wipe down areas that could have a cat-scent on will leave the house clean for your own household smells. This will help your cat feel like your new home is also their new home faster and stop them being wary of any scent ‘competition’.
Check your new house is cat-safe
Although, with outdoor cats, it is impossible to control where they go, make sure that you are aware of potential dangers such as major roads. Inside the house, if you have any ‘new home’ flowers, make sure any lilies don’t come inside – these are highly toxic to cats, and even a little of the pollen can kill.