You may have noticed that your cat has a schedule they follow every day or particular spots that they favor in your home. These routines are what make them feel safe and comfortable. Simply put, cats are creatures of habit. With this in mind, it is easy to understand how the changes that come with a move can be stressful for your feline friend. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make this transition less anxiety-provoking, though.
If you want your cat’s move to be as stress-free as possible, here are 5 things you should consider.
1. Isolate on Moving Day
A cat can quickly become overwhelmed by the strange noises and new smells on moving day, so it is best to separate them from the action by isolating them to one room. Not only does this ensure that they don’t zip out the door or become a tripping hazard, but it also gives them a less chaotic place to spend their time. Just be sure to tell any movers or helpers what room your cat is in, so they know not to open the door before the cat gets relocated. On top of that, you should also:
- Pick a room that your cat naturally enjoys or spends a lot of time in.
- Check the room for any hazards like boxes piled too high before you confine your kitty.
- Place their food, water, litter, toys, and bed in the room as well.
- If the room is already mostly cleared out, consider adding an empty box or two for makeshift hiding spots.
- Be sure to give your cats lots of pets and positive attention when you initially put them in the room, as well as when you visit periodically throughout the day.
2. Create Calm with Food
Like we said before, cats love their routines, so sticking to their feeding schedule will go a long way. This can be hard, especially on moving day, but the sooner you resume feedings at their regular time, the better. Something that you also may want to consider is incorporating a few cat treats formulated to ease anxiety. Many stress-relieving varieties use tryptophan, which is the ingredient in turkey that makes you feel sleepy. Additionally, you can also talk to your vet about incorporating some stress-reducing herbs into your cat’s diet, like catnip or chamomile flowers.
3. Put the Carrier Out Early
If your cat puts up a fight when it comes to their carrier, then try putting it out a few weeks before your move. Even just leaving it in an area that your cat frequents will help them get better acquainted and more comfortable. However, you can also use a more proactive approach and try to get your cat to associate their carrier with a positive experience—as opposed to car rides and vet visits.
To do this, try playing with them in a way that makes them go in or around their carrier. You may also want to throw a treat inside now and then to encourage them to explore. The treat method tends to work especially well if your furry friend is food motivated. If you are planning your move far in advance, you may even want to consider clicker training – a training method that uses a combination of a clicker and treats—to create positive association.
4. Tend to Your Cat’s Sense of Smell
A cat’s sense of smell is anywhere from 9-16 times more powerful than humans, meaning they can detect even small changes in scent. Therefore, you can imagine how jolting a move can be with so many new smells. Here are a few ways to help your cat when it comes to scents.
Try Pheromones: You can get pheromone mimicking diffusers, collars, or sprays to help your cat feel more at ease at any point in your moving journey. These work by mimicking the pheromones that cats naturally emit from their facial glands, and they generally have no side effects. However, it can be best to use the spray or diffuser for this calming aid, as opposed to the collar. That way, if your cat doesn’t like it, they can always get away from the scent. One of the most common choices is Feliway.
Avoid Washing: Both you and your cat’s belongings that moved from your old home will have retained their smell, which can be a big comfort. Things to consider holding off on washing for a few weeks include your cat’s bed and soft toys, as well as bedding from anywhere your cat commonly sleeps.
Start Small: Having access to the full house right away can be sensory overload. So, once you arrive at your destination, you should once again confine your cat to one room. Let zip around to smell and explore their new home once everything has been moved in—just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t squeeze into anywhere they aren’t supposed to be. You can repeat the process of confinement and exploration as many times as you feel necessary. If you have a larger home, you may even want to close a few doors for the first exploration.
5. Dress to De-Stress
A Thundershirt is a vest for cats that can help them feel more secure by applying gentle pressure to their body, much like a swaddle or weighted blanket. However, it is worth noting that this certainly isn’t for every cat. The Thundershirt works great if you can get it on your cat, but if your cat is fidgety or doesn’t like being over handled, the stress of putting on the vest may not be worth it.
And finally, don’t forget to give your furry friend lots of love and attention during the moving process. Moving is stressful for everyone, but by planning your move well and using a few calming aids, you can help your cat combat stress and adjust to their new home with ease. And if you want to slide a few empty moving boxes their way, well, that’s never a bad idea!
Nancy Zafrani is the general manager of Oz Moving & Storage in NYC. A day-one employee of Oz, she has 25 years of experience in the moving industry. As a New Yorker, Nancy also has lots of experience dealing with small apartments and organizing.