Moving is stressful for humans; it can be even more stressful for cats. If you think that you don’t do well with change, try driving across the country with your cat in the passenger seat. After several days of listening to your cat’s yowling and hissing, you’ll feel much better about your own anxiety.
If you’re in the process of moving and you’re worried about traumatizing your cat in the process, here are seven tips for the purrrfect move for both you and your feline friend.
Preparation is Key
Consider this your mantra: Cats don’t like change. Cats don’t like change. Cats don’t like change.
Repeat it as needed when moving with your cat. The first step to making a move easier on your cat is to introduce him to his carrier a week or two before you pack up. Leave it open in your home. Place treats and toys in it. Allow him to explore it but don’t force him to. This carrier is for his safety and yours (the last thing you want is your cat to hop on the dashboard in front of your face while you’re driving), so make sure it’s familiar to both of you.
Talk to Your Vet
Before you hit the road, talk to your vet. If your cat has anxiety to the point where you’re worried about his safety, ask about prescription anti-anxiety medicine. There are also natural options available containing ingredients like valerian and chamomile that can be obtained without a prescription, but you should check with your vet first before picking these up.
This is a great time to get paperwork showing your cat’s vaccination status, as you may need this when crossing state lines, staying in hotels or signing a lease at a new apartment.
Keep Your Cat Secured
When moving into or out of a home, keep your cat secured behind a closed door so that he can’t slip out the door. Have ID tags that include your phone number so that if your cat gets loose during a move, whoever finds him can help get him back to you.
Stay at Cat-Friendly Hotels
For some reason, a pet-friendly hotel often means a dog-friendly hotel. If you’ll be staying in hotels during your move, be sure to book in advance at places that allow cats. Chain hotels that allow cats include Hilton, La Quinta and Drury Hotels, but policies vary by property. You can also consider booking through Airbnb, where pet policies are very clear, or stay with friends along the way.
Stick to a Routine
Loading boxes and driving all day isn’t generally a part of anyone’s routine—truck drivers excluded—but it’s important to try to keep things as normal as possible for your cat. Feed your cat at the same times of day as you would at home and play with him as much as possible. Make sure he has access to his favorite toys and treats as well.
Don’t Forget the Litter Box
The thought of being in close quarters with your cat’s litter box is an unpleasant one, but you must make a plan for it. A disposable litter box is a great option (they’re made of cardboard-like material) if you want to throw it out every day. Other options include a portable litter box (just like your standard litter box but smaller) or simply sticking to the one you already have. Remember: Cats don’t like change.
No matter what you do, stressing your cat out during a move is unavoidable. Your cat may express anxiety by shedding, scratching, yowling, throwing up, biting or acting strangely in some other way. Don’t take it personally. Be patient and have a plan for what to do if your cat is in serious distress. This might mean having medication on hand, having a vet’s number you can call or stopping for a few days to chill out.
Once you’re at your new place, allow your cat time to adjust. The sights, smells and sounds of your new home and new neighborhood are just as unfamiliar to him as they are to you. Let your cat explore and get comfortable. It may take a few days or even a few weeks, but you’ll both be settled in before you know it.