After 3 years in our previous home, I recently moved my 2 Siamese cats, Meeko and Winston, into our new flat. Anyone who knows anything about cats knows they don’t like change, and mine are no exception. Here are 5 tips to help you and your feline companion adjust to your new surroundings as quickly as possible.
Prepare the New Space for Arrival
Luckily, I was able to gain access to my flat over a week before I planned to move the bulk of my belongings, and the cats, into our new home. This gave me plenty of time to purchase a new pack of Feliway calming pheromone diffusers.
I plugged 1 into each room the cats would have access to, ensuring the greatest chance that they’d feel more comfortable in the new space.
For those unfamiliar with Feliway, it’s a synthetic version of the pheromone cats naturally produce in their cheeks. In my experience, it genuinely does help reduce a cat’s stress while making them feel safer and more secure.
The sooner you can get these diffusers going, the better. But you’ll want to ensure they have at least 24 hours to run.
Update Your Cat’s Microchip, Tag and Veterinary information
Fortunately, my move was local and I didn’t have to change vets, which is handy because my vet’s information is associated with Meeko and Winston’s microchips and their tags. In fact, the only information on their tags is their name, my phone number, and the word “microchipped”.
No matter where you’ve moved, what you have on your cat’s tag, or what information is associated with their microchip, make sure it’s all consistent and up to date.
Choose a Room for Your Cat to Stay In
This applies both to the space you’re leaving, as well as the one you’ll soon be occupying. When I moved from my old home, I closed Meeko and Winston into one room with a litter box, some water, and a few of their favourite toys.
This kept them from seeing the movers who were taking our furniture away and making loud noises. It also ensured they weren’t underfoot during the process.
Once I arrived at the new location, I followed similar steps. I left them in their transport carriers while the movers and I set up their new space. Their cat tree, toys, litter box, water, and bed all went into their new room. Once the space was prepared, I closed the door to the room, opened their carriers and let them out to explore at their own pace.
Let Your Cat Explore Slowly
Then I slipped out to assist the movers with the rest of the flat while they had time to get to know their surroundings.
I did my best to get all my furniture into the flat and unpack as many boxes as possible before I opened the door from the cats’ room into the rest of the space.
I also made sure their items were in the spaces I planned to leave them: cat trees, scratching posts, water bowls, litter boxes, etc. Ideally, you want to establish these things once and refrain from moving them around again. This is in part because cats have a fascinating way of exploring new territory.
Once a cat has sufficiently explored one space (in this case, their new room), and you’ve provided them the opportunity to explore more, they will slowly and cautiously make their way out of that space into the next area available to them. Then they will track back to the space they know.
Using all their senses, especially scent, they will not only learn the layout of the new space, but also how to get back to their safe room as quickly as possible. Depending on the size of your home, this can take some time. In fact, if your new home has many floors you may consider leaving some of them blocked off for a while so as not to overwhelm them.
In a flat, the process goes rather quickly. Meeko and Winston stepped out of their room and into the hallway. Then they went back to their room. Then they went a bit further until they found themselves in the open living area and, again, made their way back to their room.
This process continued until they had mapped out the entire living space. As cats become come more comfortable, they’ll begin sniffing and cheek marking items they recognize. This is a good sign!
It’s important to spend this initial time with your cat, reassuring them as they explore, rewarding them for their bravery and, where necessary, and letting them know when they’ve reached an area you may wish to keep off limits. Patience and a loving voice are key here, so don’t take on this step until you are well and truly ready to focus on their needs and to watch and reinforce their behaviours.
Keep a Calm Environment and Have Patience
Moving is a stressful time for everyone, but especially for your cat. Be patient as they settle into their new home with you. Understand that new noises may spook them easily and understand that a cat who has never hidden away from you may do so on occasion for the first week or so. Reassure them as you can and do your best to avoid making loud noises.
If you’re able, clear the space of boxes and other items that won’t be staying in the environment permanently. The faster you’re able to create a permanent space for you all, the more quickly you’ll all settle in. Don’t forget, your cat can sense your stress, as well. Make plenty of time for cuddles and pay attention to new noises or movements that irritate them.
In our new flat, there is a small dog a few doors down who yaps loudly for a minute or so without warning. Whenever this happened initially, I let the boys react instinctively. Usually, this meant they bolted from the main living area where the noise was loudest, and then I would reassure them by going to wherever they’d gone to get away from it all.
As the days went by, they would stay in the living area, ears back and tails down, looking at each other and at me. Again, I would reassure them calmly. While they still don’t love this unexpected interruption, they are no longer afraid and have begun to accept it as part of the new environment.
While moving with a cat can be a stressful experience it doesn’t have to be. With proper planning and an understanding of your feline companion, it can be one that leads to a cozy environment sooner than later for you all.