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How to Move House with a Cat

Adele MacGregor

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

31st Jan 2022 (Last updated on 16th Dec 2022) 8 minute read

Moving into a new home can be an exciting time but if you own a cat, it can be an unsettling event for them. Cats can become quite skittish and may try to return to your old house. They may also be anxious for the first few days or weeks in your new home.

Be aware that your reaction is likely to have an impact on your cat, so being organised and calm is essential. In this article, we share tips and advice on how you can prepare when moving with your cat and ensure a smooth and stress-free move.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Why Moving House With a Cat Can Be Stressful
  2. Planning Ahead of the Big Move
  3. During the Move
  4. After the move
  5. How Long Should You Keep Your Cat Indoors After Moving?
  6. Preventing Cats from Returning to Your Old Home
  7. Moving With an Outdoor Cat
  8. Moving With an Older Cat
  9. Moving Your Pets with Compare My Move

Why Moving House With a Cat Can Be Stressful

The moving process, and moving into a new home, can be a stressful time. That stress can be exacerbated depending on how your animal responds. Cats can be skittish and react to those around them, so it's vital that you are prepared when moving house with a pet.

Cats can become distressed at this time, leading to more stress for you as you try to keep the animal calm.
The new property and surroundings will be unfamiliar. Be prepared for your feline companion to be wary at first. If your cat is a rescue, it could be more likely to feel nervous and unsettled.

Some rescue animals get especially upset, thinking they are being abandoned or returned. Being aware of this, and other vulnerabilities your cat has is vital to safeguarding them.

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Planning Ahead of the Big Move

As we’ve mentioned above, the best way to minimise stress and anxiety during a move is to plan ahead. You will know your cat best so keep in mind their habits, routines and favourite items. This way you can ensure the move causes as little distress as possible.

Being organised with regard to microchips, collars and vets are also an essential step. Below we look at a few of the ways you can plan for moving with a cat and how it can help your feline feel secure:

Microchip and/or update details

Change your address and contact details on the central database for your cat’s microchip. If your cat doesn’t have a microchip, it is highly recommended that you arrange this.

Get a collar

If your cat doesn’t wear a collar, getting a collar with your contact details attached is recommended. This can be a help if your cat gets lost in your new neighbourhood or town.

Find a new local vet and register

Finding a new vet before your move is essential in the event you have an emergency early on. Do research, read reviews and compare vets in the area. Make sure you register in time for your move.

Getting your cat used to a travelling crate

This is something you can do in the lead-up to the move. If you introduce your cat to the travelling crate on the day of the move, it may be anxious and frightened.

In the weeks and days leading up to your house move, get your cat used to the crate. Build up to taking them out on a drive in it with favourite toys and comforting items.

During the Move

On the day of the move, there are a few steps you can take to make the moving process less stressful for your cat. These are also steps you can take whilst you unpack and during the first few weeks of moving to your new home:

Leave your cat with a family member or friend if possible

When you move into the home and begin unpacking, try to leave your cat with family or a friend. Preferably one they are familiar with. New surroundings will be stressful enough, without the added stress of removalists around.

Once everything is settled, you can gradually introduce your cat to the new home.

Clean the house and scent mark

Before your cat comes into the home, clean to remove smells from old owners, especially if they had pets. You can then introduce items of your clothing with familiar smells and your cat’s toys and bedding.

Set up a safe area

Set aside an area that your cat knows is theirs, preferably out of a high-traffic area or where you are unpacking. Make it familiar with cosy bedding and blankets and your cat’s favourite items. This will help them feel at home more quickly and keep them calm.

Initial exploration of the home

Once the removal team has gone and the home is quieter and organised, slowly introduce your cat to the home. A walk-through with your cat on the day is recommended. Keep in mind it will take days or even weeks for them to fully accept the property as their new home.

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After the move

Once the move is completed there will still be steps to take to ensure the wellbeing of your pet. Your cat will need to accept the new property as its new home and this can sometimes take time. However, there are a number of things you can do to make the process easier for both you and your cat.

Familiarise your cat with your new home

It is likely your cat will be wary of its new surroundings so take the time to show them around the home. This includes where their specific “safe” area is, where you will sleep, where their food is and so on. It will take time, but gradually introducing them to their new home can help make them feel safe.

Keep routines the same

Another way to reassure your cat in the new home is to keep to the same routines. This includes feeding times, types of food, letting them out or any other activity that keeps them in a routine. This will help them to feel safe and settled.

Familiar scents

As with dogs, cats can be very sensitive to smells. Having familiar scents around, such as items of your clothing or comforting blankets they lean towards, will help settle them into the new home. Keep various items of worn clothing or other items with your scent around the house in the first few days and weeks in the new home.

Give your cat time to adjust

As with dogs, cats can be very sensitive to smells. Having familiar scents around, like clothing or comforting blankets, will help settle them into the home.

How Long Should You Keep Your Cat Indoors After Moving?

The RSPCA recommends keeping cats indoors for at least two weeks after moving house. This ensures your cat's behaviour has settled before letting them outside.

This is to avoid them getting into perilous situations if, for example, your cat tries to return to your old home.

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Preventing Cats from Returning to Your Old Home

Cats are territorial animals and develop strong attachments to their environment. When you move house. Cats showing up on the doorstep of an old property is not uncommon, as that is where they identify as “home”.

Creating a safe place in the home and keeping your cat indoors for the first weeks can help prevent your cat from returning to your old home. However, it would also be worth informing the new owners of your old house about possible visits.

Give them a detailed description of your pet and ask that they don't make a fuss or give treats as it will encourage the cat to return. Make sure they have your contact details in the event your cat shows up at their door.

Moving With an Outdoor Cat

When moving house with an outdoor cat, you will need to get them used to the surrounding area as well as the home itself. Below we’ve listed our top tips to keeping your cat safe and familiarising them with the new neighbourhood:

  • Check that the immediate area is safe and roads aren’t too busy
  • If you have a garden, try spending time with your cat there before going further afield
  • Take your cat around the local neighbourhood on a leash if possible
  • When your cat first explores outside, stay close by with treats and toys
  • Try to keep a routine early on of when your cat goes out, for example, before mealtime
  • Install a cat flap so they can easily get back inside

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      Moving With an Older Cat

      Older cats may not be as active as younger cats and kittens, but they can still be skittish during the move.

      Once in the new property, spread out favourite toys and blankets to make it feel familiar. Using old blankets or clothing items with your scent on them will help your cat to settle. This can help reassure an older cat, who will be used to familiar surroundings. This is especially important if they have grown older in your previous home

      Moving Your Pets with Compare My Move

      Animals are very perceptive and they can sense when you are stressed or unsettled. If you are panicked or stressed during the move, it’s likely your cat will be too.

      We have a large network of reliable removal companies across the UK who can help your move run smoothly.

      By taking the stress out of the move, you can focus on the wellbeing of your feline companion.
      We can match you with up to 6 local, verified and insured removal firms, allowing you to pick the right company for you.

      Adele MacGregor

      Having worked at Compare My Move for over four years, Adele covers topics such as the conveyancing process across the UK, property surveys, home moves and storage.

      Dave Sayce

      Reviewed by Dave Sayce

      Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

      Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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