Moving home with a cat

Moving your cat to a new house doesn’t have to be stressful. With a little bit of forward planning, you can ensure a smooth transition for you and your cat. Find out how to look after your cat’s needs before, during and after the move.

Why moving can be difficult for your cat

Moving can be unpleasant for cats because they’re very territorial creatures. It takes time for a cat to establish their own territory and feel comfortable in a new place.

Cats are also very sensitive. The sight and sound of packing can confuse them, and strangers – such as real estate agents and removalists – can make them feel threatened. They also don’t like it when their routines are disrupted. All of this can make moving home with a cat tricky.

How to prepare your cat for a move

Here are some things you can do before the move to reassure your cat:

  • Introduce boxes early – The good news is: cats like boxes. So if you introduce packing boxes into your home ahead of time, your cat can familiarise itself with them.
  • Introduce the cat carrier – Leave the cat carrier in a place where your cat can get acquainted with it ahead of time. This way, they won’t be freaked out when it appears on moving day.
  • Make sure your cat is microchipped – Before the move, check that the details on your cat’s microchip are up-to-date.
  • Use a pheromone spray – Available from vets, pheromone sprays for cats can help them to feel calmer. We recommend spraying the cat carrier an hour before cat rehoming.
  • Leave one room until last – It will help your cat if you leave the packing of one room until last. Choose a room that can be locked, and make sure the windows are shut. Place food, water, litter, bedding, and a box/carrier for your cat in this room. Once you’ve packed up the rest of the house, you can move the cat last.
  • Try to stick to routine feeding times – On moving day, try to feed your cat breakfast at the same time as usual. Then, when you arrive at the new place, give them dinner at the usual time, so they still have a sense of stability.

Settling them in to your new home

The big day has finally arrived, and it’s time to move your cat. These tips will ensure a smooth journey for your cat and a safe transition into their new home:

  • Use a sturdy cat carrier – The carrier should have a firm base and plenty of air vents. You can place a towel inside for your cat’s comfort, and drape a blanket over the outside for extra security.
  • Secure the carrier with a seat belt – Make sure the cat carrier will not move around the car. Do not place the carrier in the cargo section of a car or the moving van.
  • Keep the car cool – Hot cars are bad for cats. If it’s a warm day, make sure there is cool airflow inside the vehicle so your cat stays safe. Never leave your cat inside a locked car.
  • Once moved, keep the cat in one room – Find a room in the new house where your cat can be kept securely with food, water, litter, bedding and a place to hide.
  • Cat-proof your new home – Make sure there are no places in your new home where your cat can escape. If there is a cat door flap, secure it until your cat has settled in.

It is recommended to keep your cat indoors for 2 weeks after you move. Once you feel satisfied that your cat has settled and won’t want to run away, you can start to introduce them to the outside world. Keep an eye on them and make sure they have a place to hide if they feel threatened. It’s particularly important to be on the lookout for neighbourhood cats who might feel that their territory has been invaded.

What do you do if your cat returns to your old home?

This is a common cat rehoming problem, and it’s more likely to happen if you’ve only moved a short distance away. If you’re worried that your cat might try to go back to your old home, you should:

  • Make sure that the details on their collar and microchip are up-to-date
  • Inform the residents at your previous home that your cat might turn up
  • Keep your cat indoors at your new home for at least 2 weeks
  • Build an enclosure for your backyard, so your cat can’t escape

  • If you follow these guidelines, moving home with a cat shouldn’t be traumatic. As a final note: remember to pack your cat’s favourite treats so you can reward and reassure them after the move