Before you move:
Cats should always be transported in a safe container. Leave the carrier around for a few days or even weeks before you move, so that the cat becomes used to the sight and smell of it.
- Early in the morning, put your cat in one room with all the doors and windows shut. This will keep him away from the upheaval of packing boxes and furniture moving. It will also save you hours of searching for you cat when it’s time to leave.
- Provide a litter tray, water and food (but don’t feed him just before traveling in case he is ill on the journey). Put a notice on the door to remind family members and the removers that the door should remain shut.
- When it’s time to go, put your cat in his carrier with a familiar blanket and transport your cat properly secured with a seat belt in the car. Don’t put him in the removal van or in the boot of your car.
- You may be facing a long journey so remember to offer your cat water and the use of a litter tray at some point, though he may not be interested.
- When you take a break remember to leave a window open but never leave a cat in a parked car on a hot day as the inside temperature can soar to dangerous heights very quickly.
On arrival at your new home:
- Leave the cat in the carrier until you have one room set up to accommodate him. This should contain water, food and a litter tray.
- When the room is ready (all doors and windows should be shut and fireplaces blocked) let him out of the carrier.
- Leave your cat with some familiar bedding and if it is a cold day, a hot water bottle wrapped in a blanket. This should make your cat more secure.
- Some cats walk into a new home, curl up in a favourite chair and never look back. Others take time to adjust to their new surroundings.
- Cats will rub their heads and bodies on furniture, walls, doors etc to lay down scent from glands, which are situated mostly on the head but also over the body. Rubbing their own scent around the house increases their feeling of security. You can help this process by rubbing a soft cotton cloth gently around the cat’s face to pick up its personal scent profile. Then dab this at cat height around the room(s) where he will initially be exploring. You can repeat this daily and widen the areas where you impose his scent, so before he ventures outside he should feel confident within his own home.
- Use food and a regular routine to help during the adjustment period. Small frequent meals will give you more contact initially and help to reassure your cat that all is well. He will relax because he will know what is going to happen and when.
- An indoor cat may find settling into a new home more difficult than one which spends time outside, because he will be less used to environmental changes. Such a cat should be introduced to his new home slowly – one room at a time and with plenty of reassurance.
Exploring the neighbourhood:
- Keep your cat inside for the first two or three weeks to give him time to learn the geography of his new home and to become accustomed to the smells.
- When you decide the time is right to let him out, withhold food for about 12 hours so he is hungry. If he already associates a particular sound (tapping a bowl or rattling a bag of biscuits) with food so much the better.
- Choose a quiet time to let him out in the garden, firstly ensuring that there are no other cats about. Go out with him and let him explore for a little while before calling him in for food. Repeat this exercise several times, allowing him to go a little further and for a while longer each time.
- If your cat is spending time outdoors he should be micro chipped or have some form of identifications. If your cat is micro chipped don’t forget to change all you old details to the new details.
Preventing your cat from returning to his old home:
- If you are moving just a couple of kilometres you may find that your cat regularly returns to his old home. This is simply because he has not bonded sufficiently well with his new home and has picked up familiar routes during exploration of his new territory. Spread the cat’s scent around your new home, as described above.
- Keep your cat inside for a month and then as mentioned earlier let him out for a short period just before you feed him and accompany him on his walk around the garden. In this way he will begin to recognize the new house as a source of food and shelter, both of which are being denied at the old house.
- This period of readjustment may take weeks and, in some cases, it can be months before he can be allowed outside unattended. If all else fails and your cat refuses to accept his new home, you may be able to persuade the residents of your old house or one of the neighbours to adopt him permanently.
WITH PATIENCE AND A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK YOU AND YOUR CAT WILL SOON FEEL LIKE YOU’VE NEVER LIVED ANYWHERE ELSE!