Why is moving so stressful to cats?
Cats are territorial animals that thrive on predictability. They rub their scent glands (this is called bunting) on furniture and people as a way of showing affection and marking territory. When you move a cat into a completely different locale, there are no comforting scent markers.
Moving with cats is easy with advanced planning
1. Begin cat carrier training
If you’re used to seeing all four paws stretched out in a desperate attempt to avoid entering the carrier, you have some work to do. Your cat should think of the carrier as a relaxing, secret place where it can be safe. It may take a while to turn your carrier-phobic pet into a docile feline, but the payoff is worth it.
International Cat Care’s training guide and instructional video help explain cat carrier training. If your pet is comfortable inside its carrier, moving long distances with cats will be much easier. Label the carrier with your name and contact information, and keep vaccination records close by.
2. Schedule a veterinarian visit
Your vet should perform a complete health exam and check that your cat is up to date on its vaccinations. If your pet is on medication, make sure you have enough to last through the move. This is also the time to ask your vet about possible anti-anxiety medications or feline pheromones to help in managing cat stress when moving.
If you’re flying with your cat, you’ll need an Airline Veterinary Certificate signed by your vet. The International Air Transport Association has a help page that explains country regulations, offers tips on dealing with airlines, and answers frequently asked questions. It’s suggested that you also contact your airline carrier directly to avoid unwelcome surprises.
3. Make sure your cat is wearing an ID tag with your contact information
This important safety measure can save you the heartache of permanently losing a family pet. Moving with cats creates an opportunity for your animal to stray outside its familiar boundaries. The Humane Society recommends the use of identification tags as the first line of defense against a lost animal and microchips as a backup extra-level option.
4. Reduce the chaos around your cat
As much as possible, keep your cat away from stress-filled situations. Most likely you’ll be very busy performing last-minute chores, packing boxes, and sorting through years of accumulated belongings. It’s best if your cat doesn’t see you acting erratically as it can sense stress. Create a sanctuary that contains toys, litter box, scratching posts, bedding, food, etc. Let this room be a quiet retreat from the active household. Who knows, you might enjoy some time in there as well!
Once moving day arrives…..
1. Keep your cat sheltered
You do not want to be searching for a lost cat amid the commotion of moving day. During the loading and unloading process, it’s best if your pet stays inside its special room. Place a note on the door that no one is to enter. Warning, attack kitty!
2. Organize your pet’s baggage
It’s much easier if all your cat’s belongings are kept in the same tote. Keep food, bowls, toys, and anything you might need on your journey easily accessible.
3. Stay at a pet-friendly hotel
Long-distance drives require plenty of stops; it’s important for you and your cat to relax at night. Cross-country moves to San Diego may require several overnight stays. TripAdvisor has listings of hotels that allow pets, along with forums where pet owners can make comments and suggestions.
4. Pack up your cat
Your pet and its bag should be the last items to be collected and the first to be unloaded in your new location. If necessary, spray the interior of the crate with cat-calming pheromones and administer anti-anxiety medication. Do not open the carrier during your journey unless you’re in a contained room. It’s all too easy for a panic-stricken cat to slip through an open door and be lost forever.
It’s time to relax and settle in
1. Create another sanctuary in the new home
Place your pet’s items inside, and leave the carrier with the door open. Eventually, it will wander out to explore this new space. It is important to only provide this small area at first so as not to overwhelm your cat.
2. Scent mark the new house
Take a small glove and rub it on your cat’s face. Go throughout your new home and rub it against furniture and walls at your cat’s height. This will make new areas smell familiar.
3. Perform a safety check
Look for any insecticides or poisonous plants left by previous owners. Check that door latches and screens are secure, and tie up dangling window cords. If your cat goes outside, find out about predators, neighborhood animals, and traffic dangers in the area.
4. Watch your cat for any signs of stress-induced depression
Bathroom habit changes, aggression, and fleeing are signals your cat may need a little more adjustment. Spend time just being with your pet. If your new home permits, create a window perch and leave the blinds open.
With advance preparation, moving with cats can be a smooth process. When you’re relaxing in your new home with your cherished friend purring on your lap, you’ll be glad you made the effort.