Your cat will need a little help when being introduced to a new home.
Cats are extremely territorial animals and are very resistant to change. Because of this, moving to a new home can be a scary and stressful endeavor for your feline friend. There are ways you can ease the transition, however, and make life in your new home easier and more comfortable for both you and your cat.
1. Before you move, give your cat time to get used to things. Make sure bags and boxes are set out for at least a week before you start packing so it will not be as stressful an experience for your cat. If boxes have anything packed in them, make sure they are completely closed; the last thing you want is for your cat to climb inside one right before it gets sealed shut. Besides bags and boxes, get your cat more comfortable in their carrier. Start placing treats and food inside of it so your cat will feel safe and want to be inside of it. This is especially useful for long moves: a stressed cat loose in the car is not a pleasant travel companion.
2. The day before moving, spend plenty of time with your cat. Trim their nails, give them plenty of treats, praise, and play time, and do whatever you can to make them feel loved and happy. You are most likely stressed, too, and cats can definitely sense and reflect that mood. The day of the move, give your cat a very small meal (you don’t want a full stomach if your cat is not used to car travel) before getting them into their carrier. If your cat is especially anxious, there are plenty of all natural anxiety medications that are safe for cats. Do some research and ask your vet for a good option.
3. Once in the new house, make sure it is cat-proofed. If your cat is stressed, they may revert to some bad habits for a few weeks, so you need to make sure they will be safe. Electrical cords should be tucked away, and any small, tight spaces (especially vent openings!) need to be blocked or covered. Make sure any small, dangerous objects that may have been left behind are picked up, and keep an eye out for bug traps that may contain poisonous chemicals. Finally, test your window screens by lightly pushing on them. If you plan to leave windows open, a loose screen can mean your kitty having an unplanned outdoor adventure.
4. To help your cat adjust, set up a safe room for them and keep them in it until they seem well adjusted. It should be warm, quiet, and have everything your cat needs in it: their carrier, litter, food, water, toys, bed, and a scratching post. Shut the door and let them adjust to the sounds, sights, and smells of their new home. Make sure you don’t just leave them completely alone, either. Spend time with them, both playing and just doing regular things like watching TV, working on a laptop, or reading. If your cat sees you comfortably spending time in the new space, it will hopefully give them the impression that the new house is safe.
5. As your new home gets put together and items begin to get unpacked, slowly introduce your cat to the space. Let them out for supervised sessions to explore, but try not to overwhelm them and return them to their safe room when you are finished. After a few weeks, once you have given your cat free reign of their new home, you may want to move their litter box and food to a different, more out of the way location. Gradually move it towards the permanent spot, a few feet each day, so your cat will not lose track of where their things are. Set up any cat trees, beds, or scratching posts in areas you think your cat will be most comfortable. They should gradually accept the new home as a safe, happy location.
The number one thing to remember is not to rush things. Some cats can take months to adjust to a new home. When moving, it is always a good idea to have a pet stain/smell remover like Bio-nihilator on hand - a stressed, upset, or confused cat may have a few accidents or get sick a few times before they adjust. Be prepared for anything, and, in no time, your new home will feel like, well, home.