Help your cat to cope with the stress of a house move
While no one likes to think about the stress of packing up your house, moving home is an exciting time for most people. A new place to lay down one’s roots, a new community and new challenges. However, moving house is not always the easiest for our pets. While there may be new sights and smells, as well as different roads to roam, there are also the stresses of a new environment, both indoors and outdoors, as well as the potential threat of other neighbourhood animals. This is particularly important for cats who are likely to be out and about on their own, exploring their new territory.
Andrew Bucher, co-founder and Chief Veterinary Officer at MedicAnimal says:
“While our attention may be on the packing, the admin and the finances, it is important to think of your cat. It can be a stressful time for them too and it’s important to take into consideration their fears and what you can do to help them settle in, just as much as you and the family.”
If you’re in the process or planning a move, here are some things to consider both before and after the move.
1) Planning: Cats will be aware of changes happening around the house. Former hiding places may not be as calming as they once were or favourite chairs may have been moved. It’s important to keep your cat de-stressed. Set aside a separate room during the move with plenty of toys, food and water. They’ll also expect lots of attention, so make sure you continue to play and interact as much as you can. It also means they’re unlikely to escape. The last thing one needs to be doing on the day is searching for kitty!
2) Moving: It may sound obvious, but remember not to pack away your cat in the removal van or the boot of your car. Your cat should come with you in the family car and if it’s a long journey, make sure to take stops and bring water.
3) Alternative: If your cat is particularly nervous, has recently been unwell or is a bit older, then perhaps look into booking them into a cattery for a couple of days. It will allow you to get on with the work of packing and then unpacking, while your cat can have time away from the uncertainties around moving day. However, make sure it’s a cattery you know and trust.
4) Arrival: We understand there will be priorities and that the process of unpacking can take weeks, however, it will be important to get your cat/s settled too. As we recommended doing before the move, set aside a room with familiar toys, as well as food and drink. One thing to consider is products such as catnip or sprays with artificial pheromones that will help calm your cat/s.
5) Settling in: It’s all very dependent on your cat’s character, however, you should try and approach this as steadily as possible. Preferably, try to keep your cat indoors for up to two weeks and then introduce her to the garden to take in the new sights and sounds. If you’re concerned she may escape, then try a lead or harness.
6) Safety: We can all get a bit lost when exploring a new neighbourhood, so make sure you invest in a new collar with your new address. You should also visit your vet and get your cat microchipped. If they’re already microchipped, remember to inform the vet about your new details. If you’ve moved locally, it is worth letting the occupants of your old house know about your cat. Cats tend to follow similar trails and may well head back to your old house.
7) Instincts: We all love watching our cats, particularly as their natural instincts take shape. If you’re downsizing or moving to a house with a smaller garden or no garden at all, why not introduce new things for them to explore such as boxes, toys and dry food to hunt.
8) Playtime: No matter where you are, cats need love and attention, so make sure you set aside time to play.