How To Prepare Your Cat to Move into a New House

Contributor: Maren Boyer Charlton- Agriculture Communications Student at Utah State University and Vice President of National Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow.

Please note that I have received compensation in exchange for this blog post.

We all know that change is inevitable. Moving is a natural part of our lives, yet it is not for our feline friends. It is common knowledge that most of our cats are not the biggest fans of change, no matter how big or small. That is why it is up to us to ensure that when we impose these changes on our cats, we minimize their stress as much as possible.

How to Prepare Your Cat Before Moving

It is essential to start preparing your cat early instead of the day before your move. As you pack, leave one room with familiar furniture for your cat to have a safe place to hide when the house becomes full of boxes. Leave your cat carrier out and slowly begin to familiarize your cat with it and feed them inside of it, creating a positive correlation with the carrier. If you are traveling long distances in the car to your new location, take your cat out on frequent trips in their carrier so it can become familiar and less stressful when move-in day comes.

Before the Move – Cat Checklist:

  • Leave familiar furniture in at least one room during the packing process
  • Familiarize your cat with the cat carrier
  • If moving by car, get your cat used to cat travel beforehand

How to Help Your Cat Adjust to a New Home After Moving

As soon as you reach your new home, pick a room and designate that as the temporary cat room. Begin by setting up that same familiar furniture that was in the previous room. Set out cat food, water, and a litter box so your cat can be comfortable. Provide plenty of hiding places for your cat; since this is a new environment, your cat will want to hunker down and stay hidden. Do not be alarmed if your cat does not eat or drink in those first few days at your new home. If your cat struggles with anxiety and continues not to eat after 2-3 days, contact your vet for suggestions on how to best tailor your approach to help your cat.

It is important that you take your time adjusting your cat to their new home. Please do not rush to let the cat out of their room or outside. It may take several days for your cat to become ready to explore different parts of your new home. Ensure that before you feel your cat is ready to explore the new house, you have fully cat-proofed the home and double-checked that there are no escape routes out of the house. It can also be very helpful to deep clean your new home to ensure no residual pet dander/hair is in the house; cats can smell even the slightest hint of leftover pet odor from the previous tenant.

When releasing your cat from their room, ensure it is a calm environment with only the family living there present. It is common to let your cat explore a few rooms at a time before returning them back to their original room. It can be a gradual process for your cat to become familiar with their new home.

Give your cat 3-6 weeks before letting them explore outside. If not bonded to their new home, cats will often return to their old home. It is important to ensure that your cat is microchipped and has a break-away collar with your information on it to increase your chance of finding your cat if they run away.  

The key to the whole moving process is just taking your time with your cat. Let your cat come to you, never try to entice them out of their hiding place or force affection. Following these steps can ensure that your cat can have a smooth transition into your new home.

After the Move – Cat Checklist:

  • Deep-clean the home
  • Designate a temporary “cat room”
  • Cat-proof the home before allowing exploration
  • Keep the environment calm during the cat’s first exploration of your new home
  • Contact the vet if your cat has not eaten 2-3 days after moving
  • Make sure your cat is microchipped and allow 3-6 weeks before letting the cat explore outside
  • Remain patient with your cat while they adjust to their new home