How to Help Cats Adjust After a Stressful Move

Cat sitting in a box
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When it comes to settling your cat or dog into their new home after a move, remember to be conscious of their concerns. While moving is very stressful for the two-legged members of your family, companion animals can find it even more difficult to move and adjust to new surroundings.

Introduce Your Cat to Its New Home Gradually

Cats are very attached to their surroundings so change is always unsettling. If you've ever moved with cats and introduced them to a new household, you'll know that the best thing to do is introduce kitties to one or two rooms at a time. This will give them the opportunity to feel safe within a confined space. Place the litter box, bed, scratching post, food, and water in the room with your cat. This gives them the chance to become accustomed to the new sounds and smells. It also gives them a room of their own to use later as a refuge or if they feel uncertain.

Try to unpack most of the house before you let the kitties wander the rest of the house. This tactic depends on your cat as some cats are not upset by moving as long as you're there with them. Let them explore on their own and in their own time. If they decide to hide under the bed, let them be. They'll eventually come out when they feel it's safe.

Surround Them With Things That Smell Familiar

Put their favorite bed, blanket, toys, or any item that is familiar to them in the room. Placing items that smell like you in the room can help, too. For example, you might add an old sweater or running t-shirt—something that smells like you and smells like home. Since cats have a highly sensitive nose and use it to figure out if something is safe or not, this will provide them with comfort during times of stress.

Pheromone Products and Natural Remedies

Many people swear by products like Feliway, a synthetic version of the facial pheromone produced by a cat to mark its territory as safe. You can also use it in the cat's carrier prior to a move which can calm them during transit to the new house. Similarly, natural remedies such as Bach's Rescue Remedy may help calm your cat, particularly for the first few hours in a new home. Speak with your vet about natural solutions before you try herbs or natural tinctures.

Make Sure the Space Is Safe and Cat-Friendly

Keep doors and windows closed and make sure there aren't any crawl spaces or holes where they can escape to that you can't access.

If your cats go outside, make sure there aren't any poisonous plants in the backyard. You can get a full list of plants that are harmful to kitties from the ASPCA list. Also, make sure you keep him or her indoors for at least two weeks so that your home is familiar to them. After two weeks, take your cat outside with you and let it explore a bit. After ten minutes or so, take him or her back inside. Each day increase the time until the kitty feels safe and knows the area. Also, make sure that your cat is properly tagged with your new address and phone number.

No matter what kind of companion animal you have, adjusting to a new home is tough. Knowing your animal and their personality—confident, social, or shy—will help you determine what their individual needs are.