There are a lot of resources out there about how to introduce a new cat to your home, but there’s not a lot of information about how to transition your family cat to a new home that you all move into together. Last month, my two kitties and I moved into a new home, and I’m happy to say that the transition was simple and relatively painless. I was very intentional about how and when I moved my cats, and it helped tremendously. Here are the 7 steps I took to ensure an easy move for my little ones.
#1 – Plug in a pheromone diffuser
You know how your cat rubs the side of her face on you when she’s relaxed? She has glands in her cheeks that produce special pheromones when she’s happy. When she rubs on you like that she’s tagging you as someone who helps her feel safe and secure. A synthetic version of the feline facial pheromones exists in a few forms– a plug-in, a spray, and a collar. Using one (or all) of these products can help trick your cat into feeling safe in a situation that would normally make her feel anxious.
- Use a plug-in in each home. Since cats prefer predictable environments, it can make your cat feel anxious when you begin to pack everything up. They can also feel vulnerable when you bring them to your new place. Using a plug-in pheromone diffuser in each home can help ease a lot of fear.
- The spray is good for spot applications. I spritzed the spray into the cat carrier 15 minutes before I planned to scoot them into it. It seems to help a lot with travel-induced anxiety.
- One of my cats is a bit anxious by nature. She wears one of the pheromone collars full-time now and she’s noticeably calmer. I think it helped her settle into our new home more seamlessly.
#2 – Introduce scent beforehand
Cats learn so much about their environment through smell. Having familiar-smelling stuff in the new place before you bring them to it can help them understand that the new place is okay. Have stuff that smells like you (clothes, your bed, etc.) and also stuff that smells like your cat (cat tree, litter box, toys, etc.) in place before they arrive.
#3 – Protect them from the noises and chaos of moving day
For a cat, one of the worst parts of moving can be the chaos that happens when people come into your home to help move everything. All of the new sounds and smells can be very disorienting and frightening. Consider placing your cat in a small room, like the bathroom, where there will be no foot traffic. Make sure all of her essentials are there– food, water, a bed, and a clean litter box. It would be wise to transfer the pheromone diffuser to the small room while she’s in there. In your new place, keep them in a similar small room until all the bustle is over.
#4 – Give lots of treats and love
Moving Day is stressful and exhausting for everyone, including you, but don’t forget to shower your cat with love and treats to show her that you’d never forget her and you appreciate her. The more little things you can do to make the day pleasurable for her, the better.
#5 – Create a “safe space” in your new home
Creating a safe space is an important way to help your cat feel like she doesn’t have to explore all of the unknown territory all at once. This space should be similar to the space you created in the bathroom or small room while you were moving, but the safe space doesn’t have to be so shut off. In fact, it should allow your cat to explore if and when she wants to. Consider creating this space in a bedroom where you can easily close the door 3/4 of the way. Make sure all of her basic needs are in the room (food, water, litter box, bed, scratching post, toys) so she doesn’t have to travel far to find them, and leave her alone while she takes in all of the sounds and smells of the new place.
#6 – Let them explore in their own time without forcing
Forcing her to leave her safe space before she’s ready can cause her to be unnecessarily fearful of your new home. Instead, leave the door to her safe space cracked so she can wander out when she’s ready. Many cats won’t explore a new home until nighttime when all of the humans are asleep.
#7 – Don’t recycle empty boxes right away
When you move into your new place, you’ll want to do everything you can to help your cat associate it with happiness and fun. Cats love cardboard boxes, so leaving a few of them around for your cat to play in for a couple days can go a long way in helping your cat decide that the new place isn’t so bad after all.