Want to have a smooth moving experience and minimize your cat’s stress?

Before you load up the moving truck, you need a plan of action. One that includes your cat’s point of view.

Cats are all about territory so moving with cats is a huge deal. Disrupting their territory can cause stress-related behaviors including, litter box avoidance, excessive scratching, marking, and vocalization.

I’ve moved six times with multiple cats, including across the country by plane (thrice).

Cats dislike change.

But with extra care and focus on your cat’s needs, you can help them establish their new territory, feel confident, and adjust to their new home.

Here are 10 simple tips to quickly reduce cat stress and anxiety caused by moving.

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1. Acclimate Your Cat To A Carrier

The cat carrier is the easiest way to give your cat familiar territory, and it’s also the safest way to travel with your cat.

Set the carrier out at least one month before the move, so your cat gets used to being inside of it, and it absorbs their familiar scent. If you don’t have a full month before your move, just set it out as early as possible. Even the night before can prevent a game of hide and seek on the day of your move.

Add a comfortable blanket and label the outside with your contact information. About 15-20 minutes before transporting your cat, spritz the inside of the carrier with a calming pheromone spray.

cat carrier

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2. Give Your Cat A Cardboard Box

Research has shown that cardboard boxes reduce cat stress.

Get your moving supplies out at least one week in advance.

Set up a couple of empty boxes and let your cat play inside them. The boxes will soon be viewed by your cat as part of the environment instead of a source of stress and change.

Quick tip: If your cat is already exhibiting signs of stress and anxiety, spritz the boxes with pheromone spray throughout the day.

cat in cardboard box

3.Gradually Introduce Change

I like to pack a few boxes every day over the course of a month and stack them in a corner. That way my cats get used to the moving boxes and items disappearing from our home over time.

They rub against them, walk on them, and even take a nap. And, they experience less separation anxiety from our belongings.

The cat’s scent on the boxes helps them feel familiar when they discover them again in the new home.

moving supplies

4. Pack the Cat Stuff Last

Keep your cat toys, scratching post, cat cave, litter boxes, food, and any other items they use daily in the same place until moving day.

These simple things keep your cat grounded while the world spins around them.

Label one box to open immediately so you can quickly set up your cat’s safe space in your new home.

If you have extra cat items and you have access to your new home prior to moving day, consider bringing a few things over in advance. This will allow the old scent to co-mingle with the new scent before your cat arrives to his new home.

cat scratcher

5. Use Cat Calming Aids

Studies have shown that moving is more stressful than any other life event, including death and divorce.

Cats can sense our emotions, so it’s important to stay as calm as possible and make time for self-care.

You may also want to introduce off-the-shelf calming aids for your cat, such as pheromone diffusers near your packing boxes and pheromone sprays for the cat carrier and your car on moving day.

pheromone diffuser

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6. Clean Lingering Cat Urine Odor & Other Pet Smells

Cats have an acute sense of smell and the scent of other animals can trigger stressful behavior.

Before moving with cats into your new home, take time to clean it top to bottom.

If you detect even a slight scent of a prior animal, you’ll want to eliminate the pet odor with unscented soaps and enzyme cleaners.

cleaning spray bottles

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7. Set Up a Safe Room for Your Cat

I’ve had the most success moving with cats and keeping them calm by confining them to one room with the cat carrier, toys, water, and a litter box.

Then I gradually increase their exploration space over several days to avoid stress from overstimulation.

I also use a safe room on moving day.

I hang a DO NOT OPEN DOOR sign and inform helpers to steer clear, so there’s no chance of a kitty escape.

cat bed

8. Design a Cat-friendly Home

Make sure you have comfy places for your cat around your home, so they feel safe and confident–cat beds, cat pods, cat tree.

And play with them twice daily for a minimum of 10-15 minutes.

That way they get their scent on things, and they get worn out, so they are more likely to sleep.

cat friendly design

9. Stick to Your Cat’s Routine

Cats love consistency and quiet.

If you have room, confine them at night in a quiet room with closed blinds. Add comfy beds with a litter box, water, and toys, and get into a consistent routine (same time, every night) to help bring some normalcy back to their lives.  

Private space can also block any outside animals from peering in and aggravating your cat.

You might also try playing some calming music softly at night to help lull your cat to sleep.

happy cat

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10. Update Pet Identification Information

Gather your cat’s documents into a single folder, including contact information for your vet and the emergency vet.

Carry this information with you.

Also, update your contact information for your cat’s microchip, collar tags, and print out clear, up-to-date photos that show your cat from the front.

cat collar

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Helping a Cat Adjust to a New Home

It can take several days to a few weeks for your cat to feel comfortable in your new home.

Be patient and take care of yourself so you can take care of your cat.

If your cat is an outdoor cat, keep him inside for at least two weeks. Or, consider if this is a good time to transition your cat to an indoor cat.

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1 Comment

  1. avatar
    Katie at Meadowia says:

    Great advice! I’ll definitely use these tips to help my anxious kitty during our next move.

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