Let's face it, most cats are unhappy travelers. They love their home and daily routines and may resent any attempt to force them to change venues. And who can blame them? After all, most cats don't ever go anywhere except for a few times each year when they visit the vet's office, and that's not always a fun adventure. So it's no surprise your feline family member may be less excited about moving to a new home than you are. To help ease the transition for your cat (and you), here are nine tips for getting kitty from point A to point B in a calm, collected manner.
1. Get Your Cat Familiar With the Travel Carrier
If your cat isn't used to a travel carrier, set one out several weeks before your planned move. Let Kitty get used to its presence and make it a welcome retreat by filling it with cushy towels, cat toys, and a few treats. You might even want to put your cat's food bowl inside it. The goal is to get your cat to think of the carrier as his personal getaway, not a scary jail. Do not lock the cat in the carrier; let your pet come and go as he pleases.
2. Find Ways to Keep Your Cat Calm Throughout the Moving Process
Zazie Todd, PhD, a social psychologist and founder of the popular blog Companion Animal Psychology and author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, recommends using a cat-calming pheromone spray designed to reduce stress and anxiety. "There is evidence that pheromones do work," says Todd. She recommends Feliway Classic spray to make the hustle and bustle of packing and the travel itself less stressful.
3. Choose a Safe Room
Once moving starts, the last thing you want is for your cat to bolt out the door as the furniture and boxes are loaded up. Set up a temporary safe space for your cat in a bathroom or bedroom. Add a litter box, food and water bowls, and the cat carrier your pet is now used to. Keep the door closed with a note to warn movers there is a cat inside.
4. Update Your Cat's Identification
If your cat isn't microchipped and/or wearing a collar with ID tags, get that done before the move. Never assume your cat won't find some way to slip away when you least expect it. Keep a few recent photos of your cat handy, just in case you need to identify your pet if she gets away from you.
5. Moving Your Cat by Car
Avoid giving your kitty a big meal before taking a trip. A light breakfast to settle the stomach is all that's needed until you stop for the night. Use a seat belt to secure the cat carrier in case of sudden stops or turns. Most cats will be fine without a litter box for trips under 6 hours. If you are going to be in the car for longer periods, bring along a disposable litter box that you can use in the car or hotel.
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6. Staying in a Hotel With Your Cat
If you are traveling across the country, find pet-friendly hotels before you leave so you and your pet can rest easy together. Before you turn your cat loose in a hotel room, look for any places your cat could hide once you let her out of her carrier (think open heat vents or open box springs).
7. Traveling With Multiple Cats
The same methods described for a single pet also work for multiple cats. If your cats are good friends, they can travel together in a larger carrier where they can comfort each other. If they like their personal space, separate carriers will be required.
8. Be Patient With Your Traveling Cat
Even the most loving, calm kitty may become vocal when you first hit the road. Most cats will calm down once they get used to the ride and may possibly just go to sleep. Stay calm and wait it out. As a cat owner, you already know this: telling your cat to stop doing something will not work.
9. Introduce Your Cat to a New Home
When you arrive at your new home, place your cat in an enclosed room where she will be safe and secured while furniture and boxes are moved in. Never turn your cat loose in a big empty house. Start in a small room and gradually, over the course of a week or so, give your pet more freedom to explore until she feels comfortable roaming the whole house.