Love them or loathe them, cats are sensitive creatures. They are fiercely independent and territorial about where they live, relying primarily on scent to feel safe and at home.
For these reasons, moving can be very stressful for a pet cat. It’s important to take caution to ensure a cat feels relaxed and settled as quickly as possible.
In this article, we’ll explain how to make a cat feel comfortable in a new home and how to settle a cat after moving house.
How to Make a Cat Feel Comfortable in a New Home in 8 Ways
Settling a cat takes time and patience.
While our feline friends are known to be much more independent than dogs, they also get scared easily when moved out of their comfort zone.
Here’s how to settle a cat after moving house.
1. Set up one room for the first day
Leaving a cat to roam about the entire house on its first day can be overwhelming for it.
It’s best to set up just one room for them with possessions they’re familiar with, so they can get used to it slowly.
It’ll also reduce the chances of kitties with a case of the zoomies from bolting straight out of the house.
Before bringing the cat into the house from the car, make sure the room is set up with:
- Blankets or bedding (ideally ones with their scent on it/they’ve used before)
- Water bowl
- Food bowl
- Litter tray
- Any other possessions of theirs, like a scratcher and toys
2. Keep the cat in the same room
Bring the cat carrier into the room you’ve set up straight from the car and close the door. Open it and let them venture out of the carrier in their own time.
Leave them alone in the room or stay with them. Try not to make any loud noises around the cat for a few hours to prevent scaring them, since they might be on edge. This can delay them settling in.
Keep the cat in the room for a few hours or a couple of days depending on how comfortable they seem. If they scratch at the door excessively, open it so they can explore with your supervision
Try not to let the cat explore the rest of the home unless it’s relatively quiet outside of the room. For example, there’s no drilling, unpacking boxes, renovation work, moving large appliances, etc. taking place.
3. Slowly move possessions around
The eventual goal is to make your cat comfortable in the entire house, not just one room.
After around a week, start expanding their territory to other places in the new home. Move the litter tray out to where you want it and show them where it is. Do the same with their food and drink.
You can even start to move toys or other things they’re fond of to other spaces. Eventually, cats will find comfort in the entire new home.
4. Let the cat explore in their own time
Cats are independent and curious animals. As all cat owners know, they like to do things in their own way and on their own time.
It’s best to let them explore the new home in their own time. Once they feel safe and comfortable, they’ll naturally start exploring more.
If you think they need some encouragement to explore the rest of the house (i.e., it’s been several days or even weeks), try leaving treats around the home for them to sniff out.
5. Create safe snuggle spots
When a cat feels scared, they might hide. Keeping them in an empty room won’t give them anywhere to go when they feel unafraid.
Plus, if you don’t create comfort spots for them, they’ll inevitably make their own, which could be in less than ideal places.
Therefore, it’s best to give the cat safe places for them to huddle in when they feel afraid, like a cat bed or a blanket.
Feel free to leave out cardboard boxes from the move. Cats love to curl up in boxes because it makes them feel safe and protected.
6. Leave their toys around
When moving home, the property doesn’t normally feel like home until your possessions have been unpacked and you have all your stuff around you.
Cats feel the same in this respect, becoming a little uneasy unless their stuff is around.
When moving, make it a priority to unpack some of their things and leave them around the home. If you can, don’t wash them immediately before moving, because the scent of home is important to them.
7. Don’t let the cat outside (at first)
Outdoor cats might be keen to stretch their paws outside, but don’t let them outside immediately after moving to a new home. This can confuse them or, worse, result in them going missing.
Because they won’t know the scent of the new home, they also may not be able to find their way back after leaving the house.
8. Don’t make any loud noises
While it’s normal to unpack on your first day in a new home, try to avoid making any sudden or loud noises around the cat in their first week.
As all pet owners know, the hearing of cats and dogs is much more sensitive than a human’s.
Should renovation work be essential, lay a towel on either side of the door of the room your cat’s in to add extra soundproofing. You might even want to keep them with a friend or family member until renovation work is complete.
Signs a Cat is Stressed After Moving House
Slight changes to the daily habits of your cat are normal when moving house. Like us humans, kitties build new routines upon changing location.
However, there is a difference between a cat settling in and feeling stressed. A cat settling in normally may be more anxious to noises than normal and a little cautious.
If they display symptoms of stress, these should only last a few hours or days – not several weeks.
Common signs a cat is stressed after moving include:
- Unusually aggressive behavior
- Spraying around the house
- Very infrequent toilet breaks (constipation)
- Blood in stools
- Toileting outside of the litter tray
- More lethargic than normal
- Panting and/or drooling
- Excessive meowing
- Excessive scratching of self
- Scratching at furniture
- Excessive grooming
- Runny eyes and/or runny nose
- Lack of appetite
If you’re concerned about your cat’s behavior, or if the symptoms of stress aren’t going away, contact a vet.
Cats like routine. Sure, that routine amounts to a lot of napping, but, just like humans, disruptions can take time to adjust to.
While there’s a lot to take care of when moving home, never forget the needs of your pets.
Always do your best to make cats feel comfortable in a new home, so that they can settle in faster and get back to doing what they do best—whether that’s lounging around or harassing birds in the garden.