Moving House / Travel Tips
Moving house is stressful enough, without the added worry of how your cat is going to respond to such a major upheaval.
At Penlan Cattery we have tried to collate concise, relevant points and advice on moving your cat(s) as smoothly as possible. We regularly look after cats whose owners are moving into or out of the area and we have gained valuable experience that we share herein.
For cats the mere sight of packing and upheaval can create anxiety. Cats dislike change and become loyal to their home, not just their owners, therefore it is wise to observe your cat’s behaviour for distress signals in the weeks prior to your move. We recommend that you do not disturb your cats feeding/sleeping area until the last moment.
If possible, get your cat settled into the Cattery a few days in advance of your actual move so that they do not see the final stages. This way, they remain safe in the Cattery - with their own bedding - secure and relaxed and will have the opportunity to establish their own routine with us before you come to collect them, and move them into their new home.
If your cat is staying with us while you move and settle in you are most welcome to come and visit them during their stay. This increases your cat’s confidence when they are finally introduced to their new home because they have maintained their connection with you. That said, familiar bedding and objects are the most important ingredient to a quickly settled cat and, having had those items at the Cattery, they will have retained your familiar scent and this will help your cat make the connection in the new house.
- Generally speaking, cats are less familiar with travelling in cars than dogs and may find a long journey traumatic. It may be prudent to take your cat on a few short car journeys before your long journey so that they have an opportunity to establish routine and confidence.
- It is important to have a good quality cat basket which allows your cat plenty of movement. We recommend a wired/mesh carrier so that your cat is secure but has good vision all around and, equally, you can keep an eye on them.
- Do not feed your cat for at least 5 hours before travelling in the car. Being travel sick is ultimately far more distressing for your cat than being slightly hungry. If you already know that your cat is prone to travel sickness your vet may prescribe an anti-sickness pill for the journey.
- We personally do not recommend the use of cat sedatives for your car journey: in our experience many cats remain drowsy/clumsy and suffer from sickness/diarrhoea long after the sedative has worn off. Cats are very acute and take their confidence from their owner, thus we believe patience and consideration during the journey will result in a far calmer cat than a drug-induced quick answer.
- Do NOT travel with the carrier in the foot-well or the boot. Your cat will find the vibration and lack of vision very claustrophobic and scary.
- Don’t be tempted to let your cat out of the carrier. Your cat will definitely not want to go back into the carrier and it will create further stress forcing them back in… and they will be more anxious for the remainder of the journey. It is also very dangerous to travel with your cat loose in the car. Perhaps have a large “holding” box (cardboard flat-packed) for very temporary use if you should need to clean them out.
Where possible we recommend that you unpack first before introducing your cat to their new home. Your cat will still recognise familiar objects in an unfamiliar house and this will encourage them to accept their new surroundings. Also your cat will need reassurance from you that your new home is their new home too… and you will not have time for the extra attention if you are trying to find the kettle!
Depending on your habits as a pet owner you may wish to establish your “no-go” areas from the start therefore it is important that your cat is given a prepared area for sleeping on arrival. You can establish feeding areas very quickly but cats are very independent and will need to know they have a place of their own with their familiar toys/comfort blanket etc.
DO NOT LET YOUR CAT OUT for at least two weeks. This is a difficult time if your cat is fond of the garden – and you do not want the cat tray indoors - but they will have hopefully (re-)grasped the use of a cat tray whilst at the Cattery and it is essential that your cat accepts the house as the core of it’s territory before it can be allowed to explore further outdoors. When you do let your cat out the first few times, it is better to do it just before a normal mealtime. That way, they are soon hungry and more likely to come back – presuming they’ve been brave enough to go further than the door mat! Do not wash their bedding until a couple of weeks after they have been going out so that your cat returns to a familiar smell.