JessBraz lives in Canada and has experienced moving her kitties to a new home.
How to Make a Cat Feel Comfortable in a New Home
Moving into a new house is a stressful event. Packing, moving furniture, unpacking and, of course, getting used to a new neighbourhood. If you have pets, you're not the only one who has to adjust to new surroundings. Moving into a new environment can be quite stressful for your cats.
Cats who spend all of their time indoors can become especially anxious when being forced to move to a new environment. If your cat is allowed to venture outdoors, it can be quite worrisome for you that your cat might get lost when exploring their new neighbourhood. Here, we'll take a look at some things pet parents can do to make the transition to a new home as stress-free as possible for their kitties, for both indoor and outdoor cats.
Getting Your Cat to Their New Home
If your cat has never been in a car before, it can be quite a scary experience. The most important thing is that you never let your cat loose in the car. It will only add to their fear and create a stressful situation for you.
Prescriptions for Longer Journies
If your new home is far away from your old one and your cat will be in a carrier for an extended period of time, talk to your veterinarian and see if they can prescribe something to help the cat sleep or calm them down for the long car ride. No one knows your cat better than you, so if they have a particularly anxious personality, this might be beneficial. Never give your cat over-the-counter medication meant for humans. If you are especially concerned about how your cat will handle a long car ride, then talk to your veterinarian.
Keep Things Quiet
Keep the car quiet (now is not the time to rock out to Metallica) and talk to your cat in a low, calm voice until they begin to settle. My cat has a much easier time being in a cat carrier if we place a blanket over the carrier so he can't see everything that's going on. Leave the front of the carrier uncovered so he gets plenty of air. Try placing the carrier so your cat can see you during the ride.
- If it's possible, try to leave your cat at your old place until most of the move has occurred. Taking a cat home to a place where most of your items have already been settled will lessen the commotion for them. They will also have an easier time recognizing the scent of home in your new place if you've already got some items unpacked.
- Be patient and expect accidents. Even if your cat is litter trained, expect that there will be accidents as they adjust to where their litter box is in their new home. If they have an accident, clean it up with a paper towel and place it in their litter box so they recognize their scent and learn where their new bathroom is.
Your Cat's First Day "Home"
When you bring your cat to their new home for the first time, whether they're strictly an indoor cat or you plan to let them outside in their new neighbourhood eventually there are several things you can do to help them adjust to their new surroundings.
How to Help Your Cat Settle in
- Give Them Some Privacy: When you first get home, set your cat up in the quietest room in your new house. Keep the door closed and make them as comfortable in there as possible. Leave their litter box, food dishes, bed, toys and anything else you think will help make them feel at home. Leave them in this room until all the moving has been done and you're no longer bringing boxes and furniture in and out of the house. You don't want your cat to slip outside unnoticed during the commotion of moving in.
- Use Butter or Cream Cheese: Try putting some butter on your cat's paws (cream cheese works great too) before you leave them alone in their quiet room. Placing some butter on their paws (make sure you get some between their toes, if you can) will kick start their instinct to clean themselves. Settling down and giving themselves a little bath will help them self soothe, particularly after the anxiety of the car ride to their new home.
- Pay Them a Visit: After everything has been moved in and you're no longer opening and closing the front door constantly, go in and pay your cat a visit. Talk to them and give them lots of cuddles and love so they know you're still there with them. Don't push your cat to explore the new house. After you pay them some attention, leave them in their quiet room, but leave the door open. The cat will come and begin to explore their new surroundings when they're ready.
- Stay on Schedule: Try and adhere to your cat's regular feeding schedule as much as possible. It's important to try and retain some sense of normalcy for your cat. Feeding them as soon as they get to their new home will help them understand that this is where they need to be to get food.
I.D Tags Are Important!
There are approximately 12 million pets that are lost and find their way into animal shelters each year. Sadly, only 2% of cats that don't have any form of identification on them end up finding their way home.
Read More From Pethelpful
It's also important to know that 41% of cats that are reported missing each year are described as "indoor" cats by their owners. Even cats that never go outside need to have at least an I.D collar on them so they can be brought back home if they slip outside when you're not looking.
If your cat is allowed outdoors, it is especially important to make sure you have an identification system in place so you can find them in the event that they don't come home. If you are especially concerned about your cat getting lost after moving to a new home, consider investing in a GPS tracking collar.
Source: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 07/09-12/09 Vol. 235
If your cat likes to venture outdoors, consider investing in a GPS tracking collar. If your cat has the tendency to disappear for hours or days at a time a good GPS collar or tracking system can help provide you with peace of mind and keep your beloved pet safe.
Letting Your Cat Outside
Relocating a cat who is used to exploring the outdoors can be especially stressful for cat owners. There is always the fear that your cat will try and find their way back to back to their old neighbourhood and get lost.
Ideally, you should try and keep your outdoor cat inside their new house as long as you can (at least a week) but if you have an especially vocal cat (like my cat Snowball) or one who refuses to use a litter box you might have to let him outside before you're completely comfortable with the idea. Putting in a little extra effort to show your cat around their new outdoor environment can make all the difference in keeping your cat safe.
How to Let Your Cat Outside (Safely)
- Put Some of Their Litter Outside: Before you take your cat outside for the first time, take a scoop of the litter out of their box (if you've managed to get them to use one during their time indoors) and sprinkle it around the backyard and garden. This will help them recognize their scent and know where they belong. It will also help to let other cats in the neighbourhood know that your backyard is now your cat's territory.
- Keep Them on a Leash (At First): When you bring them outside for the first time, keep them on a leash or cat harness and walk them around the yard and garden and let them get used to the smell of their new backyard. If you did sprinkle any kitty litter in the yard, make sure you take your cat to where you left the kitty litter. If it's warm enough outside you can leave them tied up in the yard while you spend some time outside with them.
- Encourage Them: Make sure to talk to them a lot and give them lots of pets to help calm their nerves. If after a few times on a leash they seem comfortable and eager to explore, then try letting them off their leash for a bit while you're outside with them. If they still seem anxious or scared while outside, continue to bring them outside on a leash until you feel they are comfortable enough to be let off their leash. This might only take a few days or a few weeks. It depends on the personality of your cat.
- Use the Butter Trick: The butter on the paws trick also works great when you take your cat outside for the first time. Place some butter on their paws and in between their toes before you take them outside. Walk them around in the garden. The butter will help dirt stick to their paws. When you take them inside, they'll start cleaning themselves. If they have some of the dirt from their new yard on their paws, when they clean themselves they'll ingest some of the dirt (which is harmless for cats) and this might help to solidify the new scents of home in them.
- Ensure That They Have Proper Identification: Before you let your cat explore outside on their own, please ensure they have the proper identification tags on their collar. If you have neighbours close by, consider paying a visit to introduce yourself to your new neighbours. Let them know that you have a cat who will be allowed outside, give them a description of what your cat looks like (or bring a photo) and let them know your cat's name. This will ensure that when your cat is ready to venture out of his backyard and roam the neighbourhood, your new neighbours won't think your cat is a stray and try and scare them off. (After all, not everyone is a cat person.)
- Be Aware of Local Wildlife: If you live further outside of the city, pay attention to what kind of wildlife is roaming around the area. If there are coyotes or foxes that frequent your new home, consider trying to transition your outdoor cat to a life indoors.
Thanks for Stopping By!
Have you ever had to relocate at cat to a new home? If you have any extra advice, tips or words of wisdom that I haven't covered, please feel free to share in the comments section below!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2014 Jess Brazeau
Geri on July 22, 2020:
I find it useful to walk slowly around the section boundary, holding my cat and talking to her, pointing out plants, bushes etc... and stopping frequently and looking back and pointing towards the new house, and talking about the new house..
There is the bedroom etc..
This is our new home..we are together..etc..
Sharon on May 11, 2020:
I bring my cat to my mothers house So she could have company the cat has not use the bathroom yet and it’s been less than 24 hours and my mother is worried is that a reason to be worried
TG on April 30, 2018:
I am moving in with my Gf which lives in an apartment. I have two out door cats that are not allowed into the apartment. How do I keep them from trying to find their old home?
Quan Duong from NY, Hanoi on April 08, 2015:
that's quite a story pgiblett!
Peter B. Giblett from Ontario, Canada on April 08, 2015:
We have had this 'joy'. We had the cats closed in a room, then our pregnant cat got out on moving day. We were worried sick over her, but had to continue packing and preparing to move. We had sadly given up when the neighbour came running across the field calling us, he knew about our cat and luckily she had gone to their place so we found her.
Having unpacked in the new house we had to return for a second trip to take the last remaining items. As we entered the new house on that trip she was giving birth on the living room floor. Clearly less concerned about the whole experience than us.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 08, 2015:
Relocating is tough for everybody, including pets! Good tips, especially those regarding keeping a cat safe and secure during the move and while in the new home. Voted up, useful and sharing on Twitter!
Nico from Ottawa, ON on April 08, 2015:
I have had to move cats to multiple homes. I even had to fly with one. I noticed that cats are very resilient and will eventually adapt to a new home.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on April 08, 2015:
Unfortunately some forget that kitty will be affected by the move. I am getting ready to move again and my kitty sees the items being moved out. He KNOWS. The good news is that we are going less than a mile away.
and my outside kitty is already at the new location so this transition is an easy one.
Congrats on HOTD Angels are on the way to you this morning ps
RTalloni on April 08, 2015:
Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for an exemplary post! These are great tips for cat owners. We've not had the experience but a friend endured a nightmare for herself and her cat in a long drive because of a move. I'm glad to have this resource to share with others.
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on April 08, 2015:
Good advice! Our cat was almost 19 when we had our house fire. She was an indoor cat who had no desire to be outside, so she had lived her entire life to that point in the same house. Fortunately, she was rescued before the house was consumed and, within the course of a couple of weeks was moved at least three times until we were settled into a rental house while our home was being rebuilt. She did amazingly well, due in part to the fact that, as part of her old age, she was deaf. I think that helped the transition tremendously. She surprised us by how well she adjusted since there were so many new things in her life. Cats are pretty resilient if they're treated well, the way they deserve to be treated. Congratulations on your Hub of the Day honors!
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 08, 2015:
Congrats on the HOTD. Yes, I had to relocate my indoor adult male two cats, twice in the past five years. Last fall was hopefully the last time. I wish I saw your hub back then, though I joined HP after I moved and not before. I wonder if these tricks would work for going to the vet, too. Voted up for usefulness!
Eileen from Western Cape , South Africa on April 08, 2015:
I don't have a cat nevertheless it was interesting reading all your tips especially the the butter on the paws - never heard of this ; will gladly forward this tip to cat lovers . Congrats on HOTD
Quan Duong from NY, Hanoi on April 08, 2015:
Haha, I just love your tip on putting butter or cream cheese on your cats' paws, that must be a lot of fun both to do and watch them clean up!
A very informative and interesting Hub indeed, congrats on Hub of The Day!
A great day to your family and Abby and Snowball (They are such cuties!) :)
Jess Brazeau (author) from Canada on March 12, 2014:
No problem! I hope you were able to find a solution. Bringing a new cat home is such a rewarding thing to do. I have two cats... both of them were found abandoned outdoors. I love them both so much. I hope your new furry friend brings you as much joy as my cats have to me. All the best.
Robin Reuben from Tanzania Dar-es-salaam on March 12, 2014:
thank you so much jessbraz.
Jess Brazeau (author) from Canada on March 12, 2014:
Thanks for stopping by and congrats on your new cat! I'm sorry to hear you're having difficulties litter box training him/her but keep at it! Cats are very picky when it comes to their litter boxes, so there are a few simple tricks you can try:
Try using a different kind of litter. Your new cat might not like the feel of the kind of litter you're using under her paws (try a variety to see if she has a preference) Wordscribe43 has a very extensive review of kitty litter options if you need help picking the right one. You can find it here:
Try moving the litter box to a different location. Cats like a lot of privacy when they're using the bathroom. If the litter box is in an area where there's not a lot of privacy, s/he might not be comfortable.
Make sure the litter box is spotless (as much as you can).. Cleaning it twice a day until s/he gets used to it. Cats don't like going into a dirty litter box.
Fellow HP user, Jimmyglaughlin has a great hub about litter box training a new cat. You can find it here if you need more information/tips:
Good luck with your new cat!
Robin Reuben from Tanzania Dar-es-salaam on March 11, 2014:
I just brought a new cat home.But am having problems training it where to poop!Any help?