Tips when moving with your cat

Your cat’s sense of security rests on the stability of their environment and predictability of their daily routine at home. In fact, “your” home is really more his home! If he could speak, your cat would probably tell you that you are his tenant. Something as innocuous as moving a piece of furniture to a new spot can disturb and upset him. Just imagine what he will feel when he is uprooted and relocated to unfamiliar territory. Fortunately, all it takes is a bit of planning to reduce the impact of this upheaval on your pet’s emotional well-being.

First, before signing the lease or making an offer, look into city regulations regarding pets to prevent bad surprises. Certain municipalities have their own by-laws when it comes to pets, including the number of permits allowed per household as well as registration.

Moving soon

Get your cat used to a travel carrier

If he doesn’t already have a carrier, get him a good one. Carriers with a removable roof or with at least 2 openings (front and top) are the best choice. Place it in a area where your cat spends time and relax and leave it open for your cat to walk in and out as it pleases. You can spray calming pheromone in the cage. To make the carrier a more inviting space, you can put treats in it and bring his food closer. Repeat this every day until your cat enters the carrier willingly and rests there. We want the carrier to be a safe place so when you move it will is shelter.

Visiting the veterinarian

During this visit, a health examination may be carried out. If your animal takes medicine on a regular basis, you will want to have enough of it until the moving date and a little more. While at the vet, ask if vaccines are up to date. Some viruses can live for months in your new home, even after the previous animal has left. The same goes for certain parasites, such as fleas. The use of antiparasitic treatment is highly recommended, depending on the season and location of your new home. If you’re moving far away, ask your current veterinarian to recommend a vet in your new place of residence.

Put a collar on your cat

Have your cat wear a collar at all times to ensure your neighbours don’t mistake your pet for a stray. Cat collars are made with an elastic or a closure that pops open, should your cat ever become stuck. It’s a good idea to have your veterinarian implant your cat with a microchip and ensure your pet wears a pendant to let people know. If you prefer not to use a microchip, engrave a pendant with your new address before you move.

Minimize stress and anxiety

During the week leading up to the move there will be lots of excitement in the house. Packing, as well as visitors. These changes can cause serious stress to your companion. Your veterinarian can then suggest the use of natural products or specialty diets that help managing stress. Depending on the signs shown by your cat, your veterinarian can prescribe a temporary anxiolytic for your pet to help them calmly adjust to these changes and make it easier to adapt to their new surroundings. If the trip is long, and if your cat does not cope well with car rides, consider asking your vet for medication against travel sickness.

That’s it, it’s moving week!

Get a pet sitter

For a few days before and after the big day, both of you and your pet could benefit from having him stay at a boarding facility, preferably one that he already knows. If that is not an option, move your cat into a secure room of his own (with a window), away from the hurly-burly of packing. The room should contain all the cat’s familiar belongings: his carrier, blankie (unwashed), scratching post and food and water bowls can be placed at one end, and his litter box in the opposite corner. You can also plug in a calming pheromone diffuser. This will then become HIS room.

This becomes where he is protected from accidents and shielded from noise, the presence of strangers in his home, your own jitters, as well as all the disruption to his surroundings. Most importantly, this will prevent him from escaping from the home or hiding in a tight spot from which you will have difficulty extracting him.

It’s best if your cat is kept away from anything that makes it look like their world is falling apart!

Leave a photo of your cat behind

If you are moving within a radius of no more than 10 to 15 kilometres, leave a photo of your cat in your current home for the next occupants, together with instructions not to feed him, pet him or let him back into the home if he decides to return to his old hunting ground. Leave your phone number so the owners can let you know where your cat is.

Transporting your pet

It is important to plan the route with your companion. When all is ready and it’s time to leave, calmly load your cat into his carrier, then cover the carrier with a towel. Place the carrier in the car (if you are moving in summer, be sure to have the air-conditioning on to avoid heat stroke), and only then remove the cat’s possessions from HIS room.

Arriving in your new home

To help your cat settle in more quickly, start by setting up HIS room before you begin unpacking. You can plug in the calming pheromone diffuser in this new location.

Ideally, ensure all your pet’s furniture is already in place before they enter their new home. Place the carrier in HIS new room with a closed door, and let him emerge from the carrier and his room when he is ready. Place treats all around the house to encourage them to explore. Don’t interfere with your cat’s exploration. Instead, let them discover a whole new universe of smells that you are completely unaware of.

It’s a good idea to provide a separate litter box on each floor of your new home. Leave the boxes uncovered and position them in locations that suit your cat’s need for privacy.

Keeping your cat indoors

For the first three weeks, it is safer to keep your cat indoors while he takes possession of his new home and gets familiar to his surroundings. The closer you are to your former home, the longer you should keep him indoors, as he might try to return to his old address.

The first few times that you let him go outside, do so before feeding time, to make sure that hunger brings him back. Leave the door open so that he can retreat if he senses danger. If possible, go outside with him, but don’t interfere as he explores the area.


Keep your cat away from the hustle and bustle of your big move and try to ensure their environment stays calm and predictable throughout the process—even if it means temporarily limiting their space.

You can also take the opportunity to “catify” your new home by installing features like shelves on which he can lounge from a safe height and happily survey his domain. Most cats welcome such amenities!

If you see signs that your cat is having trouble adjusting (loss of appetite, soiling, distress vocalizing, etc.), contact your veterinary team right away.

Every year, moving season swells the numbers of missing and abandoned pets. If you have to part with your pet — or if you are thinking of adopting one —, your veterinary team can refer you to a shelter.

Have more questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact the Passionimo veterinary clinic near you.