Outdoor Safety - Sadly, some indoor/outdoor cats respond to change by disappearing. Unless you have an enclosure or a yard your kitty can’t escape from, bring them inside one-two weeks before you start packing. Your cat needs to become an indoor living kitty, never going outside (at least until completely settled into the new home!). If they’re unhappy about the living arrangements, help them adjust through enrichment and activities that your cat loves.
Get Them Familiar with their Carrier – This goes for Vets visits too, make their carrier something they’re familiar with and that it smells like them. If your cat isn't used to a travel carrier, set one out several weeks before your planned move.
Let you can 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 their personal getaway, not a scary jail. Do not lock the cat in the carrier; let your pet come and go as they please.
Packing – This is an aspect of moving that your cat might start to get unsettled. Cats love routine. Anything that is a change, especially a drastic one like packing up your home, can result in anxiety, stress or problem behaviours.
Reduce the anxiety and make packing fun by placing empty packing boxes around your home the week before you pack them. These boxes have two jobs — moving and entertainment. Play with your little one around them. Treasure hunts are usually greatly appreciated as well. Hide favourite treats in the empty containers for them to find.
When it’s time to pack, let your kitty help, by encouraging them to climb, explore and play in the boxes. After they are filled and sealed, safely stack them in a configuration they can climb and perch on.
IMPORTANTLY! Make sure when you’re packing that your fuzzy little goblin doesn’t get stuck in a box. Cats are great hiders and even better at getting into tight spots. Before you seal any boxes, check them for stowaways!
Moving Day Safety 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.
Microchip Info – 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.
Once moved, make sure you register with a vet and update their microchip info as soon as you can.
Travelling in the 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.
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.
Sanctuary at New Home - Before bringing the cat to their new home, prepare a sanctuary room for them. This will become their refuge — the place where your cat will retreat whenever they feel scared. Set the room up with their familiar items — favourite scratching posts, food dishes, litter boxes, cat trees, beds, and toys. Place towels and clothes that have your scent on them into boxes and tunnels and position them strategically around the room.
Only after the room is set up, place the carrier on the floor and open it. Don’t insist they vacate the carrier — it has become your cats safety zone during transport. When they feel secure, they’ll venture out and explore. Whomever your cat is attached to should stay in the room and reassure them. Keep the door to their sanctuary closed until they’ve adjusted. It usually takes a few days or longer until they is ready to explore outside their safe room. It needs to be on their schedule — open the door, they will venture into the rest of your home when they feel safe.
Adjustment Period & New Territory - It will take time for your cat to get comfortable in their new environment and patience on your part. Initially, it is best for them to stay in the new home for around three weeks to get used to it before venturing outside. During this time keep the windows and doors shut so they don’t escape and prepare for one or two little accidents that may occur on the floor. Patience may be needed in conjunction with kitty litter trays in the beginning, but they will adapt quickly and improve with time.
Once the three weeks have passed then it is time to start exploring the outdoors with them. It will help to do this at feeding time so they will be hungry and more likely to stick near you. You can also pre-warn other cats in the area by distributing some of the used kitty litter around the garden so they will be aware of a new arrival in their midst. Also, consider the use of microchips to monitor where your cat is because despite best intentions cats can wander and this will ensure you know exactly where they are at all times.