ATTENTION * CONTENT UNDER REVISION* ATTENTION
This article is currently being reviewed with regards to the vocabulary used. However, the tips suggested can be applied without worry. Only a few very specific notions must be reviewed throughout the site, like territory (we now refer to it as environment), marking, pheromones and other specific concepts that have recently been the object of studies.
Moving is undoubtedly exhausting for most of us. But for our feline fellows, it is so much more than that. For many of them, it is a tough time in their life. Cats greatly value their routine and the stability of their territory. When faced with moving, they have a lot to cope with, of which creating a new routine and dealing with new habits in their new territory are but two examples.
The importance of isolating the animal
There are ways to help your cat face this transition period better. On moving day, keep him isolated in a room (in the old house as well as the new home). The bathroom is an ideal place, for movers carrying your furniture and boxes will get in this room less often. Make sure to put the litter box in a corner and food and water bowls in the opposite corner (or on the counter, if your cat can climb on it). Distance between the litter box and the bowls is very important, because the animal will not eat or drink if his litter box is too close to the food. Make sure the moment is pleasant by offering him what he likes best: it may be tuna, bits of cooked chicken, of ham, or his favorite treats! These simple gestures will help your cat create a positive association with his new territory. The addition of new toys or games can also help reduce his stress level both during and after the move, because he will associate the new environment with something pleasant. When the commotion is over, that is, when all the movers and helpers are gone and most of the furniture is definitely placed, you can free your cat from the isolation room, if he is calm. If he stays in a corner, if he crawls on the floor or if he does not eat, that means that he is not ready to explore the rest of his new home. Wait until he shows a quieter behavior. He will then explore his environment one room at the time, one story at the time, at his own pace. Some cats will take several days, even weeks, before feeling comfortable in a new territory, whereas more driven and curious ones will be delighted to head out and discover this novelty. Most of you know your cat well enough to predict whether or not he will be able to adapt easily to his new environment. During the transition period, if he refuses to eat or, worse, to drink for more than two days, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Do not wait until your cat is dehydrated.
The importance of freedom of movement
When your cat explores his new environment, let him do so freely and do not follow him around. Otherwise, he will get the impression that you are trying to protect him from a danger. Rather, try to adopt whatever routine you had in your former house, while keeping an eye on your cat. Thus, he will understand that although the territory changed, the routine remains relatively unchanged, which will partially reassure him. Do not encourage your cat to explore a particular place. Let him visit the surroundings at his own pace.
Why don’t you spread some treats around the house? This way, your cat will find out that in this new home, there are treats in every room! Wow! Much more fun than the former territory, is it not?
The faster you settle your personal effects in the house, the better your cat will feel. Each time you move a piece of furniture, you change the configuration of his territory. Over the weeks that follow your move, try not to reposition the furniture so as to give him a chance to get acquainted with his new home and to establish his precious routine. As most cats find comfort in heights, including a cat tree greatly helps in giving him a vantage point and alleviating his anxiety, particularly if you own several cats. The addition of disposable litter boxes in different rooms will also help your cat familiarize himself quickly with his new environment. Add some specks from his old litter box in order to add his scent to the litter.
Preparing your companion’s arrival in his new home is way worth the time and energy spent and your friend will undoubtedly be grateful for it!