Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: June 29, 2023 by Crystal Uys

grey cat with yellow eyes peeking out of cardboard box

Moving is stressful for humans, and it’s even more stressful for cats. Cats are creatures of habit who hate having their routine disrupted. There are things you can do to make a move less stressful for your cats and avoid problems associated with moving, such as inappropriate elimination, fear based aggression, and hiding.

Before the move

Get your cat used to his carrier. It can be helpful to leave the carrier out where the cat can always see it. If your move involves a lengthy drive, start taking your cat on increasingly longer rides in the car so he can get used to it.

Put moving boxes out several days, or even weeks, before you actually start packing so you cat can explore the boxes, and get used to their presence. Most cats consider boxes fun toys, and allowing them to become familiar with the boxes can create a pleasant association. When you actually start packing, watch your cat closely. If she seems to become agitated or nervous watching you pack away familiar things in her environment, you may want to confine her to a quiet room away from all the action.

If your cat is easily stressed in general, this is the time to think about using natural anti-anxiety products or, in severe cases, anti-anxiety medications. Products such as Stress Stopper or Rescue Remedy, which are made out of flower essences, work well for most cats. Feline pheromone plugins can also help calm your cats.

a cat in a cardboard box
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Moving day

Confine your cat to a quiet room or bathroom that the movers do not need to access. Post a sign on the door to keep movers keep out of that room. Make sure your cat has a litter box, fresh water, and comfort items such as a bed and favorite toys in the room with him. If you have multiple cats who get along, place all of them in the same room together. However, if you have cats that don’t get along, make arrangements to keep them in separate room.

Some people recommend boarding your cats for moving day, but unless your cat is used to and loves the boarding facility, this will only add more stress to an already stressful situation.

When it’s time to move your cat, place her in her carrier while she’s still in her safe room. With all the furniture and boxes gone, the rest of your house will no longer be familiar territory, and your cat could get spooked and bolt.

Cats are “stress sponges” – they tend to take on their humans’ stress. The better you manage your own stress throughout the moving process, the calmer your cats will be.

Image credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

Arriving at your new home

Before you even move your cat into your new home, cat proof the entire house. Make sure window screens are secure. Check for any areas where a scared cat could hide and close them off. Make sure that any chemicals such as pest control traps or cleaning supplies that may have been left behind by the previous owners are removed.

Set up a quiet room for your cat that includes a litter box, fresh water, and his comfort items. This can be your bedroom if you cat sleeps in the bedroom with you. Scatter some cat treats around the room before you let the cat out of her carrier to explore. For the first few days in the new home, especially while you’re still unpacking boxes, it may be a good idea to confine the cat to her quiet room. Make sure you spend time with your cat in her safe room, no matter how busy you are with unpacking and getting settled. Your cat needs to know that some things haven’t changed.

Slowly start giving your cat access to the rest of the house and let him explore gradually. Supervise your cat during these exploration sessions until he’s comfortable. During this phase of the move, you should place litter boxes in their permanent locations in the . Don’t get rid of the litter box in the safe room until you can be sure your cat is using the other boxes.

No two cats will react to the stress of a move the same way. Some cats will immediately explore and take over their new house, while others will take weeks to venture out of their safe room. Let your cat’s temperament be your guide as to how long this initial settling in phase needs to take.

Even though moving is stressful for cats, most cats will adjust quickly. It’s up to you to help make things as calm as you possibly can for your cat.

This article was previously published on and is republished with permission.

Featured Image credit: Glr0115, Unsplash

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