Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: June 22, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Moving is stressful for humans, and it’s even more stressful for cats. Cats are creatures of habit who hate having their routine disrupted, but there are things you can do to make the entire process less taxing for both cat and human.
This is the second post in a three-part series about moving with cats. Part one addressed how to prepare for a move to make the entire process less stressful for both cat and human. In part three we’ll provide tips to help cats settle into their new home. Today, we’ll provide tips on how to make the actual move as stress free as possible, whether you’re moving locally or all the way across the country.
Plan, plan and plan some more
Have a plan in place for every step of the move.” Planning is the biggest thing,” said Mary Stanley, who moved and “snow birded” many times with her cats. “Know how the day is going to flow, have supplies on hand and accessible, and know what you are going to do when you arrive at your new place.” Gina Ysunza echoes Mary’s advice. “Prepare, plan ahead and make a list of to do’s and supplies.”
Create a safe space for your cat
Confine your cat to a quiet room or bathroom that the movers do not need to access. 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 separate. “”The biggest mistake we made in one of our early trips was having the cats share a crate,” said Mary. “It was okay at first, but then as they got stressed and tired, aggressive behaviors started.”
Depending on your cat’s temperament, boarding your cat for moving day may be an option, 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.
Driving with your cat
If you’re driving your cat to your new home and your trip will take multiple days, make sure you have made reservations at pet friendly hotels. “We have done two-day trips with our cats and normally stop after 10 to 11 hours of driving,” said Mary. “Residence Inn by Marriott is our go to hotel – the most pet friendly and set up best for cats.”
“Get the hotel room ‘cat proofed’ before you let your cats out of their travel carriers,” advised Keely, who drove from Virginia to Montana with her four cats. “Make sure there isn’t room under the bed for the cats to hide and/or get themselves up under the mattress area. Set up their food, water, and litter box so they can explore and settle in as quickly as possible. I requested rooms with beds that had no space underneath but I didn’t always get them, so it’s best to check before you let the cats out.”
Keely is a veteran of cross country moves with cats, but up until her move to Montana, she had never been the only driver. She made sure to get her car checked thoroughly before the trip to ensure there wouldn’t be any breakdowns along the way. She recommends keeping daily driving time as low as possible. “Don’t try to do 10 or 13 hour days for everyone’s safety. It’s worth adding a couple of days onto a move to ensure everyone is healthy and safe, including you as the driver,” she said. Keely tried to keep restroom breaks to a minimum. “Only stop when absolutely necessary, and where you can see the car,” she suggested. “Park as close as possible to the bathroom and don’t take too long so as not to leave the cats any more than necessary.”
Flying with your cat
Check with your airline well ahead of time to make sure your cat can be in the cabin with you. Avoid having to fly your cat in cargo at all costs. Find out what kind of paperwork your airline requires. Most airlines will require a health certificate. Confirm the exact dimensions of the space underneath the seat on the aircraft you’ll be flying on as this will determine whether your carrier will fit and be allowed in the cabin. Reconfirm all arrangements with your airline two weeks prior to your flight, and again the day before your flight.
In addition to getting your cat used to the carrier well ahead of the trip, you’re also going to want to get your cat used to a harness, since that will be your safest way to get your cat through security. Keep your own accessories to a minimum so you can focus on your cat. Your cat’s carrier will need to go through the security scanner, but your cat cannot, so you will need to carry her through the human scanning device. She should be wearing a secure harness with a leash to prevent escape. Even the most mellow cat may become startled by all the activity at the checkpoint and might dash out of your arms. Your best option is to ask for a private screening room. If the TSA attendant won’t comply, ask for a supervisor. Even in a private screening room, it is best to have a harness and leash on your cat.
Litter, food, and water
Regardless of how you move your cat, traveling on an empty stomach will reduce the risk of nausea, so you may want to withhold breakfast on travel day. Carry enough of your cat’s food with you for the number of days you’re traveling. Have a small bowl available for water. Line the carrier with pee pads and carry extra pads with you. “Bring a lot of paper towels, pee pads, plastic bags, water, extra litter, extra treats and food,” said Keely. “Also, pet-safe baby wipes. Kitties’ stomachs can get upset and they can have accidents or vomit along the way if they get carsick. You may need to clean up a mess while on the road so be prepared and patient with your kitties.” Keely recommends bringing favorite food and treats, but “don’t expect them to eat or drink much on the road.”
Tranquilizers and sedatives
Discuss the use of tranquilizers or sedatives with your veterinarian. If you and your vet decide to use tranquilizers, give a “test pill” well before your trip so you can see how your cat will react. “A one time dose of Gabapentin was essential in our case,” said Chris Roy, who drove 13 hours from Virginia to Massachusetts with her two cats. ”
Spray the carrier with Feliway spray 15 minutes prior to travel. Holistic remedies such as Stress Stopper or Rescue Remedy can also be helpful.
About Sleepypod’s Carriers
Sleepypoid’s multifunctional carriers are ideal carriers for moving. They can be used as cozy napping spots at home, and easily convert to safe car seats or airline carriers.
The Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed is so much more than just a carrier. It’s a luxury bed, lined with ultraplush foam. The domed cover unzips easily, so you can adapt it to your cat’s sleeping preference even while using it inside your home. Some cats may prefer the top removed, others may like the security of the cover.
When used as a carrier, the Sleepypod not only lets your cat travel in comfort, it’s also the safest cat carrier on the market. Velcro positioning points that secure a seat belt in place turn the Sleepypod into a safe car seat. The Pet Passenger Restraint System (PPRS) is a safety system designed by Sleepypod to secure a pet in a vehicle and restrict harmful movement resulting from a sudden vehicle stop or frontal collision. Sleepypod puts all their carriers through stringent safety tests at the same standards set for child safety restraints.
If you’ve ever had to research traveling by plane with your cat, you have most likely run into confusing size restrictions, depending on which airline you check with. The Sleepypod Air’s innovative design addresses this issue by providing size versatility through flexibility. The unique design allows the carrier to contract to fit under the seat during takeoff and landing. Once the plane is in the air, the carrier can easily be expanded so that your cat can have the largest possible space underneath the seat.
Manage your own stress
Cats are little “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.
Coming soon: Moving with Cats, Part Three:
Settling into a New Home
For more information about Sleepypod and all of their products, please visit Sleepypod.com.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.