Moving your cat to a new home can pose some special challenges. Although many cats will happily and immediately adjust to a new home after just a little exploration, some will not. It’s a good idea to be prepared for this, just in case.

Moving Your Cat – Before The Move

Microchip cat

Update your cat’s microchip info!  Before moving your cat to a new home, be sure to update his microchip information. This won’t affect your kitty’s anxiety, but it might ease your mind by increasing your kitty’s safety.  Update your cat’s microchip registry address information, and his collar tag if he has one before you travel to your new home.  Microchipped cats with correct registry information are far more likely to be reunited with their loving owners if they are missing for any reason.

Research and find a new cat vet. We recommend that you get established with an experienced cat veterinarian in your new area as soon as you can. Have your cat’s medical records sent to the new vet before you move. Should your kitty develop any health problems, it’s less stressful for you and your kitty if you already know and trust your new vet, and your new vet will be better able to provide good care if she has already met your cat and knows his medical history. 

Moving Your Cat – Moving Day

Moving cats to new house

Leading up to the big move day, your kitty may be anxious from all the packing materials and moving of his favorite furniture. Try to keep a single room or spot with some of his favorite articles to reduce the stress of all the preparations.

On the day of your move, your kitty will be extra stressed by the appearance of new people and lots of movement coming and going from the house. To reduce the possibility of an escaped cat, it’s best to keep your cat in a carrier, a separate room where the furniture and boxes have already been removed, or board your kitty at an outside facility.

Moving Your Cat – Traveling To Your New Home

Whether flying or driving when moving your cat to a new home, learn about how to make appropriate preparations for the trip here. Learn about how to manage your cat’s travel anxiety here.

Here’s a cool fact: cat urine fluoresces under a black light. 

Moving Your Cat – At Your New Home:

You’ve finally arrived at your new home with your cat!  You’re already over most of the hard parts.  You took all the necessary steps to get to your destination with your cat with as little stress as possible.  Here are some tips for getting successfully settled in when moving your cat to a new home:

Cats sitting in window of new house

Introduce Your Cat To New Surroundings Gradually

Moving your cat to a new home is a lot of change for a cat. Cats who are more prone to anxiety can benefit from a more gradual introduction to their new surroundings. 

A good idea for the anxious kitty is to keep her in one room for a day or two (or longer if she needs it), with food, water, her litter box, and lots of your attention. That room becomes her “safe zone.” When she is clearly calmer in that one room, allow her to explore a little at a time, making sure she can always run directly back to that “safe room.”  Let your kitty take in your new home at her own speed; don’t force her to be in areas where she seems uneasy. 

Be careful letting out cats when you move to a new house

Runaway Cats

When cats are moved to a new area they have a tendency to want to return to their old familiar territory. If your kitty is an indoor/outdoor cat, when moving your cat to a new home it is best to keep him indoors for at least two weeks. Do not let him out until you are sure that he has thoroughly bonded with his new home. If you do eventually let him out, be mindful of other neighborhood cats.

Provide Familiar Items and Positive Reinforcement

Place familiar items in areas she will go to, such as her own cat bed or cat tree.  Feed her usual food, in her own usual feeding bowls, in a quiet spot.  Cats are often reassured by their person’s smells, too.  A few of your smelly socks or a sweaty t-shirt to cuddle up on can help a kitty feel safer.

Provide lots of positive reinforcement with petting and cuddles.  Positive reinforcement with treats can be used if your kitty is not overweight.  Be sure to offer only treats that are evolutionarily appropriate for cats.

A UV light show cat urine stains

Watch Out For Urine Marking Triggers

When moving your cat to a new home, anxiety will push some cats to mark areas of the new home with urine. You can help your kitty’s anxiety with any or all of the methods described here.  In addition, there are some common anxiety triggers specific to moving that you’ll want to be aware of.

  • Cardboard boxes are a very common target for new home urine marking. While unpacking and getting your new home in order, consider keeping your kitty confined to a room without cardboard boxes.  Break the cardboard boxes down and hide them away, if possible in a no-cat-access room, until you can get rid of them. 
  • The presence of another, unfamiliar pet can influence a kitty to mark his (or her!) territory.  A gradual introduction to that unfamiliar second pet can help.  
  • Scents from any pet that lived there before can trigger anxiety in your cat, even if you can’t smell them.  A thorough cleaning of all carpets and floors can help a lot with this.

Find and clean marked areas promptly:  If your kitty is urine-marking, the odors left by marking (even if you can’t smell them at all!) will influence your kitty to continue marking behaviors.  Managing anxiety will help greatly, but you’ll also need to find all those marked spots and clean them thoroughly.  Products designed to remove pet urine odors work best.  

Can’t find all the marked spots?  Here’s a cool fact: cat urine fluoresces under a black light.  “Blacklight flashlights” are readily available on Amazon and in many pet stores.  Examine the vertical surfaces in your home at night with one of those, and you may find more marked areas than you thought. 

Moving Your Cat To A New Home

Moving is one of the most disruptive life events for both you and your cat. But, with proper planning, many of the anxiety-inducing aspects of moving with your cat can be mitigated.