Moving with Cats

“I moved across country twice” says Little GarrisonSo you have to move? Most people dread moving more than anything…next to the death of a loved one!  I can’t stand to move. Of course you would never believe that considering we have moved 9 times in the past 14 years! But, each move did have a very good reason associated with it. Because I have moved so many times with animals, I have become an absolute pro. Dogs are pretty easy..always keep them on a leash and make sure you have food, water and bowls with you. Cats are different. There are many things you can do to help move cats with the least amount of stress. I moved 5 cats across country twice and each time it was smooth sailing. Here are the steps I take:

1. Try to limit the amount of packing your cats see you doing. I typically will work in one room and keep the cats out of that room while I am packing up boxes. I certainly do not want to pack one of my cats in a box!

2. Thirty days before the big move place the carrier you will be using in your house with soft bedding and treats in it. Keep the door to the carrier open so the cats get used to it. If you will be doing a long move where the cat will be in a carrier longer than a few hours, use a carrier big enough to also hold a small litter box. Start to use this litter box (as an extra box) so your cats get used to it.

3. Thirty days before the move start giving your cats about 3-5 drops of Back Flower’s Rescue Remedy (available at most health food stores) in their water. This is a all natural essence that will keep your cat calm. It has a cumulative effect so you need to start giving it to them at least 30 days before for the best results.

4. Try to limit your stress and give your cats lots of attention.

5. You can take your cats on small drives around the neighborhood (in the carrier of course) to get them used to being in the car. However, I have moved my cats without doing this and the stress was about the same.

6. Moving day: the first thing you do prior to moving your furniture and boxes out of your house is to secure your cats. I like to put them all in a bedroom that has the least amount of furniture to move. Put a big sign on the door telling your friends (who are hopefully helping you!) not to enter this room. You do not want your scared cats to dart out of your house.

7. Once the entire house is packed up and you are close to being ready to go, put your cats in the carriers. My cats like to have a travel buddy to snuggle. When I moved 5 across country I used two extra large dog carriers. I put 2 cats in one and 3 in the other. I put a hanging water bowl on the door of the carrier with a small amount of water. I also put a small bowl of food. The litter box also was in the carrier. Of course I had blankets and pillows to make it nice and cozy!

8. Before putting the cats in the carrier, spray the carrier with Felliway (can be purchased at any pet store). Felliway is a pheromone which makes cats feel safe and relaxed.

9. Before you move the carrier be sure the screws are tightened or use a zip tie to secure the carrier. Too many cats have been lost  from carriers popping open. Never carry a carrier from the handle…always carry from the bottom. Once the cats are in the carrier DO NOT open the carrier. NEVER open the carrier in the car or outside. Only open the carrier when in a secure room where you won’t lose your cats.

10. Have the car warmed up or cooled off (depending on the weather) and have very soothing music on in the car.

11. If you are driving a long distance that requires staying in a hotel be sure to have the felliway available. Also bring the comforter/spread from your bed to use in the hotel. Both these things will help your cats feel safe while in the hotel. You will also need to bring a gallon of the water your cats are used to drinking to prevent diarrhea.

12. When you arrive at the hotel be sure to completely check the room to make sure there is no areas where your cats can get out. Check windows, holes in walls, air vents, etc. Also check to see if your cats can hide under the bed, in the bed frame, etc. The first time we moved across country with our cats, Longtail climbed into an easy chair and it took us FOREVER to get him out! Be sure to close all windows in the room so your cats can’t push open a screen. Once you have secured the room, set up their food, water and litter box. Put your comforter on the bed and spray felliway around the room.

13. Make sure you will not need to leave the room once you bring the cats in. You do not want anyone to run out of the hotel door. Bring the carriers in, lock the door and let your babies out in the room for the night.

14. Once you arrive in your new home you will follow the same process as in the hotel…check for safety, put down food, water and litter box, put out familiar bedding and spray with Felliway. I suggest setting your cats up in one room while unpacking your car/truck. Be sure to put a note on that door telling people/movers not to enter.

15. Once you are completely moved in…let your kitties out to explore your new home. Keep putting rescue remedy in their water for 30 days after the move to help their transition.

Congrats! You survived a move with cats…

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