How many boxes can you tick off the Checklist for a happy cat?

Yay! Moving to a new house is super exciting, a new beautiful environment, new decoration, a new life so to speak!
There’s someone in the house who doesn’t think so.

Yes, your cat…

Does that mean you can’t move? Of course not!

In this article, I give you an overview of things you can pay attention to in order to make this transition as optimal as possible for your cat!

Knowing where this behaviour comes from

Your cat is very attached to her environment, it’s as simple as that. Every nook and cranny is blessed with a unique combination of her pheromones. Your cat checks out everything on several fixed routes every day and knows every square inch for possible threats and she knows perfectly well where to find the goodies.

If she is suddenly taken to another living area, it requires a transition period. Again, she has to find out whether it is safe, where all the hiding places are, where the food and water stations are, put new ‘post-its’ of smells out everywhere and above all she has to make a careful estimate of possible threats in the neighbourhood.

A new start with familiar smells

No matter how tempting it is to get started with a new decor in your new home, a new sofa, new cupboards, new scratching posts etc. As far as possible, try to take old familiar smells with you from your previous home. For example, you can get extra towels, toys and fleece blankets from the petshop a few weeks in advance and distribute them throughout your home, especially in her favourite places.

You can then move these items with you and use them to cover new furniture with, so the new house smells familiar to your cats.

Do the same in the house, even if you’re not moving houses. Suppose you need to wash something, then that is all fine. The transition then happens almost unnoticed by your cat as she relies mainly on her sense of smell to recognise things.

The cat carrier

Prepare your carrier in a safe place weeks in advance. Lure her into the basket every day with a nice treat or reward, start closing the door once in a while, walk around and put the basket back down, open the door and you give your cat a reward. Change the context when you walk around (inside/outside, up/down, with/without using stairs, with/without car ride, in the car with/without engine, etc.). So the ride to your new home is just a nice training session.

The moving guys

Yeah, they are scary, so put your cat in a safe, enclosed space where she has everything she needs and she does not have to go experience anything from the move itself. The stress of this smaller space does not outweigh the stress of walking in front of the moving guys. Clearly mark the door with a large note to say that your cat is in there and the door must be kept closed then you don’t have to worry about them for a second.

The preparation of your new house

Try to furnish your new home as well as possible and get everything ready for the cat before bringing her in. Don’t worry about the cardboard boxes, she’ll love to jump into them, so do not get rid of them straight away! Be sure to cover windows which go down to the floor with window film as well, so she does not suddenly stand face to face with an unfamiliar outdoor cat.

Meeting the new environment

Here are several possibilities. If you have a confident cat, you can put her in the living room and give her the whole house to explore. If you have a cat that is shy and is having a harder time, you put her in one room with everything she needs and give her all the time she needs until she feels better.
In both cases you proceed as follows: you put the carrier down, open it so the cat can come out at her own pace. Now you want to completely ignore her. She must now really be left alone to sniff around, to investigate, to look around and above all to assess whether there are any threats. She will also investigate where all the resources are, so it is important that this is all ready.

If your cat has only had one room so far, wait a day until she feels ok again, and then open the door to the rest of the house. Observe subtle signals of stress, as described in the Guide for a Happy Cat.

How do you know when she is done? You’ll know that when she comes back to initiate contact with you herself. Pay attention to our golden rules that we discuss in the Happy Cats Bootcamp online training from step 11 to step 20.

And last but not least?

Enjoy your new place!

Love, Anneleen ♡

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