Cats are territorial animals and can find moving house a very stressful experience. However, there are a few measures you can take to reduce your cat’s stress and ensure a smooth transition between homes.
Ensure that your cat is moved between homes in a suitable cat carrier with familiar smelling bedding (their favourite blanket). Most cats do not enjoy travelling so be aware that your cat may be quite distressed when you reach your new home. When you arrive at your new address do not release your cat until the household is as quiet as possible. Make sure that all doors and windows are shut and that any other escape routes, such as fireplaces, are blocked. Prepare a room for your cat – it is a good idea to confine them to one room in the house for a couple of days to slowly introduce them to their new environment. Provide them with a comfortable bed (with a familiar blanket and toys), a litter tray and food and water bowls. Release your cat from the carrier once you have prepared your cat’s new room. Sit quietly with your cat whilst they explore their new environment. You could encourage them to explore their new environment by hiding small amounts of dry food. Over the next few days make a few more rooms available to them, allowing the cat to explore them at will. Make sure that they are not able to escape the house for at least two weeks after your move so that they relax and develop an attachment to their new territory.
If your cat is used to being allowed outside and you want them to continue to have access to your garden, you will need to think carefully about how to do so without risking your cat becoming lost or running away. Start by introducing your cat to an enclosed area of your yard, if possible, where they are not at risk from cars and other animals. Leave the door to the house open as an escape route so that if they are frightened by a sudden noise or movement they can flee to the safety of their new home. When you first take your cat outside, stay with them and quietly reassure them as they explore. Initially, only let them outside for a few minutes at a time, gradually increasing the time outside until they are comfortable with the new surroundings. Continue to supervise them outside until you are confident that your cat has relaxed into their new territory and is not clashing with any neighbourhood cats that may have already claimed your yard for themselves.
RSPCA Australia encourages owners to keep their cats indoors, at a minimum from dusk til dawn. Containing cats during this time reduces disease and injury incurred by fighting or car accidents, reduces the impact of predation on local wildlife and gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with your pet. Some owners prefer to keep their cats inside at all times; providing an enriched indoor environment that gives their cat plenty of fun and exercise while protecting them from the risks that accompany outdoor adventures.
Make sure that when you move house you alert the Australian Animal Registry of your new details so that if your cat does escape and go missing she will be quickly returned to you by local veterinary clinics and shelters. Also, don’t forget to update your cat’s identification tag with any new details, if required.