Moving a Cat to Your New Home – Checklist

Are you moving to a new home or introducing a new cat to the family household? Moving is a stressful change for everyone involved so make sure you are well-prepared by taking the below steps before the move, during the move, and after the move. Before we dive in, here is an infographic that shows the general process of moving a cat to a new home. Feel free to share the infographic on your site.

Moving with Cats

Before the Move

Here are some steps before the big move.

#1 Research State & Local Pet Regulations

If you are moving to a different state or city, make sure you are aware of any pet regulations that apply to that location. Most states as well as transportation companies require documentations like an updated health certificate to prove your pet isn’t a carrier of transferable diseases. If you are bringing in a cat from outside the country then they are likely to be subject to a quarantine period. Make sure you take that into account when you plan out the whole move.

#2 Research Building Regulations

Contact your new building management or landlord and confirm there are no issues of keeping a cat at your new home. There have been far too many cases when cat owners failed to realize this and had to eventually give their pets away. Don’t make any assumptions. A lot of buildings allow for pet ownership but may have certain restrictions when it comes to size and breed. Other buildings may require you to register your cat first. If you are renting an apartment, the lease agreement should contain further information regarding pet ownership.

#3 Find a Cat-Friendly Vet

Find a new vet who is comfortable with dealing with cats. You should be looking for someone who understands the unique challenges of taking a cat to a pet hospital. For example, they should be aware that cats are highly sensitive to unusual sound and smell, and they also need to be handled gently and with respect. Your best bet is to first ask your current vet to see if there is anyone trustworthy in his or her network who is situated closely to your new home. Another option is to ask friends and families and see if they know of any good cat-friendly vets. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) is another good source to finding cat-friendly vets.

#4 Prepare Your Cat for a Carrier

To make the travel experience as stress-free as possible for your pet, it is important to prepare him or her for a travel carrier. Most cat owners would testify how hard it is keep their cats calm while traveling in a carrier. Unless you have a cat with a personality that is as cool as a cucumber, you will most likely be fighting or even wrestling to get your cat into the carrier. Preparation can be done by using a gradual process. A few weeks before the move, spend a bit of time traveling around with your cat in the carrier. Increase the traveling duration as you get close to moving day.

#5 Research Pet Transportation Options

When you are scheduling and planning for your cat’s transportation, see if it is possible to make the journey by car. This is probably the best option for people moving short to medium distances because you would have a lot more control over your cat’s situation during the journey. Unfortunately, if traveling by car is not an option, there are not too many alternatives available. You could possibly move by train or bus but many of the big national companies like Greyhound and Amtrak do not allow for the transportation of cats.

For long-distance travelers, it would be time-efficient to travel with your cat by plane. Air transportation for pets, however, can be pretty pricey so it is important to reserve your flight well in advance. There are several things to keep in mind before you make your flight reservation. First, you will have the option to transport your cat as cargo or as a carry-on. Second, airlines may not accept pet cargo if at the time of travel, the weather is too hot or too cold. Third, you should try and reserve a non-stop flight to avoid any further complications when transferring at multiple airports.

Once you have made the reservation, make sure you take the following steps before your journey. First, label the travel crate with a “Live Animal” sign so airport workers don’t mishandle the crate. Second, make sure you have all the important documents (like your cat’s health record) prepared in case someone asks for it during the journey. Again, don’t make any assumptions when you plan out the transportation part of the move. Always call or check the airline’s website to clarify any questions regarding cat transportation.

During the Move

Here are some steps to consider while the move is taking place.

#1 Put Your Cat in a Secure & Quiet Room

On moving day, make sure your cat is kept well away from the hectic areas. Designate a room to leave your cat in and make sure it is well-secured while things are being moved out. If possible, we also recommend you board the cat in a pet-friendly hotel or leave your cat with a friend or family member.

#2 Feed Your Cat a Few Hours Before Traveling

Do not feed your cat just before you make the actual journey. You should feed your cat at least three or four hours before the time of departure. The last thing you would want is for your cat to have an upset stomach due to the sudden stress of being moved to an unfamiliar environment. If you are making a long journey then be sure to bring some of your cat’s favorite snacks with you.

#3 Regular Toilet Breaks & Exercise

You should plan to have a few toilet breaks during the journey. However, don’t be too surprised if your cats decide to not use the litter box during the journey. That kind of behavior is fairly common.

#4 Keep the Car Well-Ventilated

If you are traveling by car, don’t forget to keep the inside well-ventilated. Your cat can overheat if neither the car nor the crate is well-ventilated.

After the Move

Here are some steps to consider after the move is complete.

#1 Gradual Introduction to the New Home

Most cats will feel overwhelmed by the strange new environment. Hence, it may be a good idea to take gradual steps to introducing your cat to the new home. One way of doing this is by keeping your cat in one room for the first few days. Once your cat is showing behaviors of comfort, you could then let him or her explore the other parts of the apartment our house.

#2 Apply a Familiar Scent to the New Home

Another step to make the new home more comforting for your cat is by applying a familiar scent to the new home. There’s a chance of your cat reacting negatively to any unfamiliar scent. One way of countering that is by using a product like a Feliway diffuser. Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that helps create a state of familiarity and security for your cat.

#3 Get Rid of Potential Hazards

Before you let your cat wonder the new home, be sure to check for any potential hazards. For example, you will want to keep any household chemicals well-secured in a cabinet. Other common household hazards for cats include: poisonous household plants, foods that are harmful to cats like onions and caffeine, and small toys that your cat could accidentally choke on.