Moving With a Cat: Tips for Making It Less Stressful

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By Luciana Oliveira

As Sigmund Freud once said, “Time spent with cats is never wasted”. These beautiful creatures have been companions to mankind for thousands of years and still never cease to amaze. Independent and idiosyncratic in their behavior, they take no orders and have no master but themselves, always driven by a combination of cunning and curiosity. Their graceful and confident moves waste no energy and allow them to scale virtually everything, rightfully earning them a saying “nimble as a cat”. If you’re not a dog person, chances are you will love the felines. 

The true problems arise when you need to move to a different place. Cats are many things but being easily adaptable to sudden changes is not one of them. As a highly territorial species, they mark their areas via a combination of scent rubbing and scratching – and the new housing unit will obviously lack these feline marks. As a result, changing your dwelling will most likely be a highly stressful and terrifying experience for your kitty.

While it all depends on the cat’s temperament, there are fortunately some useful tips and tricks to minimize the impact of moving, for example, limiting the possible stressors, providing mild sedatives or even keeping your cat inside for a few weeks. Follow them and enjoy to the fullest your new home with your fluffy friend.

Help Your Cat Get Accustomed to the Cat Carrier and the Whole Process of Moving

Travelling with your animal can be an arduous process. As such, it is a good idea to ensure your pets, especially cats, have access to the best equipment money can provide. The true problems arise when you need to move to a different place. Cats are many things but being easily adaptable to sudden changes is not one of them. As a highly territorial species, they mark their areas via a combination of scent rubbing and scratching – and the new housing unit will obviously lack these feline marks. As a result, changing your dwelling will most likely be a highly stressful and terrifying experience for your kitty. Cbd oil from InnovetPet can help in this case.

Purchase A Proper Cat Carrier

Cat carriers are specialized containers that provide both comfortable and safe living space for your felines while being optimized for ease of transport. Procure a quality one and introduce it to your companion a few weeks before moving. Inside the cat carrier, place a variety of tasty treats your friend prefers, its preferred rug, and a few of the favorite toys. 

Use It To Create A Safe Space For Your Friend

Cats aren’t the quickest to adapt, so try to place the secure carrier in a quiet, safe room at least two weeks before relocating. This is important as the whole process of moving to a new home can be quite hectic, and the sudden appearance of many strangers looking to buy your old house might dissuade your companion from accepting its future temporary home. Keep the hatch open to allow the kitty unobstructed access to its new dwelling but at the same time, never forget to have the room’s door shut.

Apart from that, try to keep a few boxes filled with possessions in the same room as the soon-to-be-moved cat. You need to keep planning ahead and help your cat feel at ease with all of the still-packed boxes bound to be laying around in your new home. You will also accustom your cat to treat these as possible hiding places, something felines prefer to have.

Remember About IDs And The Vet

Word of advice, never forget to update your cats’ IDs before moving out. Also, if your new house is quite far away, consider choosing a new vet in the area. This will become increasingly important once you move.

Maintain An Illusion Of An Ordinary Day

You could try to further reduce the strain on your kitty by trying to maintain a semblance of normality.

That means letting it play with the toys or the boxes for a while in the morning. Cats are not that dissimilar to humans, and even such a simple activity might help lower their stress levels.

Follow that up with a succulent meal. You obviously can’t move your cat with an empty stomach as it is both unhealthy and might stress it even more. However, you should refrain from giving it a sizable course. The aforementioned stress and even car sickness can make your cat vomit all it ate, and that’s something both of you don’t want. In short, provide food but sparingly. Preparing small frequent meals a few days before moving house might be a decent idea.

Stow Your Cat Away When Moving Crew Arrives

Now, as the time to move your possessions approaches, try to clear out one room or closet and leave your cat inside. It might seem counterproductive, after all, your companion already has its own quiet room with the carrier, a litter tray, and a few packed boxes to play with. 

The problem is, those boxes need to be moved too, and the only way to achieve that is to keep your cat in a different room with the door closed. It will be a little stressful, but at the very least, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your feline friends are away from all of the commotion associated with people loading boxes and furniture to the removal van.

Put Your Cat Into The Carrier And Consider Giving It Calming Aids

When all of your belongings are already on the way to your new home, you can put your pet into its container. If yours is a calm, indoor cat, it might not be as hard as it sounds. Just guide it gently inside, perhaps with a treat, and close the hatch. The issues may arise when feline companions are not of the temperate kind. Nervous cats have the tendency to react aggressively or apprehensively, regardless of the steps you took before. What you could do is use some remedies.

Behavioral Medications

It might be a good idea to plan ahead for this and ask your vet a few days before moving to prescribe calming medication. Sudden fear and aggression in cats are often treated with benzodiazepines.

Drugs from this family, such as Valium, Librium, and Xanax work by increasing the activity of a chemical in the brain that interferes with activation of the fear networks. Usually, even low doses significantly reduce the cat’s excitability, although it’s strongly recommended to always consult them with your veterinarian.


Another alternative is to purchase cannabidiol oil, which is an extract from the hemp plant that contains CBD, the non-intoxicating substance found also in cannabis. Do not worry, as CBD, unlike THC, is non-psychoactive, so your cat won’t be at any point unsober, merely calmer.

Although there is no definitive research on the subject, many users report beneficial results with their cats, such as increased mobility, better response to allergens, or mild sedative effects. The last one would be especially important to keep your cat from panicking as you drive the car to your new home. It is ultimately up to you whether to trust it, but the fact is, it remains an alternative to the traditional calming medication.

Remember About These When Driving

The last few tips in this paragraph address the period when you drive to the new place. Never transport your cat alone in the moving truck. Always remember to fasten the seat belt on the cat carrier to minimize the risk of injury during unexpected braking or a crash. 

If you have to stop and get out while transporting the cat to a new house, take extra precautions to make sure that the climate control is on and working. A hot car could be very dangerous to all animals, including cats, and could even lead to the police forcefully opening the vehicle to save the animal. 

Moreover, always remember to leave the cat carrier door closed while driving. A cat, disoriented by the new surroundings, might try to go for an open window or, worse, seek refuge on your dashboard or steering wheel and thus potentially cause an accident.

After Moving, Help Your Cat Acclimatize

As we’ve said before, cats are not the most adaptable species, and you need to take that into account when entering your new home.

First of all, adhere to the “one room at first” rule. Most cats would initially feel insecure in a new environment, and even a new cat would be quite wary. Therefore it is best to let the cat settle in the enclosed space. Place everything cats need to survive there; that is a carrier, a litter box, and food/water bowls, and let your feline accept that one room at its own pace. It’s never a bad idea to add some carton boxes and a scratching post for it to enjoy in its own time. Try to spend some quality cat time with your companion so as to make it even more comfortable.

Clean Everything And Use Scents or Pheromones

If, even after a few days, your cat is not ready yet to explore the rest of the house, consider giving everything a thorough clean-up. Cats are often scared of all the lingering aromas in new environments and they have an excellent sense of smell, so discovering traces of the previous inhabitants poses no problem to them. Washing the carpets and vacuuming the new house will help you to get rid of such olfactory remains. 

Next, you can take a soft cotton cloth, rub it against the cat’s face, and after collecting some of the familiar scents, use it to mark the doors and furniture at the cat height. To add up to this effect, consider buying a special collar with calming pheromones. In this way, cats may be emboldened to finally venture outside their designated safe room and do some cat rubbing to further mark their new territory, one room at a time.

Proof Your New Home Against Escape

Make sure to keep your cat indoors at first. New owners might be tempted to place an outdoor cat house in their new garden, but giving it free rein there early on may backfire. Once again, felines are a highly territorial species, and it may turn out that your fluffy companion went outside and met its annoyed neighboring cousins. If it happens before the acclimatization process is finished, your terrified kitty may decide to jump the ship and try returning to the previous house! These things do happen, and as mentioned above, it is very important that your cat has its ID updated. 

For the most optimal results, consider implanting a microchip in it so that once your kitty is found, identification poses no problem. Besides that, don’t leave any of the windows wide open and try to tape all of the cat flaps in your new home. You might think that your pet friend is too big or too tall to fit into these, but cats are supremely flexible and will have no issues squeezing through. So, to sum it up, keep your cat indoors, shut every cat flap, and possibly microchip your friend.


As you can see, moving with a cat doesn’t have to be a highly stressful activity for both of you. By following the aforementioned tips, your purrfect companion gets a relatively easygoing experience and a lot of help with acclimatization, while you get peace of mind that everything and more has been done to ensure its well-being. Good luck and many happy cat times in the new place!

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Luciana joined our team as a mum blogger in 2020. A dedicated mum to a lively daughter and a dog, Luna, Luciana brings authenticity and passion to every post. Her expertise in parenting and lifestyle topics offers practical, relatable advice for real-life situations.

2 thoughts on “Moving With a Cat: Tips for Making It Less Stressful”

  1. Hi Luciana, your tips for moving with cats are extremely helpful! Cats can be quite sensitive to change, so these suggestions will definitely make the moving process smoother for both the cat and the owner. Thanks for sharing your valuable insights!


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