Just before Christmas, Rob and I moved into a new house. We upgraded a little – bigger house, bigger rooms, nicer area, cat flap. The move itself was relatively painless (although unpacking was a different matter) and we even managed to get a Christmas tree up… our cats, however, were less enthusiastic.
We have two kitties – Travis, our cuddly black-and-white fella who is entirely spoilt and often cradled like a baby, and Lilian, our skittish tabby with supermodel good looks and a butter-wouldn’t-melt attitude. They’re outdoor cats, King and Queen of the Street, used to the routine of coming inside every evening and sleeping on our bed. So moving them from their happy, settled lives in our old house has been quite a challenge.
We were lucky enough to have a bit of crossover between the end of our old rental and the start of our new one. We let the cats outside while loading up our van – lots of hefting, banging and swearing is is surely very unsettling when you don’t understand what’s happening, so keeping them away from this meant they were blissfully unaware.
Similarly, when unpacking at the new house we left the cats behind and got all the big stuff in place. We then went back to the old house and slept there for two nights with the cats, before bundling them up in their carriers and introducing them to a whole new world.
Our first few days in the new house were spent mostly in the living room – this was the only room fully set-up, and having a finished space without boxes and bubble wrap helped keep the cats calm.
Pets at Home kindly sent me some vouchers before Christmas, so I spent them wisely and bought a Feliway plug-in diffuser. The diffuser works by mimicking the natural pheromones cats produce when they feel safe and secure, creating a sense of calm and wellbeing. We set up the diffuser in the living room and kept the cats in this room until the rest of the house was more organised.
With the Feliway in place, we started making the rest of the house more cat-friendly. One of the main problems with moving cats is the sense of ‘newness’ – new furniture, bedding and carpets are just as confusing as new surroundings. We got a new sofa when we moved, but we kept cushions and blankets from the old place so the cats could pick up their scent, even in an unfamiliar environment.
We also created ‘Cat Corner’ – using our vouchers, we bought this Kitty Activity Centre (highly unattractive but they love it) and covered it with blankets and toys they’re used to.
We kept Travis and Lily inside for three weeks before letting them roam free. Before we moved they spent most of their time outside so keeping them in was very difficult… we had a number of ‘dirty protests’ which were NOT pretty. So after three weeks, when they were climbing the walls and trying to sneak past us at the front door, we unlatched the cat flap and watched as they made their first ginger steps outside.
They’ve been going outside for a week now and it’s slow process, but they’re getting there. Lily is a timid lady so she’s still not sure, and Travis has had a few yowling conversations with the cat next door, but they’re getting braver and going further. Give it a few more weeks and they’ll be King and Queen of the Street again.
Have you ever moved with cats? Any tips to share?