We’re moving, we’re grooving, we’re in the zone, we’re groovin’. No, I’m not talking about dancing I’m talking about physically moving, like moving for one house to another or one state to another. Moving, especially for people living in apartments, is part of life. So how can we make moving easier on your pets?
While it’s a part of life for us humans, but what about our pets? Oftentimes they don’t understand that moving means everyone, pets included. Everyone is moving to a new home, together. Especially those who have had a traumatic past will think that you are leaving them.
What led me to talk about this subject this week is because of my own personal experiences. I moved into a new apartment this week, and for my kitten, it was her first time moving with us. That made me think back to my first move with my first cat Phoebe.
If you’ve read the background on Phoebe, then you know that she was dumped, I would assume probably someone moving to another location and simply do not take her with them, but the possibilities are endless.
Regardless, I remembered the first time I moved with her and I was not easy! So, I drew upon what I learned for this time. I applied what I learned with Phoebe to Wobbles, the kitten. With each new kitten comes new experiences and I learned some new things moving with Wobbles. When I was discussing moving with some friends, their biggest obstacles they said were their pets. Dogs and cats alike were fearful, panicking, stressed out, and acting out because they were not sure of what was going on in with their family.
So to hopefully help the next person who is moving with their pets, I gathered the seven most helpful tips. These tips will help make moving with pets, cats specifically, a little easier.
1. Get stuff out early
To start out the moving process successfully is to start early. That is why my first helpful tip is to start getting stuff out early. Rather than waiting until a day or two before you move to pack everything up, prepare ahead of time.
Your cat will be more used to boxes and packing up things if you do a little bit each day. They will not be nearly as stressed out than if you were to suddenly add boxes to their home, start packing up their stuff and disrupt their lives abruptly.
In my experiences, I began moving very early with Phoebe. Partly because I was excited to move to a new apartment, but partly because I wanted to. I noticed that when the actual moving process occurred, she was not nearly as stressed out because she was used to boxes. Stuff sometimes went into boxes but it was not a big deal. It was still her and her mom (me) and life still went on. Things just went into the box.
And then this most recent time with Wobbles, I was not nearly as prepared. We started packing things up only a week in advance, not only did this cause us a lot of stress, but the cats were more stressed out. Everything was normal until it was not. Which is horrible for cats to experience. The next time that I move, I will start slowly packing things up early again, if not only for my own sanity but to help the cat’s stress levels.
2. Prepare your new home for them, pheromones.
A lot of times people will get the keys to their new homes a day or two prior to actually moving. They like this because it gives them time to start moving small stuff, get a feel of the place, do any cleaning and mentally prepare for the move. This is also a great time for you to prepare your new home for your cats!
Having things that smell like you and them will help make them feel more comfortable so letting them smell your clothes from the new place, and leaving things at your new place help make the transition a little easier.
In addition, I highly recommend using pheromones to help your cat feel more relaxed when they actually enter into the new home. What are pheromones you may ask? Basically, a pheromone used by cats to mark places, objects, and persons as familiar.
Often times they do this by rubbing onto things. Since they can’t rub their scent onto everything immediately in a new location, you can get a pheromone diffuser, like this one, that allows them to feel like the scent is all around the home. It calms them down and helps lessen their need to feel territorial.
Other Pheromone Recommendations
I actually also recommend people to use pheromones whenever they are adding another family member (cat, dog, or human) into the mix. If it is an animal, pheromones can help your current pet feel at ease with the newcomer while allowing your newcomer not to feel attacked and in ‘someone else’s home’. Some people even have pheromones diffusing constantly, so that is more of personal opinion.
My best example is my current living situation. Like I said in the first time, Wobbles was stressed out about the move. I knew that a lot of people and a lot of hustle and bustle was just going to stress her out even more. So before we were set to move all out of big things into the apartment, I went on Amazon and bought pheromones, actually these exact ones. I placed it in the new place with plenty of time to allow their pheromones to do their ‘magic’.
When it came time to move the cats, Phoebe was fine. Wobbles was scared, but what shocked us was how quickly the fear went away. That night, she came out from hiding to be with us all, with friends over! She never would come out in the open with strangers over. And the only difference that we had, pheromones.
3. Keep a positive attitude, then sense your emotions
When moving, you may begin to feel stressed out. I cannot ‘stress’ this enough, try and keep as calm as possible. Animals feed off your emotions. If you’re scared, stressed and anxious, it will make you cat worried and become stressed and anxious.
If you are calm, happy, and relaxed during the moving process then the cats will not think anything about the moving process. It will be a fun, exciting experience because they are sensing you are happy and relaxed.
I remember when we moved this most recent time, we were so happy and excited to move into this new gorgeous place. We kept a positive, upbeat attitude the entire drive and talked in an excited tone entering the apartment. When we opened the doors, the cats were so happy to explore this exciting place! I firmly believe that part of their excitement was because we were so excited as well.
4. Keep them in a confined room the day of moving
So you can keep a positive attitude, have everything packed, and prepare the other place for them. But when it comes to physically moving things from one place to another, it is crucial to keep them in a confined space. Everyone coming in and out will just cause them unneeded stress, especially if you leave to take a load over and they are left in a partially empty house by themselves. They will feel like you left them.
Or worse, they could get out. With all the hustle and bustle of people moving furniture, you will be more concerned with the furniture than if you kept the door closed. A scared cat could very easily run out and be lost forever. That would be the absolute worst way to start your moving day. Keeping them in a confined room will help keep them calm and safe, and get you the time to focus on moving things.
5. Do not move them until nearly everything else I moved
This one kind of goes along with keeping them in a confined space. If you move them into the new location before everything else is moved in, you run the same risks as above. They can become stressed out and escape the unfamiliar environment trying to go back home.
(My first time I had to leave Phoebe to go out of town, she kept trying to go outside to go ‘find me’. It was cute but scared me so much when I found out). If they are one of the last things to move, everything is ready for them.
They can enjoy the completed new home with their family and surround by all their things. You don’t have to worry about them trying to find all their things and their family. Everyone is already there.
6. Outside Cats
So I’m not going to go into too much detail about this because I intend on writing an entire blog post on how to move with an outside cat but there are some basics that everyone should know.
First, you need to make sure you bring your outside cat inside for at least a month. They need to adjust to being inside for a little while. It is important that when you move, you follow all of the above steps since they will be in a semi-unfamiliar environment.
They are used to being able to come and go as they please. But keeping them inside will make the moving process a lot easier than trying to pull them from their outside environment to a new location and trust that they will stay where they need to.
Next, when you are in your new place, you want to keep them inside again for anywhere from two weeks to a month. You want them to be adjusted to a new place before you introduce them to a new place AND a new outside location. You want them to know that this new place is their new home, so they don’t wander off trying to find their old home.
Finally, you want to semi-supervise them the first few times you let them back outside. You want to know where they can and cannot roam off to. Keeping an eye on them will also allow them to remember where their home is. Because at the end of the day, their home is not a location. It’s you.
7. Be Patient. Each cat is different and acclimates differently.
If you try all of these things, and your cat is still scared the day of moving. Relax, and be patient. Every cat is different. Some will acclimate to a new home right away, some will not. Especially for cats that have had a rough past, they may need a longer period of time to adjust to a new home. The first time you leave, they could be fearful of you leaving them forever.
The only thing you should not do is give up on them. They are not scared to spite you, they are just scared. Be understanding and caring to them and learn what works for them to move.
If you get frustrated will only make them more fearful. Remember, they sense your emotions. Frustration will just only make them more uneasy. Relaxed, happy and calm will make them relaxed and calm which will allow them to adjust at a faster rate than if you got frustrated.
Each pet is different. Some will be great when it comes to moving, and some will be absolute terrors. Whether you try all of these tips or just one, finding what works for you, your family, and your pets will ultimately help the moving process.
Moving only takes about a day or two so don’t get down if your cat freaks out about moving. Knowing you moving should be no reason to abandon your pet. It’s hard for me to not go off on a tangent about leaving your pets when you move, but that’s another post, another time.
Think of cats like babies, they don’t understand why you are moving when you are in the process, but after the dust settles, they will be happy. You will continue to be a family and have a (fairly) stress-free life, until your next move. And hopefully, at your next move, you can take these tips, along with what you learned in your most recent mov