Moving and Packing Tips

How to Settle a Cat After Moving House

Moving house with a cat can prove to be a more challenging task than relocating on your own. For pets moving can be a very stressful and scary experience. All the relocated furniture, packed boxes and the strangers going in and out make their safe home into an alienated environment. This can be a lot for anyone, let alone for cats that prefer routine and familiar surroundings.

In this article, we will talk about some good practices when moving house with a cat to make the feline feel at home again as quickly as possible. This article will teach you the most important things for keeping your cat happy and helping the animal settle quickly into your new home.

This post is for:

  • People relocating with a cat;
  • Cat owners who need to re-introduce the cat carrier.

How long does it normally take for a cat to settle into a new home?

Cats are known for their independence and dislike of change. When moving to a new home, give your cat time to adjust to its new surroundings. Usually, it should take no more than a week or two. For some, this may only take a few hours, but other cats may need months, especially the more timid ones. Observe your cat’s behaviour and you will definitely notice when things start to change for the better.

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Tips on how to settle your cat into a new home

Relocating with a cat may look like a very tough job to do, therefore we have prepared a few useful tips to make things easier for both you and your furry roommate.

Use pheromone spray

As we have mentioned in the intro, scents and also pheromones are important for our pets. Familiar smells and scents can calm down a stressed animal. That is why it might be a good idea to obtain calming pheromone spray for your cat even before starting to pack for your move.

There are plug-in-socket options that you can find at your local veterinarian. Plugin the pheromone dispenser before changing the environment in your home. This will help your cat cope with the change and keep calm.

Make the place cat-safe

Right before you let your pet roam your new home, you should make a security sweep. Look for exit ways, random rusty nails, old rat poison that was left somewhere, etc. Check thoroughly for anything that can threaten your cats’ safety and health. Do that with the garden as well, there are some plants that deter felines, and people often plant them for that very reason.

Erase the markings of previous pets in your new house

The property should be thoroughly cleaned before you settle in. If the previous owner had cats, your feline companion might catch some of their scents and get stressed. If you notice this, rub all the corners of the house with a cloth and some detergent or alcohol. The idea behind this activity is to limit the scent of the previous cats, so your own cat can mark its new territory.

Scent – swapping

Cats mark territory by rubbing cheeks on corners. So, when the cleaning detergent or alcohol that you have applied to the corner of the house evaporates, you can take a blanket that your cat has previously slept on, or another piece of cloth that was in contact with your pet and rub those same spots again.

This will establish the territory of your cat’s new kingdom. You won’t notice any difference, except in the behaviour of your cat. It will start walking around the property more relaxed, wagging its tail slowly.

Gradually introduce your cat to the new home

When you arrive at your destination, unpack your cat’s belongings first and see where you can set it up, away from family members and other humans. While in its carrier, you can introduce your cat to its new surroundings. Then close the doors and windows of the room and open the gate.

Don’t rush your cat out, let it come and explore on its own. Sit in the room for a couple of minutes to encourage your pet to come outside. Once your cat starts to sniff around the room and is relatively calm, you can start the long process of unpacking and setting up all of your belongings.

Keep your cat in that safe room. For now, don’t let your cat through the rest of the house. Once the kitty is used to that room, you can start introducing the rest of the home, again one room at a time.

Keep the daily routines

Opt for keeping your daily routines the same. This will communicate to your cat that everything is okay. At least feed your cat at the same time intervals and don’t alter its meals. If you usually let your cat sleep with you on the bed, don’t restrict that, keep your routine as much as possible.

Install cat flaps only once your pet is comfortable in the new place

If you usually let your cat go outside, you should install cat flaps on the door leading to the yard. Do this once your pet has shown signs that it’s getting used to its new environment. Don’t forget to take measures of the cat flap you plan on buying and check if your cat can pass through freely.

Spread the contents of its litter box across the yard to mark the territory

Another trick to establish your cat’s territory is to take its used litter box and spread its contents across the garden of your new property. This will prevent other cats from coming and fouling in it, and it will help your cat feel more at home. This is highly beneficial if you are moving house with an outdoor cat.

Give your details to your old neighbours so they can call you if they spot your cat

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How long to keep your cat in after moving house

Right after rehoming your pet, the question of when to let it roam outside arises. Keep your cat indoors until you are sure that your pet is feeling alright inside the house. You want to be certain that your cat considers this new property to be its new home, so you can rely on it coming back.

It takes roughly two weeks for a feline to establish the boundaries of its new territory. If it is an outdoor cat, you may let it go out even earlier. Start by going outside with your cat. Don’t carry it outside, just walk out and leave the door behind you open. If your cat is ready, it will come to look around. Its scent would already be around the garden, thanks to you, spreading the used litter, so your pet should feel right at home.

Number one rule for letting cats outside after moving is for those walks to be done around the time you are feeding your pet. Hunger will be a great motivation for it to come running back after it hears you opening the draw with cat food.

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  • Prepare a safe haven with lots of hiding places for your cat in which she will rest while the move is ongoing;
  • Start packing early, so you can slowly progress with the task and limit the shock for your pet;
  • Don’t rush to let your cat explore the entire property after the move. Let it get used to the place on its own tempo;
  • Introduce your cat’s smell around the property, to help it feel at home;
  • Used litter is a great way to mark the backyard as your pet’s territory.


Hope you find the article useful and worthy of sharing with fellow cat owner that are about to relocate. As always, feel free to share your personal experience in the comments.

Image source: depositphotos / markcarper

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