Moving and Packing Tips

What to Do When Moving House With a Cat

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 the best practices when moving house with a cat. What to do, what to plan for, and what not to even think about. This article will teach you the most important things for keeping your cat happy and present in your new home.

This post is for:

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

General tips on moving house with a cat

For those of you in a hurry, we wanted to include a short list of the main tips on moving with a feline.

Moving house with an indoor cat

  • Keep your cat in its favourite room while outside people are present;
  • Try to get your cat to spend time in its carrier before the move;
  • Stock up on treats;
  • Get a pheromone spray to help your cat settle;
  • Erase the markings of previous pets in your new house;
  • Introduce your cat to the new property one room at a time;

Moving house with an outdoor cat

  • Spread the contents of its litter box across the yard to mark territory;
  • Give your details to your old neighbours so they can call you if they spot your cat;
  • Install cat flaps only once your pet is comfortable with its new home.

Prepare for moving home with a cat

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 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 in its environment and keep calm.

Prepare a safe haven for your cat

Before the move, start gradually relocating food and water bowls, bed, litter tray, scratching post and your cat’s toys into one room, which is as far as possible from all the action that will take place during the moving day. Let your cat get used to this new set up for a couple of days before the move. Now is the perfect time to re-introduce its carrier.

Most cats rarely spend time in their carriers, which is usually on the way to the vet, and let’s be honest – those are not great memories to have. Set up the carrier with a warm blanket inside and place it in that safe room. Don’t forget to position your cat’s bowl nearby and toss some of its favourite treats inside. Do as much as possible to encourage your cat to spend some time in its carrier or cat basket and get used to it. This will make the cat transport easier on moving day.

Packing when moving with a cat

Start packing early, so you can slowly progress with the task and limit the shock for your pet. Things that your cat is interacting with on a regular basis should be left for last. Favourite chairs to sleep on, favourite blankets and, of course, all of your cat’s toys, bowls and other possessions. If you are in a rush and plan to benefit from a professional packing service, make sure you put your cat in its dedicated safe room, that you have already prepared.

Register your cat with a local vet

As soon as you know where you are moving to, you should register your cat with a local vet. Get a set of tags for its collar with the new address and/or change the info on its microchip. This is a mandatory step, especially if you are moving house with an outdoor cat.

Give your old neighbours a heads-up to call you if they ever spot your cat in the area. Often, when cats run away after rehoming, they get back to their old territory. Ideally, the new owners of your home should also be aware of such a possibility.

Moving abroad with a cat

If you are moving abroad with a cat, you should prepare its passport and secure a general health check document from your vet. See if there are other requirements you need to meet from the country you are travelling to, and make sure to comply with those as well.

You should also ask your airline provider whether they would let you take your cat in a carrier on board, beneath your seat, and if there are any additional specifics to keep in mind. That is a possibility with most airlines and it comes at a small price on top of your ticket.

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Moving with cats

After all of your belongings were loaded in the removals van and sent on their way to your new place, it is time for you and your feline companion to head there, as well. If you didn’t skip the previous paragraphs, your cat should be in its safe room, surrounded by all of its favourite things. If you did, you are probably searching for it…

Travelling with your cat

Pack your cat’s belongings, grab your bag of essentials, and be on your way to the new property. The best way for travelling with a cat in the car is to secure its carrier on the back seat of the vehicle and make sure you have some treats with you. You can always tie the carrier down using the seat belt. If your cat is nervous, try covering the carrier with a piece of cotton cloth. Check on it regularly and make sure it has access to freshwater while you are on the move.

Remember, don’t leave your cat in the car for extended periods of time, even if it’s under the shade!

It is important to note that some cats just don’t bear travelling that well and may make a mess on your back seat. You can lay a blanket underneath the carrier to prevent any damage to your seats. In case there is too much fur and pet treats covering the back seat, you can opt for a mobile car valet service after the move to remove the aftermath.

If your cat is suffering from nausea when travelling, don’t feed it for a couple of hours before the transition between properties. Consult with your vet for any pill you can give it to prevent nausea and vomiting.

Introducing a 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.

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.

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How to settle a cat into a new home

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.

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.

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.

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.

How long does it 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.

How long to keep a cat in after moving house

Speaking of outdoor cats, right after rehoming such a 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.


  • 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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