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Moving house with cats - my top 10 tips for keeping your kitty calm

Moving house is a stressful time, made moreso if you have pets to move too!

I recently moved house and with one of my cats having a very low resistance to stressors, I made sure I kept things as calm as possible to reduce any recurrence of stress related illness (see blog here).

I am extremely happy to say that a week and a half after the move, there has been no recurrence of stress related illness and all cats have settled in well.

Below are the steps I followed to ensure the experience was relatively calm for my feline friends.

1. Pack slowly

I started packing the house up a couple of weeks before the moving date. I started packing smaller things and things hidden away first so as to reduce any suspicion of things disappearing. Most of the time, I only packed when stress kitty wasn’t around ie if he was sleeping downstairs, I would pack upstairs and vice versa.

2. Designated space for packing and packed boxes

I stored the empty packing boxes outside so as not to alarm the kitties of what was coming. Packed boxes I kept in a corner of the house away from the cats common travel routes.

3. Use natural calming remedies

In my experience, flowers essences and essential oils work a treat for helping to maintain a sense of calm for my kitties. My go-to flower essences are the Australian Bush Flower Essences Emergency Essence. I also diffuse DoTerra Balance Blend, a grounding blend of hard to find essential oils that the cats don’t react negatively too and that seem to assist in keeping things calm.

I’ve never used and don’t recommend anxiety medications due to the potential side effects impacting on the overall health of our pets.

On this occasion, I applied Emergency Essence at regular intervals from the time I started packing, increasing in the lead up to the move. I didn’t use the DoTerra Balance Blend until after the move.

I had planned on using a synthetic cat pheromone diffuser but upon testing out with my stress kitty I decided against it. These pheromone diffusers can work a charm for some cats but upon by smelling the diffuser, stress kitty pulled away. He didn’t appear very impressed by the smell!

I had previously diffused the DoTerra Balance Blend with stress kitty during stressful periods and it seemed to help.

4. Safe space

It is imperative that cats have a safe space to hide whilst packing up the house and especially on moving day. My cats feel safest in my bedroom.

The day before moving day, I moved everything that was to go in the removals truck away from the cats safe space. The less disturbance to them, the better for reducing the stressful impacts of moving house, which meant the less chance of stress kitty getting sick.

5. Move the cats the following day

If possible, I recommend waiting to move the cats until the day following the move. Of all the times I have moved house with my cats, this was the first time I had done this and I believe it was instrumental in helping to reduce the stressful impacts of the move.

Moving day is extremely stressful for cats due to the change in routine and the increased noise level. By waiting to move them until the day after the removals truck has been, it reduces the stress inflicted on them.

Of course this may not always be possible. It means having somewhere to you to sleep after your furniture has been taken away but if you can arrange it, I strongly suggest it, especially if you have cats particularly susceptible to stress.

The other thing I did on this occasion was to gradually move things into the new home, unpacking as I went. This meant that by the time I moved the cats to the new home, it was relatively unpacked and organised. Not only does this reduce the noise and commotion after moving, it also increases the familiar smells in the new home, which will aid in the cats feeling safe.

6. Withhold breakfast!

Withholding breakfast on the day of the move can prove very wise. A nervous kitty can mean a nervous belly resulting in vomit.

I never have withheld breakfast before and never had an issue. This occasion proved different.

It seems stress kitty has developed car sickness after the many trips back and forth to the vet this year. I fed him approximately four hours before taking him in the car to the new house but the journey proved too much for his sensitive belly. Two vomits and a poo. Needless to say, our drive was not pleasantly fragranced!

I knew it is recommended to avoid feeding on moving day, however knowing stress kitty, withholding his breakfast would have been a stressor for him. Caught between a rock and a hard place, I decided to feed him and thought four hours would be enough time. Clearly not!

7. Repeat steps 3 and 4

After the move, repeat steps 3 and 4, that is – keep administering the Emergency Essence and diffuse essential oils plus ensure the cats have a safe space to hide. I had already moved my clothes into the wardrobe in my new bedroom and knowing my cats, this was going to be the most comfortable and familiar smelling place for them.

I have one cat who is a real trooper when it comes to moving – she is ready to explore straight away with no fear! But my stress kittys love a wardrobe they can hide away with mummy-smelling clothes.

Every cat is different and this is no exception when it comes to moving house. You may have a fearless cat like my eldest who’s not phased by anything.

You may have a cat who takes a little bit longer to explore and you may have one that for the first few days will only brave the new home under the cover of darkness.

8. Time and patience

The most important thing is to give them the time they need to feel comfortable in the new home.

During this period give them lots of reassurance that everything is ok, whether that’s through pats, cuddles, brushing, words or a combination.

Use whichever technique you know works for your cat in helping him to stay calm.

Allow your puss cat to explore your new home at their own space, always ensuring that they have access to their safe space should they feel scared.

9. Minimise noise

For as long as it takes for your puss cat to settle in and feel safe in your new home, try as much as possible to minimise noise. They will be extra sensitive right now and a noise that normally wouldn’t alarm them could cause them grief. They are learning all the new noises of the new home as well so it’s a good idea to minimise the impact on their senses and coincidentally, their nervous system!

10. Keep them inside

I am a strong proponent for keeping your cats inside (or at least secured on your property) at all times but this is even more important when you’ve just moved house. The last thing you want is for your scared kitty to wander away from your home and get himself lost, or worse.

My fearless kitty was anxious to go out in the courtyard on the first day but I made her wait until the next day.

When the cats were ready to explore outside, I only let them out supervised. I wanted to make sure there were no escape routes from the courtyard and so far, so good.

The level of supervision has decreased substantially in the week and a half since the move but I do still keep an eye on them – especially stress kitty who has a tendency for break outs!

If your new home has a yard, ensure it’s cat proof, whether by installing mesh or such other barricading or by erecting or buying an enclosure. Securing your cat to your property is one way to ensure a long life, away from the harms of the outside world eg cars, humans, dogs, snakes. It also means keeping the wildlife safe from your carnivorous furry friend.

So that’s it folks – they are my top ten tried and tested tips for minimising stress for your kitties when moving house. I’d love to know in the comments which of these tips you’ve tried and any other tips you’ve found to be imperative in keeping your kitty calm xx

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About Ruth

Ruth Hatten is a Holistic Animal Care Mentor with qualifications in animal naturopathy, pet nutrition and energy healing. She helps animals using holistic principles and natural remedies, including naturopathy, nutrition, plant medicine, energy and spirituality. Ruth believes that animals can thrive when they are supported in this way.​

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