Preparing your cat to move house


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If you're about to move house with your cat, follow behaviourist Jon Bowen's advice.

If you're about to move house with your cat, follow behaviourist Jon Bowen's advice on how to keep your cat's stress to a minimum.

Jon says: While you cannot reduce stress to zero, you can certainly reduce it a lot. There are three main areas to tackle: the cat carrier, the journey and the destination. Many cats show acute stress and fear when we get the carrier out because they know that it is linked with something nasty, like a trip to the vets.

Start by leaving the carrier out for at least two weeks before the move. Place it in a spot where your cat usually rests, put some comfy bedding inside the carrier, cover it over with a towel to disguise its appearance, and regularly put treats inside for your cat to find. We want the cat to feel comfortable inside the carrier long before the day of the move.

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Before transporting your cat, set up a room in the new house where your cat can be left undisturbed while you move your belongings. The room does not need to be large, but make sure that there are places for the cat to rest, climb and hide, as well as providing food, water and litter trays. Install a feline pheromone diffuser a couple of hours before the cats arrive, if this is possible. On the day of the move, take your cat in the car you usually use, rather than in a removal van that will be noisy and unfamiliar to the cat.

As soon as you arrive, put the carrier in the specially set-up cat room, open it up and sit in there for a while with your cats in a calm and quiet manner. Don't try to interact with your cat too much; let him find his own feet. The cat should stay in this one room until he appears to be completely relaxed and at ease. If there are any signs that the cat is 'wide-eyed', alert or easily unnerved then he is not ready to be allowed into the rest of the house. Be prepared for this acclimatisation to take several days before allowing access to the rest of the house.