How can I settle my cat into our new home?

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Cat behaviour expert Kim Houston offers some tips on how to help your cat settle in to your new home after moving house...

Q) We have recently moved to a new house five miles away and my cat hasn’t settled in well and keeps trying to find her way back to our old house. What can I do to help her settle in better?

Charlotte Bradshaw

KIM SAYS: Cats are very territorial animals and they may have problems accepting a new house as their home. If the old house is nearby, cats may return to their old haunts and try to take up residence with the new people living there. If the move is further away, cats may just wander off and get lost in their search for their previous home. It sounds as though your little girl has not sufficiently established a bond with your new home and therefore has a strong urge to return to her pervious territory. In the first instance, I would advise that you keep her indoors for 3 — 4 weeks in order to help her to view your new home as her territory.

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Although it might be necessary to let more time elapse before she is allowed to roam freely outside; the longer she spends within her new environment, the stronger her attachment will be. You can help to facilitate this process by manually putting your cat’s scent around the home, which will make her think that she has facially rubbed areas of the home, which will help her become more comfortable with the environment. To do this, take a soft cloth and gently rub it around her jawline to collect her facial pheromones. Then, rub the cloth around your home — at cat height — paying particular attention to prominent objects, doors frames, and anywhere else that she would naturally mark herself.

When you feel that your cat looks happy and relaxed inside your home, then you can start to let her out again, but do this when she is hungry. For the first two weeks she should only be let out once a day and be called in after no longer than 30 minutes and fed immediately. A word of caution: it is important that she is microchipped so if she does venture off and gets lost, she can be returned to you. If she is already chipped, remember to inform the registering company of your change of address and phone number.