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Moving to a new apartment is something that fills us with strong emotions. Whether that be excitement for the new house or resentment for leaving the old one. We can uproot and leave a familiar environment behind us without any damage to our psyche
However, the reverse is the case for cats. Moving cats to a new home triggers very strong emotions that can cause lasting personality change weeks, months, and even years after the move.
So what’s the correct way to move cats to a new apartment ?
In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to move cats to a new abode. And how to get a cat settled after moving to avoid personality changes afterward.
First off, why do cats’ personalities change after moving to a new home?
A simple explanation for why cats’ personality changes after moving to a new home.
A cat’s reality is strongly tethered to its environment.
They hate change, even if it’s for their benefit. For instance, cats are cautious of drinking from a quiet water fountain, even if it’ll get their hydration level up.
Something as simple as moving a food dish, play toy, or switching to a different brand of food will earn you a cold shoulder. They thrive on familiarity and their territorial nature makes them resist changes to their routine.
Imagine what it’s like to wake up in a different country or city – that’s how cats feel.
After a major move, your pet’s anxiety level can shoot through the roof. This will manifest as excessive meowing after a move, your cool cat becomes aggressive after moving. Or she’ll escape and, with little probability of success, try to return to the familiar environment she was uprooted from.
The good news is; you can minimize stress in your cat when moving to a new home. It might take some time and effort. However, by following the tips below you and your cat can have a stress-free move to a new apartment.
How to move cats without complications in 3 steps.
Moving cats between homes involve making the transition as smooth as possible. With these three basic steps: the pre-move, the actual move itself, and getting your cat settled. All three steps will help cats or any other residential pets to get used to a new crib.
What to do before moving cats between homes.
Make your cat comfortable in her carrier.
Depending on how far your new space is, your cat will spend most of the journey in her carrier or crate. Make sure that your cat is very calm and comfortable.
You probably know your cat’s temperament and response to being in a carrier from your vet visits. If your feline friend has a strong dislike for the carrier, try to ease that dislike a bit by using FeliWay Multicat or any other vet-recommended natural pheromone spray.
Encourage your cat to enter the carrier by leaving the door open in your cat’s favorite room. Let them explore at their own pace by placing treats and meal bowls at the entrance of the carrier. Gradually push the meal bowl or treat further inside until your cat starts to associate the carrier with positive feelings.
If your cat is really paranoid around the carrier, you’ll have to start several weeks before moving with the cat. The goal is to make your cat move in and out of the carrier comfortably on their own. Such that she associates the carrier with positive stuff such as treats, meals, and toys.
Play with moving boxes.
Even though they are cautious little creatures, cats love to explore their environment. The smell of the cardboard boxes is exciting to them. And that’s a big plus for you if your cat’s curiosity leads her to hide in the box.
Before moving with a cat to a new flat, open some boxes so your cat can explore the box. This way, she’ll familiarize herself with the smell of the box, which will help keep her calm in the new house.
Some timid cats may avoid the box completely or hide from it. This is because they are not familiar with the strong smell of the boxes. You can encourage them to get comfortable exploring the box the same way you did with the carrier.
Preserve routines when moving Cats to a new apartment.
The last thing you want is to worry about how to raise appetite in a cat or dealing with sudden unprovoked aggression in a cat after moving between homes. Trust me on this one, it’s not fun!
So make sure you preserve your cat’s routine when moving between homes. Else the change in routine, unfamiliar territory and the stress of the journey can cause lasting personality changes in a cat after moving.
Ensure that play and mealtime, toys, cuddles, and their quiet water fountain are as they used to be. Or, at the very least, close enough to what they had before moving to this new home.
Discuss with your vet.
Just like humans, cats have varying personalities and temperaments. Some cats are naturally very skittish, nervous, or easily stressed-out. If your feline friend is prone to these emotions, speak to your vet about ways you can manage it before moving with the cat.
There are many products designed to help ease these emotions in cats, including prescription diets, supplements, calming aids, and anti-anxiety meds.
These coupled with the anxiety-easy tips listed above, can go a long way in reducing your cat’s stress response to moving between homes.
Preparing cats for moving between homes starts long before the moving van arrives. This part of the process is usually easy since your cat is still in a familiar environment and is likely to be curious instead of stressed over what is going on
These early steps are very important and will help acclimatize your cats to the nuance of moving between homes. When the D-day arrives, she’s better prepared to handle it.
What to do when moving cats to a new home.
Your main priority on the day of moving is to keep your cat safe, secure, and stress-free. Though there are things you can do that will help minimize stress in your cat, you have to accept that this will be a stress- and anxiety-ridden day for your cat.
It is not easy to stay calm when your world, as you know it, is falling apart. Here are some often forgotten details that can help make the day less stressful for your cat.
Feed your cat a small meal.
Anxiety and stress don’t just stay in the head alone; it courses through the body – including the stomach. Your cat is likely to vomit or experience a stomach upset if you feed it a big meal on the day you’re moving between homes. More so if your cat often gets motion sickness when taking a trip in the car to the vet’s.
Keep your cat contained.
While loading the moving truck, you’ll be opening and closing the front door a lot. The last thing you want is your cat to run out of the apartment due to all the noise going on. Keep your cat in a safe place she can’t escape from, especially if you’re the people moving your stuff to are unfamiliar.
You can restrict your cat to one room. Label the room so nobody opens the door without permission. You don’t have to put your cat in her carrier before the truck is ready to move. Your mind will be at rest, knowing that your cat is safe and will not bolt out of the front door.
Load the carrier last.
Load your cat in her carrier just when you’re about hitting the road. Cats get quite frustrated and stressed, especially if their movement is restricted to sitting in a carrier for too long.
Even if your cat doesn’t seem excited in the carrier, resist the urge to let them out or open up the carrier to soothe them. A frightened cat may dash for the nearest window. That’s a distraction that can slow you down or, worse, cause an accident.
If you have to open the carrier, do so in a secure environment. One she can’t escape from and, preferably, when the truck is stationary so the driver isn’t distracted.
Always maintain a calm demeanor when interacting with your cat while on the road. Remember, animals are experts at picking up our anxiety and concerns.
How to get a cat settled after moving into an apartment.
Tuck your cat someplace safe.
When you arrive at the new house, immediately tuck your cat somewhere safe and free from disturbance, such as the bathroom or a spare room. Before letting your cat out of the carrier, set up water and food bowls, bed, scratch post, and litter box. Some cats may drink less than they normally do, so if your cat doesn’t have a water fountain, now is the time to get the best quiet water fountain to prevent dehydration.
Let your cat stay in this room until all the unpacking is complete. This way, your cat has time to settle and establish herself in the ‘safe room’ without being overwhelmed with all the sight, sounds, and new smell all over the place.
Cat-proof the house.
Now that the tucked away somewhere safe in the new house, make sure the house is cat-proof before letting your cat out of the safe place. Hide all electric cords, close windows, remove toxic apartment plants, and make sure there are no traps left behind by the previous occupants of the apartment.
When you’re done packing, let the cat explore the new place but one room per day – stretch it out if your cat is hesitant to explore the new place. Make sure every door leading outside the apartment is locked for now – at least until your cat has accepted the new crib as her territory. And also get rid of toxic plants and food. If you need help figuring out which human food isn’t safe for cats check this article on what human food is safe for stray cats – the idea is the same.
Though this is not directly related to cat-proofing the house, you should ensure that your cat’s tag and chip are updated with the new address and number. If your cat manages to bolt out of the apartment (which you should prevent from happening), you’ll have a higher chance of getting her back.
This should have been among the first things you did when you got the new place, however, the second-best time to do so is now!
Cats have a very powerful sense of smell. You want to get rid of all odors in the house, especially pheromones left by the previous occupant’s pet – that’s if they had one.
Vacuum every inch of the house, especially carpets. The last thing you want is for your cat to inherit a flea infestation left by the previous pet. Trust me, dealing with a stubborn flea infestation isn’t a walk in the park.
Counters, sinks, and other surfaces should be wiped with Clorox to get rid of bacteria. Wash everything washable that might have a lingering smell. These can make your cat feel anxious and tense as if she’s intruding in another’s territory.
Make provisions for a second or third litter box.
Once your cat is comfortable in the ‘safe room’ provide her a second litter box. Make sure to space it a bit from the one in her room. When your cat starts using the new litter box, gradually adjust its position to the permanent location it’ll be.
If you have more than one cat, you may need to provide several litter boxes and take things slow. This way, you’ll prevent them from fighting over the previous litter box that’s in a familiar location.
Gradually introduce your cat to her new home.
Sight changes are often unsettling for cats because they are attached to their surroundings – it’s how they get their bearing.
The best way to get a cat settled in a new crib is to slowly introduce her to new rooms. Then watch her reaction. If she is frightened or hesitant to explore, then return to the safe room or one she’s comfortable in.
Do not push your cat or coerce her to explore, the last thing you want is for her to associate the new house with panic. If your cat chooses to hide under the bed, let her be. She’ll come out when she feels safe and unthreatened.
Here’s a simple tip that will help you get a cat settled quickly in a new apartment: Surround them with things that smell familiar.
Place your old sweatshirt, shoes, her toys, or any other thing that smells familiar. You should also do this in the room you want her to explore. Cats have a really good sense of smell, perceiving familiar scents will give your cat a confidence boost to explore.
Put your cat at ease with pheromones and natural products.
One of the all-time favorites of cat owners is FeliWay Multi Cat. Another good alternative is Bach’s Rescue Remedy. Both products contained a synthesized version of the pheromones that are released by the skin on your cat’s chin and face. Cats mark its territory by rubbing her face on items around the apartment – now you understand why your cat rubs her face all over your legs.
Feel free to spray the calming diffuser on the cat’s carrier before moving to help her stay calm. Spray it around her ‘safe room’ in the new apartment and some in the room you want her to explore. Do this until your cat starts rubbing her face on objects around the house by herself.
When should you call a vet?
If your cat hasn’t settled in after some weeks of moving into the new house, talk to your vet. He/she will offer possible solutions to minimize lasting personality changes that often come after moving to a new flat.
Hopefully, being loving and aware of what your cat is going through will help reduce the stress cats experience when moving between homes.
Moving a cat between homes is often stressful for everyone involved. By taking the time to properly plan your move, you can alleviate stress in your cat and the two-legged members of your team.
If your cat is still frightened or anxious after 14 days, then you should contact a vet or animal behavior expert to help you out.
Remember to invite me to the housewarming party!