Moving Out With Mittens. Should You Bring Your Cat to Your New Home?

Assess Your Cat’s Temperament

A cat’s temperament and personality can influence how well they handle moving to a new home. Cats tend to prefer consistency and can be stressed by change. If your cat is anxious or easily stressed, they may have more difficulty adjusting to a new environment.

Consider if your cat tends to hide or act skittish when strangers come over. Shy, fearful cats often adapt better in familiar environments that they know well. Highly social cats may transition easier to busier households or environments with more people traffic.

Gauge your cat’s adaptability by how they handled past changes like introducing a new family member or pet. Cats that have shown resilience to change in the past will likely adjust better when moving.

An older cat who is set in their ways may resist change more than a younger, more flexible cat. Kittens and younger cats tend to be more open to new experiences.

Pay attention to any signs of stress in your cat like excessive grooming, changes in appetite, or inappropriate urination which could indicate anxiety issues. If your cat already struggles with stress, moving may be especially challenging. Discuss options with your veterinarian to make the transition smoother.

Consider Your Living Situation

Before deciding to bring your cat with you during a move, you’ll need to carefully consider your new living situation and determine if it will be suitable for your feline companion. Here are some key factors to evaluate:

Will your new home allow pets? Be sure to check with your landlord or rental agency about their pet policies. Many apartments and rental homes have restrictions on pets, so this is an important first step. You may need to provide references, pay an additional deposit, or adhere to pet rules.

Is there enough space for your cat? Cats are active animals that need adequate room to roam, play, and explore their environment. According to sources like Purina and, cats need a minimum of around 18-20 square feet of living space. Think about the size of your new home and if it will accommodate your cat’s needs.

Does the layout work for a cat? Open floor plans with clear sightlines are ideal for cats. Make sure your new home doesn’t have too many small, enclosed spaces, which can limit your cat’s movement and make them feel trapped. Access to windows for birdwatching is also a plus.

As you evaluate new living situations, keep your cat’s well-being as the top priority. A space too small or restrictive can cause stress, anxiety, boredom and other issues for cats. Ensure your new home provides the space and features they need to stay happy and healthy after the move.

Evaluate the Moving Process

Long moves can be highly stressful for cats. It may be better to find a new home nearby, according to research outlined on the Comfort Zone website.

“Cats are territorial animals, and changes in their home can cause stress. Whether you’re moving with your cat across the country or moving nearby with lots of activity and unfamiliarity, the move itself will be stressful for most cats,” explains the Comfort Zone expert advice page on minimizing a cat’s moving stress.

Discuss sedation with your vet to ease anxiety during the move. Short-term anxiolytics may help keep your cat calm on moving day and the first few days in the new home, advises WebMD.

Prepare Your Cat for the Move

One of the most important things you can do is get your cat comfortable with the carrier and used to car rides before the big move. Leave the carrier out with the door open for a few weeks before the move so your cat can explore it and make it a familiar place. Put a treat or toy inside to encourage your cat to go in. Take your cat on short drives around the neighborhood to get them used to being in the car. According to the article “Moving with a Cat: Tips for Making it Less Stressful,” leaving the carrier out ahead of time and taking short drives can help reduce stress on moving day (

It’s also helpful to use synthetic pheromones, like Feliway, for 1-2 weeks leading up to the move. As noted in the WebMD article “Cats and Moving to a New Home,” pheromones can help relax cats and curb anxiety during a big transition (

Additionally, keep your cat’s routine as normal as possible before the move – feed them, play with them, and care for them at the same times each day. Consistency and predictability will help lower stress levels.

Set Up Your New Home for Your Cat

Have food, water, litter box, scratching posts, and toys set up right away. Familiar items will help your cat adjust ( Provide the same food, litter, and schedule your cat is used to so you don’t upset their stomach. Place the litter box in a quiet, low-traffic area. Make sure your cat has easy access to scratching posts to redirect scratching furniture.

Give your cat a safe, quiet room at first so they don’t feel overwhelmed ( This could be a spare bedroom or bathroom. Let them get used to the smells and sounds for a few days before giving them access to the whole place. Provide hiding spots like cardboard boxes and cat beds. Visit your cat in this room often so they don’t feel isolated.

Travel Safely

When traveling with your cat, it’s crucial to keep them safe and secure during the journey. Use a sturdy, well-ventilated carrier that allows your cat to stand up and turn around. Never let your cat roam loose in the car, as they can get underfoot and cause accidents. The carrier should be properly seat belted in or secured with a travel harness.

Include some familiar bedding and favorite toys in the carrier to help your cat feel more at ease. The scent of familiar items provides comfort. You can even rub an unwashed shirt or towel on your cat’s face, then place it in the carrier so your scent is present.

Never leave your cat alone in a parked car, even for a few minutes. The temperature can quickly become dangerously hot or cold, putting your cat at risk (1). Stop frequently on long trips to let your cat out of the carrier to stretch, eat, drink, and use the litter box.

Take all safety precautions to ensure your cat stays safe and secure throughout travels by car, plane, or any mode of transportation.

Help Your Caring For Your New Cat During the Transition Period

The adjustment period to a new home can be stressful for cats. There are several things you can do to make your cat feel more comfortable and ease their transition:

Spend extra time playing and interacting with your cat in the new home. Increased playtime and affection will help your cat associate the new home with you and positive experiences. Use interactive toys and play predator-prey games with your cat for exercise and bonding 1.

Stick to your cat’s normal routine for feeding, play time, etc. Maintaining their schedule will provide a sense of normalcy. Feed them in the same spots and play at the usual times to reassure your cat during this transitional period 2.

Use calming pheromones and treats to ease the transition. Pheromone diffusers or sprays designed for cats can promote relaxation in new environments. Offer encouraging treats as positive reinforcement when interacting in the new home.

Overall, be patient and allow your cat to adjust at their own pace. With time and positive associations, your cat can settle into their new home.

Monitor Your Cat Closely

It’s important to keep a close eye on your cat after moving to a new home. Look for any signs of stress or unusual behavior. As the ASPCA notes, “Cats exhibit stress in ways that may be different than what we expect. Instead of acting out, they may become withdrawn or irritable”

Note any changes in eating, litter box use, or behavior that could indicate stress. A stressed cat may hide more, lose interest in toys and activities, or stop grooming. Pay attention for escaping attempts – your cat may try to find the old home. According to Cats Protection, “Some cats will try anything to get back to their old territories after moving house…It’s not unusual for them to go missing for the first few days until they realise that this is now home.”

Weight loss, diarrhea, excessive vocalization, aggression, and inappropriate urination can also be signs of stress after a move. Monitor your cat closely and consult your vet if you have concerns about your cat’s health or behavior. With time and patience, your cat can adjust to the new location.

When to Rehome Your Cat

As difficult as it may be, there are some situations where rehoming your cat may be the best option:

If your cat shows extreme signs of distress or anxiety that medication cannot alleviate, rehoming should be considered. According to a Reddit post on r/CatAdvice, some cats experience severe separation anxiety and may stop eating, engage in destructive behaviors, or become inconsolable despite medication when moving to a new home ( In cases of extreme distress that cannot be managed, rehoming to a stable environment may be kindest.

Additionally, if behavior issues like litter box avoidance, aggression, and destruction persist in the new home, rehoming may need to be considered. As outlined on Mumsnet, consistent litter box avoidance can be a dealbreaker for some homeowners or landlords ( Likewise, aggression or destructive behaviors may make a cat unsuitable for certain living situations. If such behaviors do not resolve within a few months of moving, rehoming may be the best option.

The decision to rehome a cat should never be taken lightly. However, in situations where your cat seems profoundly unhappy or has unresolvable issues adjusting to the new home, rehoming to a safe and loving environment may be the most responsible choice.

Making the Decision

When deciding whether to move with your cat or leave them behind, it is important to consider your cat’s personality and your living situation carefully.

Some cats are more attached to their territory and routine than their owners. Anxious cats may become stressed and withdrawn in a new environment. On the other hand, cats that are strongly bonded with their owners may become depressed if left behind. Knowing your cat’s independence levels can help guide your decision.

Also evaluate if your new living situation is well-suited for a cat. Will you be able to meet their daily care needs? Is the new home cat-friendly with adequate space? Can you provide vertical territory like cat trees? If the move will significantly disrupt their routine or downgrade their environment, it may be kinder to rehome your cat.

If you do decide to move your cat, proper preparation can ease the transition. Purchase supplies like a cat carrier ahead of time. Get your cat comfortable with it through positive reinforcement training. Keeping familiar items like their bed can provide comfort in the new home. Reduce chaos on moving day by confining your cat to one room.

After moving, be patient and attend to your cat’s needs. Allow time for exploration and provide reassurance. Monitor their eating and litter box habits. Use calming aids like pheromone diffusers if they seem distressed. With time and care, most cats can adapt to a new home.

The key is assessing your individual situation honestly. Moving with a cat takes commitment but can be done smoothly. If challenges arise, consider rehoming rather than compromising your cat’s wellbeing.

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