Moving or Traveling with your Cat
By Suzanne Denk, Dip.FBST
Cats may not be as enthusiastic as dogs about going for a car ride, but there are steps you can take to help your cat when traveling or moving to a new home is necessary. The first step is to acclimate your cat to a carrier so that they will be comfortable. For step-by-step instructions on how to make getting into the cat carrier a stress-free experience for both you and your feline friend, you can refer to the spring edition of Petsburgh Magazine at ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/Petsburgh.
Before your trip, make sure that your cat is microchipped and is wearing a collar with identification and your phone number. You may also talk to your vet about potential medications which may help with stress and travel.
- Vaccination records
- Photos of your cat
- Small litter box (disposable aluminum foil pans from the grocery store work great!)
- Plastic bags and a scoop for litter box cleanup
- Extra towels
- Water in a storage bowl with a lid
When you need to travel a long distance, you may use a cat carrier or consider using a small wire dog crate so that your cat can have a small litter box available. Cover the carrier or crate with a towel to provide extra comfort and security for your cat. A calming pheromone scent may also be sprayed in the carrier. Be sure to feed your cat about four hours before departure so that they can use the litter box and be comfortable. Most importantly, never leave your cat alone in the car!
If you are moving to a new home, planning ahead for your cat will help decrease their stress. Before moving day, allow them to investigate all of the interesting moving boxes as you pack things up. An empty box is fun for cats! Do not wash their bed so that they can move to the new home with familiar scents on them.
On moving day, keep their routine as much as possible for play time and meals. Designate a single room for your cat to stay in and make sure it is the last room that will be loaded onto the moving truck. Although there will be noise from packing and moving, the space is familiar to your cat and it will decrease the amount of time they will be in the carrier and in transit. Place a sign on the door so the movers know there is a kitty in the room!
At your new home, have a room for your cat to settle in with familiar things like their bed, scratching post, food, water, toys and litter box. You should move your cat directly to this room from the old home so that they can acclimate before exploring the entire house. Cats do not like change and can be overwhelmed in a new space and after travel, so let them out only once they are comfortable – no matter how long that may take. Place additional litter boxes, familiar toys and beds throughout the house so your cat will be able to find them when they explore the new home.
With a little bit of time and patience (and you, of course!) your cat will feel at home in no time. For more helpful behavior tips and advice, visit ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/Behavior.