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How To Move With Cats (2024 Guide)

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Author Image Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 05/02/2024

Moving to a new home can be a whirlwind of excitement and stress—especially for feline family members. Many cats experience anxiety and digestive issues during major transitions, and there’s always the risk of a pet getting loose during the chaos.

Moving with a cat requires a few proactive steps and special supplies to make the move as safe and stress-free possible. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to move with a cat.

Planning To Move With Your Cats

Before you move, there are six steps you should take to ensure a safe move with your cat.

1. Introduce the Cat Carrier Early

Whether you plan to travel by plane or car to your new home, your cat should make the journey inside a carrier. If you have multiple cats, each cat should have its own space. That could mean a separate carrier for each cat or a carrier with multiple compartments. For cats that get along well, a carrier with multiple compartments may provide some comfort; for those that don’t, stick with separate carriers.

Several weeks before your move, start introducing your cat to its carrier by leaving it out and open in a common area where your cat spends its time. Add some treats, a favorite toy, or a soft blanket to entice your cat to explore it. The goal is to get your cat to enter the carrier of its own accord and gradually increase the time it spends inside.


2. Update Records and Documentation

At some point before your move, you should update your cat’s microchip information with your new address and phone number. This is an essential step in case your cat gets lost during the transition. If your cat is not already microchipped, now is a good time to invest. Some pet insurance companies will even cover microchipping as a preventive service. Affix a temporary tag to your cat’s collar with your contact information for extra security. 

Take photos of your cat from multiple angles and gather all essential records, such as vaccination history. Keep these handy during your move in case you need to identify or search for your cat.

Consider scheduling a vet appointment to discuss the move with your vet and get their recommendations for moving day. If your cat requires prescription medication, get a refill before moving.

3. Designate a Cat-Safe Space for Packing and Unpacking

Designate a cat-safe room in your home to ensure that your cat doesn’t escape while you’re busy loading the moving truck. Label this room with a brightly colored piece of paper advising movers and family members to keep the door shut. Stock it with all the essentials, including a water bowl, cat food, a litter box, a cat bed or cat home, and a few toys.

If possible, designate one person to hang out in the room throughout the day to keep the cat inside and away from the rest of the house. A little playtime and company will reduce your cat’s stress during the chaos of moving.

4. Help Ease Your Cat’s Anxiety on Moving Day

Stressful events can cause digestive issues for your cat, and moving house definitely qualifies. Feeding your cat a smaller meal on moving day will reduce the likelihood of tummy troubles. 

Pheromone diffusers or sprays, such as Feliway, can help ease your cat’s anxiety. The scent of these products mimics natural feline facial pheromones, making your cat feel more secure and less anxious. Your vet may also prescribe a mild sedative or have other recommendations for reducing anxiety, especially if your cat tends to meow in a loud or incessant manner during car rides.

5. Prepare Cat-Friendly Travel

Traveling with your feline friend requires more planning and preparation than a normal trip. If you are relocating long-distance, you should plan each phase of the trip in advance.

The dropdown sections below explain each step of the process.

Staying at a Hotel With Your Cats

Before booking a hotel room, confirm that the hotel is pet-friendly. Some hotels have specific rooms set aside for guests with pets. Ask about any additional fees or deposits required and any rules you need to follow.

Driving With Cats

When driving, keep your cat inside its carrier. Letting your cat roam freely can be distracting and dangerous. Place the carrier on a seat and secure it with a seat belt to keep it from moving around. Make regular stops to allow your feline friend to move around, eat, drink, and use its litter box. Several companies make travel litter trays that you can zip up when you’re not using them, and you can throw them away after your trip.

Flying With Cats

If you are flying, contact the airline in advance and ask about their pet transportation guidelines. Use an airline-approved cat carrier and label it with your new address and phone number. You can bring most cats aboard as a carry-on if their carriers meet airline requirements.

Alternatively, you can make arrangements to ship your pet as cargo. If you have concerns about this option, we recommend discussing them with your vet and the airline. Some airlines and moving companies offer pet shipping services, or you can hire a dedicated pet shipping company, such as Air Animal Pet Movers or Starwood Animal Transport.

6. Introduce Your Cat to Its New Home

When you arrive at your new house, start by placing your cat in a designated safe room with essentials—just like you did when moving out of your old home. Keep your furry friend confined to this new room for a few days while you unpack and pet-proof your home. Then, gradually introduce them to the rest of the house. Monitor your cat’s behavior throughout the process, give them lots of extra attention, and return to your normal routine as soon as possible.

You should keep outdoor cats inside for at least two weeks before allowing them outside. Make sure the first time it goes outside, it is during the daytime and on a leash, if possible. Cats are territorial and may try to return to their old home, so it’s important to supervise them as they explore their new environment.

Our Conclusion

You can take several steps to reduce stress for you and your cat before, during, and after your move. Start by acclimating your cat to a carrier and updating its microchip information. Then, focus on creating a cat-safe space and booking pet-friendly travel. A structured approach incorporating familiar objects, routines, and gradual changes will help ensure a smooth transition.

FAQ About Moving With Cats

How do you move a cat long-distance?

You can move a cat long-distance in the car or by plane. In either case, it needs to be in a carrier. You can also hire a pet shipping company to handle the logistics of transporting your cat to your new home.

How long does it take for a cat to get used to a new home?

It can take a cat anywhere from a few weeks to several months to get used to a new home, depending on how many cats you have and their individual temperaments. You can help by acclimating your cat to a single room first, then introducing it to the rest of the house over time.

What should I do to prepare my cat for a move?

To prepare your cat for a move, you should acclimate it to its carrier and update its microchip information or tags. Stick to your normal routine as much as possible, set up a safe room during the packing process, and feed it a smaller meal on moving day.

How do I get my cat to be more calm when I move?

You can get your cat to be more calm when you move by getting it used to its carrier and car rides beforehand. You can also use pheromone sprays, familiar objects, and prescription medication to reduce anxiety.

Is it safe for cats to fly on a plane?

Yes, it is safe for cats to fly on a plane. Most airlines will even allow them to ride in the cabin as long as they stay in airline-approved carriers for the duration of the flight. If your cat must travel in a cargo area, make sure the area is temperature-controlled and pressurized.

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