How to Move with a Cat
Happy autumn, Dr. Catsby readers! Since I’m a New England girl, and Jade has such long, fluffy fur, we both get a lift at the first nip in the air in September. This fall is particularly exciting for us because we’re moving from upstate New York to Brooklyn.
As I’ve mentioned on the blog, Jade is a New York City girl. I’m sure if she knew where we were going, she’d be as excited as I am. Or at least she’d be cool with it provided I keep the food coming. Unfortunately, our conversations are limited. I can understand when she says, “feed me,” “clean out my litterbox,” “you’re crying, so I’m going to rub my face on you now,” “pet me,” and “stop petting me.” I’m pretty sure she can understand when I say, “get off the table,” “you are a huntress,” “I’m making tuna salad, do you want some?” And, “I love you.”
She can’t understand when I say, “We’re moving to Bed Stuy! I’m not abandoning you – I’ll always take care of you. There will be space for you to zip around and play, and your friend Leila will live with us. Even though things will change, you don’t have to worry.” If I could just say that to her, this would all be a lot easier. But, since we can’t make our cats understand what’s going on, we just have to do the best we can to make the change as easy as possible.
So, how do you move with a cat?
Have a plan.
You know your cat better than anyone, so you know what stresses him out. Think that through and plan accordingly. Maybe your cat does fine in a carrier and is used to staying with a boarder when you go on a trip. If that’s the case, you might consider a “cat hotel” service for a few days so you can bring your kitty to the new home once the furniture is in place. Maybe your kitty’s biggest comfort is being by your side, and it’d be stressful for her to be away from you.
Keep the chaos to a minimum.
It might stress kitty out to watch the house get torn apart with packing or enter into a new space with boxes and furniture all over the place. When Jade and I move, she stays in one familiar room that is still relatively the same until just before we have to leave. When we get to the new place, I bring her right into the bedroom with my familiar bed, her food and water, and the litter box. She doesn’t check out the rest of the place until it’s relatively set up.
Get your cat comfortable with the carrier.
Leave the carrier out and open in the days before the big move. Put kitty’s favorite treats inside, or maybe some catnip. Let him climb in and out freely and get comfortable with being inside the carrier. That way, he’s more likely to climb right in on the day of the move. Minimizing carrier stress is a great foundation for a calm moving day.
Consider a medication or supplement.
Especially if you’re traveling a long distance, it might be worthwhile to give your cat some, medication to make her calm or sleepy. Talk to your vet’s office. They might prescribe a cat-friendly dose of Benadryl (it’s what us humans take for allergies, and makes both people and cats sleepy). If you want something gentler, there are herbal supplements designed to calm cats down without drugging them.
Comfort your kitty freely!
Your cat knows and trusts you. Even if she doesn’t know what’s going on, your presence is reassuring. When I’ve loaded up Jade into her carrier next week and she starts to worry, I won’t be able to help myself – I’m going to tell her what’s happening and that everything is okay. While she won’t understand the content of my words, she’ll understand my reassuring tone. Cats can pick up on your mood. Even if they don’t know what you’re saying, they’ll feel comforted if you talk to them.
How do you move with your cat?
Have you ever moved with your cat? Do you know a different tip I didn’t cover here that works great? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hannah and Jade