Bohemia Blog by Agent Christine Scharf
Moving is a stressful experience for people, but it can actually be twice as stressful for our feline friends. Cats are territorial animals and use scent glands on their paws and face to mark their territory. They are hardwired to feel comfort in their own territory around familiar smells and fear in new environments with foreign smells. For your cat, a new apartment is like approaching the unknown horrors of the Hunger Games arena. Here are 5 tips to help ease the transition and prevent unnecessary stress for you and your cat.
1) Turn your Cat Carrier into a Sanctuary
A few days to a week before you move - Place your cat carrier in a sunny quiet spot where your cat can investigate it and begin to see it as a nice safe place (and not just the dreaded vessel that transports him to the vet.) Place a t-shirt or pillowcase that smells like you inside the carrier along with a few favorite toys. Feeding your cat near or in the open carrier will also help your cat associate the carrier with good things. Try spraying Feliway or Comfort Zone, a synthetic feline facial pheromone spray in the carrier or use a plug-in diffuser nearby. Both can be purchased on Amazon or at your local pet store.
2) Make a Cat Sanctuary of your Bathroom
Moving Day - Before the movers arrive, place your cat and cat carrier in the bathroom with Feliway, food, water, and a small travel litter box. Post a sign on the door indicating that the cat is inside and the door must remain shut. Feed your cat a small meal on moving day in order to reduce the risk of stomach upset or motion sickness. After the furniture has been loaded and the apartment is quiet, place your cat securely inside the carrier and then directly into the comfortable temperature controlled car or cab. While in transit, resist the urge to comfort your cat by opening the carrier to pet him. A panicked cat could try to escape. Instead, try speaking in a calm soothing tone.
3) Cat Proof your New Apartment
Make sure that all your window screens are secure and confirm that there aren't any poisonous plants or pest control poison traps anywhere in the apartment.
4) Make a Cat Sanctuary of your New Bathroom or Other Small Room
When you arrive at your new apartment, place your cat and cat carrier in either your new bathroom or another small quiet room with Feliway (spray or diffuser), food, water and a small travel litter box. If possible, have a family member sit with the cat while it explores the new room. Keep your cat in this "home base" for the first 3-4 days, so he can start to get familiar with the new sights, sounds, and smells of the environment without getting overwhelmed. Make sure to visit your cat's sanctuary room regularly during this transitional time. Your cat will find your company very comforting.
5) Settling your Cat into your New Apartment
When the bulk of the unpacking is complete, you can begin to give your cat access to the rest of the apartment one room at a time. Close doors to control access or closely supervise the cat if that is not possible. Position the permanent litter box wherever its place will be, but keep the small travel littler box in the sanctuary room for a week or two incase your cat becomes lost or frightened.
Taking the time to properly transition your cat to their new home is incredibly important in order to prevent a host of undesirable behavior problems that can result from the stress and fear of moving. These simple procedures will ensure that you and your cat start out on the right foot, so you can both enjoy your new pet friendly apartment.
Source: ASPCA & Cat Behavior Associates