Cats vs. Dogs: Why Moving with a Cat is Such a Struggle

Cats vs. Dogs: Why Moving with a Cat is Such a Struggle

While moving with pets is always stressful, moving with cats presents some additional difficulties.

One reason for this? Cats get really attached to their environment, according to Forrest Wheatey of Fantastic Removals. “So when you move house, you don't just bring them along, you are taking them away from their home and their life,” Wheatey explains. “Their hiding places, their favorite spot to chill, everything is taken away.” There are many ways to reduce stress, and you can even start strategies for reducing your cat's stress weeks before a move. Here are a few tips to get started.

Keep Cats Away From the Movers

Cats are masters at sneaking away through the smallest openings—and the last thing you want to worry about when the movers arrive is where the cat might be. A good way to keep him safe is to lock him in a room the movers won't access, with a “Do not enter” sign taped to the door. Next step: let the movers know there's a pet in the room and not to knock or try to enter the room. Locking cats away is also a good idea because most cats don't have a trusting nature and new people scare them, according to Wheatey. “Also, the removals are taking away all of the furniture—something the cat believes is theirs,” Wheatey says. “Locking the cat in a separate room is good for both sides: the cat will remain calmer and it won't bother the removals while they do their job.”

When Moving Time Arrives

While you might need to pack away your cat's biggest belongings (such as his cat tree), keep smaller items around so he doesn't feel too disrupted. Smaller toys, bowls and even a favorite blanket can easily fit into a small bag you can carry with you at the last minute. “Try to keep their habitat untouched as much as the packing allows you to,” Wheatey says. If at all possible, don't feed cats before a trip to avoid tummy trouble. If the trip is longer than 6-7 hours, Wheatey suggests feeding him but sticking to dry food, as this is easier on the stomach. Cats can be unpredictable, especially in unknown spaces, so don't let your cat out of his carrier if the car windows or doors are open. “If he is scared or this is his first time, don't risk it,” Wheatey says. “Keep her in the carrier but show her you are there, talk to her or play with her.” To make the ride more comfortable, consider getting a large carrier so you can fit a litter box inside.

New Home, New Life

Once you get to your new home, Wheatey suggests making the cat's room (or the room he will spend most of the time) first and arrange things (toys, bed, food and water bowls, etc.). While dogs can be distracted with treats and walks around the neighborhood, cats are more likely to be stressed about their new surrounding—which is why keeping them in a small space for a while can help. “Place them in a room you won't be unpacking and let them study their new surrounding in peace,” Wheatey says. “It is a big shock for them, so patience and calmness are key factors.” And don't forget to change the name and address tags of your pets when you relocate. “In the rush, anything can happen and if you lose your pet, this will be quite helpful to find it faster,” says Wheatey.

Diana Bocco

Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and avid adventurer. She's gone hiking in Siberia, snorkeling in Thailand, and canoeing in the Mekong River. She also loves caves and has been known to get lost in one or five around the world. Diana's work has been published in the Discovery Channel website, Yahoo!, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can read more of her work on her website at
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