Thursday, 4 February 2016

Moving house with your cat.


With Spring just around the corner, you may be moving to a new house. Here's some helpful advice to make the move a lot less stressful for you and your feline friend.....

On the move

Moving house can be a big deal for cats – much of their feeling of security and ability to relax comes from being surrounded by the familiar sights, sounds and scents of their own territory. It is also very stressful for humans too, so some thought and careful planning will ensure it’s a smooth move for everyone.

 Planning ahead

There are two options for moving day: booking your cat into a cattery or taking them with you as you move. Which one you choose depends on your own personal preference and your cat’s character, as every cat is different.

Booking your cat into a boarding cattery

If you book your cat into a boarding cattery for a few days, you won’t have to worry about them while you move. This may be the easiest solution for both of you, but you will need to organise it well in advance and make sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date prior to moving.



Keeping your cat with you

This option requires a bit more planning. What follows is just a guide and, as everyone’s circumstances are different, you may need to alter parts of it to fit your own situation and your cat’s character.

First, allocate a room in your home that can be cleared of furniture a week or two before the move. At the same time, decide on a room in the new home where you can put your cat when you get there. Ideally, both rooms should be out of the way so your cat can be left undisturbed for as much of the move as possible.

 About a week before the big day, start getting your cat used to ‘their’ room. Pop an additional sleeping place, litter tray, cat carrier and blanket in there. You could begin feeding them here too so they become really familiar with their ‘safe place’. On the evening before the move, move their scratching post, toys and water bowl into the room and shut them in to make sure they don’t go missing. If you have more than one cat, make sure they have separate resources if possible, to help prevent further stress or any toileting accidents. If you know your cats don’t enjoy each other’s company, it may be better to give them separate ‘safe rooms’. You could also use a synthetic form of facial pheromones, which are available from your vet. Feliway is available as a plug in diffuser or a spray. The scent helps to create a reassuring environment and may help to reduce stress.

Moving day

If you are taking your cat to a cattery, do this the day before if possible, so they are away from all the commotion. If they are staying at home, keep them in their room, feed them a small meal, make sure they have fresh water, clean the litter tray and shut the door. Once you are ready to leave, you can put them into their carrier and load them into the car along with all of their belongings. Your cat may be less anxious if the carrier is sprayed with the synthetic facial pheromones a few minutes before placing your cat in the carrier. If they are prone to travel sickness it is worth withholding food for three to four hours before the journey.

Once you have arrived at your new home, take them to their secure room with all their familiar bits and pieces. You might also like to give them something that smells of you, like an unwashed item of clothing, to help them settle. Provide them with something to eat, a box or something to hide in and make sure they have a litter tray. Then close the door and leave your cat alone for a while – tell the removal staff and the rest of the family which room your cat is in so they don’t disturb them or accidently let them out. You may also want to tack a sign on the door.

A helping hand

Talk to your vet about artificial pheromone products such as Feliway. When cats rub their faces around furniture, corners or doorways they are making themselves feel secure by marking their home territory. Artificial pheromone sprays and diffusers are available that mimic the scent from a cat’s facial glands, helping cats to feel more secure. You can get these artificial pheromones from the vet and use them in your cat’s new room to help them settle in. Alternatively, you can take a clean, unused cloth and wipe it around your cat’s face to pick up their own scents and then wipe this around the furniture at cat height.

Settling in

It is a good idea to keep your cat in their new room for a few days; it can be overwhelming to have access to the whole of the house straight away. Most cats will let you know when they are ready to venture further and it very much depends on your cat’s individual character. However, when you let them see the rest of the house, make sure that all doors, windows and cat flaps are closed – they’re not ready for the outside world yet! Make sure they always have access to their ‘safe room’ in case they feel the need to retreat.

 
 
Going outside

It’s important that your cat feels relaxed and secure in their new house before exploring the great outdoors. Some cats go missing shortly after moving house because owners have let their cats go outside too soon. These cats sometimes find their way back to their old houses. Cats should be kept indoors for at least three weeks to allow them time to regard the new house as a secure place and to build up a scent profile to help them find their way back.

When you do let them out:

do it just before a mealtime when they are hungry so you can call them back with their favourite food

open the door and step outside encouraging your cat to go with you

don’t pick them up – let them make the decision to go outside themselves

leave the door open so they can run back into the house if they feel insecure

only let them out for short periods at first – you can gradually build up the time they are out until you are confident they can come and go as they please

Before letting your cat out, make sure they are microchipped so if they wander off they can be traced easily. If they are already microchipped, don’t forget to change your address details on the central database when you move.
In the UK, you can update your cat’s registered details by contacting your existing UK database company, or Petlog – on 0844 4633 999 or via www.petlog.org.uk – or Anibase – on 01904 487 600 or via www.anibase.com.

Also, don’t forget to register with a new vet, who is likely to request your cat’s veterinary history from your previous practice. If your cat has existing health issues, you may wish to organise this before you move.
  

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