Cats don’t like change so moving to a new environment can be quite stressful. By considering all aspects of the move you will reduce the risks of adverse behaviour such as house soiling, vocalisation, hiding, escapes or aggression. This is particularly important if there are other animals in the house that must adjust to the new addition.
- To help with a smooth transition it is best to have all the essentials pre purchased i.e. litter tray and litter, food and bowls, bedding and some toys. Other items include collars, scratching posts and enrichment toys.
- Check with the vet (or place of purchase) what food you should be getting to ensure you don’t change suddenly and upset their stomach.
Transporting the cat/kitten
- Use pheromone spray if possible (sprayed on a towel over the carrier) to help calm and reassure them during the car ride.
- Ensure you are using an escape-proof carrier that is easy to open/close.
- Place the carrier on the back seat of the car (you may wish to loop it through the seatbelt) so they are secured and not distracting.
- Don’t open the carrier during the car ride even if they are vocal. This could be dangerously distracting.
Settling them in
- Before you let them out of the carrier ensure your house is cat-proof. Tuck away electrical cords, close escape routes, make sure windows are closed, check for pest traps or baits and that no poisonous plants are present.
- Once you’ve arrived home, place the carrier in a closed off room with no other pets present. Ensure the room is escape proof and relatively quiet. Place your cat’s food and water dishes in one corner (filled) and the litter tray in another. A snuggly bed or hidey hole may also be provided.
- Open the carrier door and allow them to come out in their own time.
- Let them explore the room. You may wish to leave a few treats around for them to discover.
- Keep them in this room for the first few days. This will ensure they have easy access to their litter and meals and aren’t overwhelmed by a big house or other pets.
- Let them smell other pets through or under doors but don’t force face-to-face interactions, this will likely result in them being scared and responding with aggression or attempts to escape.
- If no other pets are present, after a few days open the doors to the room and allow them to explore the remainder of the house in their own time. Supervise them initially to ensure they are safe. You may wish to provide a second litter tray in another spot. If you do choose to move the original litter tray do so gradually, a few metres a day so as not to confuse them.
- If dogs are present, introduce them slowly with the dog on lead and always make sure the cat/kitten has an escape route (e.g. a high shelf) if they feel threatened. If the dog reacts calmly and positively and the cat appears to accept their new friend try allowing them to interact with no restraint but with a clear/easy escape route for the cat/kitten available at all times.
- If other cats are present, introduce them slowly giving each cat plenty of space to escape or hide if they feel threatened. If they react negatively, separate them and try again in a few days. We strongly recommend the use of a Feliway pheromone diffuser in the main room of introduction to help calm and reassure both cats.
- Note hissing is a normal response for a cat meeting a new dog or cat friend and is a warning that they feel scared or threatened. If they are pushed further they may strike with their claws or bite.
- Please note mild diarrhoea is common in cats settling into new homes as a result of stress and changes in diet. Be sure to stick to the food recommended by your vet or breeder and perform any changes in diet very gradually. Probiotics are available over the counter for mild diarrhoea cases and vet assistance should be sought if it continues longer than 48 hours.
- We ideally recommend keeping your cat indoors all the time. This is to avoid roaming, hunting, cat fights and trauma. In a nutshell they will live longer, be healthier and cost less.
- If this isn’t possible you may start allowing your cat outdoor access. We would suggest not doing this for the first month or two (or until they are desexed).
- Start by only letting them out between dawn and dusk (i.e. when it’s light). Allow them to walk out themselves and supervise their movements for the first few days.
- If they do have unrestricted outdoor access be sure to speak to your vet about their parasitic prevention and double check their microchipping details are up-to-date.
- You may wish to provide an outdoor escape-proof area. This is a great option and can in most cases be done simply. If you’re not into DIY, companies such as Catnet or Catmax will sort it all for you and provide a fun, secure area for your pet to get some sunshine.
- Take your cat for a walk! Some cats really enjoy a walk on a harness and leash.
- If your cat is struggling with the adjustment of indoor living, speak to your vet. They should be able to give you some pointers on how to make the transition easier.