Moving House with a Cat – The Complete Guide

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Moving house with a cat - a calico cat pokes her head out of a box

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Moving house with a cat is often a big worry for the poor owner. Will the cat get lost in the new territory? Will s/he try to make his/her way home to the old house? How will we transport the cat over long distances? Shall I keep the cat inside? These are questions you’re probably asking yourself as a cat owner.

Don’t worry, although moving house is stressful, moving your cat(s) should be simple and straightforward. This article is here to help you.

You will learn:

  • How to safely transport your cat to your new home
  • When to allow your cat outside after you’ve moved house
  • How to protect your cat from becoming distressed, getting lost or scared

Moving House with a Cat

Moving House with a Cat - The Ultimate Guide to move and transport your cat safely
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Moving house is a very stressful time, with or without pets! Having a cat to worry about is an added stress. By careful planning and understanding your cat’s behavior, you can make the process of moving house with your cat stress-free!


Make a Plan for Moving House with your Cat(s)

Decide upon a plan for moving your cat. In my experience, it’s best to ensure the cats are out of the way when large items of furniture are being carried in and out of the house. The doors are wide open, a prime opportunity for your cat to sneak out and hide somewhere.

If you can, temporarily confine your cat(s) to one room for the ‘heavy duty’ moving of large items, furniture, etc. This reduces the risk of them getting in the way, if they’re inquisitive, or running off, if they’re scared.

Put their food, bedding, scratch post and their litter tray in the room. By keeping them away from the chaos of moving, they’ll be less stressed for their move. However, as you know, cats don’t like being restricted by closed doors! If your cats get agitated by being in a closed room, get someone to join them to keep them occupied!

The same goes for the other end, in your new house! It makes sense for all of your furniture and large items to already be inside the new house before you introduce your cats to their new territory.

You may have to temporarily confine your cats to one room in your new house whilst everything is being brought inside!

Physically Moving and Transporting Your Cat

Moving a cat in a vehicle or on public transport can be stressful for you and the cat.

Consider using a professional pet moving company if you’re moving your cat a long distance.

If you’re moving a short distance, say under an hour’s drive then it may be quicker and cheaper to move your cat yourself.

You will need:

  • A high-quality cat carrier
  • A blanket or some bedding
  • Some cat treats

Don’t settle for a flimsy cat carrier, especially if your cat will be in it for a long time. Get a solid one, and never let it hang from the handle, always support it underneath for extra protection.

Also, softer cat carrier with zips can be easily unpicked by a determined cat! I recommend using the PetMate 2-door top loading portable kennel. As it has a front door and a top door, it’s much easier to get your cat in and out of. It’s also very sturdy, has plenty of room and it closes securely.


Transporting Your Cat

When you’re transporting your cats to their new home, have someone with you as a passenger in the car. Your cats should be securely inside a high-quality cat carrier, as recommended in the previous section. Have a responsible and trustworthy passenger with you in the car to hold on to the carrier and ensure it doesn’t move around too much in transit.

Try to make your cat as comfortable as possible inside their carrier, line the bottom with their blanket. Cats usually hate being transported inside carriers as it usually means a trip to the vet! Be gentle with your cat when you’re handling him/her both inside and outside of the carrier.

A white and calico cat inside a cat carrier
Not a happy kitty… Photo credit: Pixabay

Inside the car, make sure your cat carrier is not going to move about too much. Don’t put it in the trunk! Ask your passenger to hold the carrier. If your cat is getting distressed, talk to them and let them hear your voice to help calm them.

Whatever you do, don’t stop along your journey, as your cat could escape and get completely lost in a strange area. Try to travel directly if you can, this is why planning ahead is so important.

As soon as you arrive in your new home

Contact the pet microchip database and update your details. So many people leave their cat’s microchip with out of date details, which makes you harder to track down should your cat become lost and found by someone.

Update your pet insurance details. If you have pet insurance (and you should!) Then you need to update your address or your policy could become void.

Change your cat’s collar details. If your cat’s collar has an address engraved or written inside a tag, put your new address on it straight away.

Do these things immediately, as soon as you move as it’s easy to forget small things like this.

Let your Cat Explore Indoors

It’s time to introduce your cat(s) to their new home!

Decide where you will put their food and water dishes, litter box, and scratching post etc and let your cat discover them.

You may want to physically put your cat in the litter box initially, to get him/her used to its new location and avoid any accidents (although, this is unlikely for cats). Use the same litter as you usually use so your cats are familiar with it.

Let your cat explore at his/her own rate. Moving is chaotic, your furniture might not be in situ, you probably have boxes and bags and stuff everywhere. Many cats will enjoy all of this excitement! The love bags and cardboard boxes after all!

Ginger and white fluffy cat in a box
Heaven for a cat! Photo credit: Pixabay

If your cat gets overwhelmed, then introduce him/her to each new area of the house slowly. A lot of new information to process can be overwhelming for a cat.

Ensure your windows and doors are closed so your cat won’t run outside into unfamiliar territory and get lost.

How Long Should you Keep your Cats Indoors After Moving House?

It’s best practice to keep your cat(s) indoors for at least 2 weeks in a new home before letting them roam outside. Cats make a mental map of their territory, they need to feel safe at home before allowing them to venture out.

They will also have a good sense of their entrance/exit points, whether this is a door, open window or cat flap. So, when you do let your cats outside after moving to a new home, open the door/window for them to walk through rather than Physically taking the cats outside. Your cat will make note of how to get in/out of the house.

If you have a garden or a backyard, go outside with your cat. Do this during the daytime, spending time outdoors and keeping an eye on your cat; your presence will let him/her know that it’s safe to explore.

The only thing you can do is see what happens, if your cat isn’t into being outside somewhere new yet, just bring them back in! If they’re having a great time getting to know their new roaming route, then just leave them be – they know how to get back in, just ensure you keep that entrance/exit point accessible to them.

You may want to introduce your cat(s) to their new outdoor territory slowly, in stages. This varies from cat-to-cat and what your new home is like, pay attention to any potential threats, such as other cats, dogs, wild animals, train tracks, busy roads, etc.

A calico cat in a garden looking over a wooden fence
A beautiful calico cat peers over the fence to get a better look. Photo credit: Pixabay

Invest in a Cat Tracker

Investing in a cat tracker can give cat owners extra piece of mind that they’ll be able to locate their cat should they go missing. Most cat trackers are very small and unobtrusive, and also very affordable.

Each cat tracker has different features, including GPS, mobile apps, location history and sound alerts if your cat wanders too far. There’s way too much to go into in this guide for people wondering how to move a cat to a new house! If you’re interested in reading more, here’s a Complete Cat Tracker Buying Guide & Recommendations for the Best Trackers to suit all budgets (link opens in a new tab).

Putting Butter on your Cat’s Paws

Some cats are likely to dart outside, rather than err on the side of caution. By putting a small amount of butter on their front paws before opening the door, your cat will lick the button off their paws before running off to explore. This gives them time to become familiar with their surroundings and prevent them from getting lost.

A tabby and white cat licking its paws
Buttery paws mean tasty paws! Photo credit: Pixabay

So, by using common sense and exercising caution when moving house with a cat or cats, it should be relatively stress-free and perfectly safe. Cats are very resourceful animals with finely tuned senses. Try your best not to worry and enjoy your new home!

Have you recently moved house with your cat? Have you got any tips to share with our readers? Leave a comment below to share your advice.

Further Reading

How to Prevent your Cat from Going Missing or Getting Lost

The Ultimate Guide to Finding your Lost Cat

The Best Cat Trackers of 2018


This post contains affiliate links. That means that, at no extra cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you buy a product using one of the links on this page. Read our full disclosure here.


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