moving day cat and cardboard boxes

Moving to a new home is stressful for both  humans and pets. Cats know something is going on as you’re packing and they’re crated or placed in their bathroom as their owner moves out all of their belongings. If you’ve never moved with a cat before and don’t know how to handle them during this high-stress time, you may end up with a cat that is very fearful, stressed out, anxious, and refusing to eat. A feline may be stressed for several days after moving away from their familiar environment, to a new home. A pet may also seem anxious and confused, wondering where their favorite napping spot went or where their litter box is. In other cases, the unthinkable happens; a friend that’s helping you move has left a door open and your anxious cat has escaped. Fortunately, there’s a way you can avoid stressing your cat out when you move. By following the tips in this guide, you can help your cat by ensuring they’re calm, comfortable and feel secure during a move. There are also tips you can follow that can prevent your cats from panicking during the process and making a run for it.

Read on to learn about some helpful and effective strategies that can help keep your cats safe, happy, and comfortable on moving day.

How to Move with a Cat-Signs of Anxiety

moving with cat

As moving day approaches and you’re packing up your belongings, you may have noticed that your cats seem anxious, restless, and may hide more than usual. This is very normal for both dogs and cats. They may even stop playing with their toys, may refuse a feeding, or will spend an increased amount of time sleeping. These signs are important to pay attention to, since they can clue you in on how well or poorly your cat is handling the transition. Fortunately, there are many ways you can help your feline.

Synthetic Pheromone Use

If you believe your cats are in distress, try pheromone therapy. The pheromones should be started as soon as you start packing up your belongings and should be used during the move and while your cats are settling in their new environment. There are several ways you can deliver calming pheromones, such as wipes, sprays, and diffusers. There are also pheromone collars that have a reputation for being very effective, since they are always with a cat.

Try to Maintain a Stable Routine

It may sound challenging but it’s important to keep a familiar routine when moving. While you prepare for the move, you’ll find that you have several extra errands you need to take care of, such as trips to the dump, a search for more boxes, and cleaning up around your old home. Throughout this process, keeping a somewhat consistent schedule can be helpful, as least in terms of your cat’s usual routine. This means feeding them at the same time every day, cleaning out their litter box, and giving them plenty of love and attention throughout the day and at bedtime.

Safety Strategies for the Big Day

moving day with cat

For most pet owners, one of their biggest fears during a move is their cat escaping from the house during the chaotic process of moving boxes and loading and unloading the moving truck. Movers or friends and family members may not be quick enough to shut a door, allowing anxious cats to bolt outside. The more people you have around to help you move boxes, the higher the chance of your cat making a break for it when someone isn’t paying attention.

Choose one room in the home that you can use to keep your cat safe and restrict their movement. This one room should contain a litter box, bed, bedding, water, and food.

Put Up a Sign to Keep Your Cat Safe

One of the best moving day tips for cat owners is to put up a sign that reads “Keep door closed, cat inside”. This can be very helpful and will give you some peace of mind as you’re moving, while ensuring everyone in your house is well aware that there is a cat in the home.

You will need to put up another sign at your new house, as you’re moving everything in, once you have safely transported the cat.

Sedation May Be Necessary

Speak with your veterinarian prior to the move. Your vet may recommend administering a mild sedative during transport, especially if your cat is very anxious and you have a long distance to drive. It’s normal for pets to become stressed and anxious in the car, however, some can hurt themselves if they’re desperately trying to get out of their carrier.

Speak with your pet’s vet a week or two in advance to have them assess your cat and determine whether a sedative is necessary.

Boarding Your Cat

moving with a cat in car

If you have a large home or just a lot of stuff, it may take you a few days to complete the moving process and clear a space for your pet. If you’re not certain your cat will not get out, or you just don’t want to worry about it constantly as you’re moving, then boarding your cat may be the best option. While you may be hesitant to board your kitty, doing so may be the best thing for both of you, as your cat will have a warm, quiet space they can stay until the stressful moving process is complete. Speak with the boarding company a week in advance to schedule to have your cat boarded.

Use the Best Cat Carrier

While your kitty may still be on edge in a carrier, using one to contain your cat can prevent them from accidentally escaping, so it’s a smart move, especially if you have a moving company, and/or family and friends helping you move. You should leave the carrier in a safe and quiet room in your old home, to help them remain calm.

Quality Matters

Make sure the carrier you use is one that your cat can’t escape from. For example, if you have a large, smart cat who has worked the zipper open on their usual soft-sided carrier, your cat could escape during the moving process. Make sure you use the best cat carrier, one that features a hard-sided design. These are new top-of-the-line carriers that are basically escape proof, and they’ll provide a higher level of protection during transport, should you get into an accident. Containing and transporting your cat to the new house in this type of carrier is one of the best ways you can keep your cat safe during this hectic time.

You can also place articles of your clothing inside the carrier to help your cat feel less anxious.


Once it’s time to transport him or her in your car, carefully load him or her in their carrier. Most models will also allow you to secure it with a seatbelt, so it doesn’t slide around in the car during transport and will keep your cat secure.

Moving to a New Home-Tips on Settling In

If you give your cat free reign of your new house the same day, they may feel fearful or overwhelmed. Instead, take it slow, keep an eye on them, and introduce one new room at a time. If your cat is the exploring type, then you may be able to get through this process faster. If you have a scared, anxious cat on your hands, then take the slow route. Try to feed your cat at the same time you normally do. Bring out their favorite toys and spend some quality time playing with them to keep them happy. This can help them to relax and can work wonders to reduce their anxiety.

Choose an Introduction Room

moving boxes in new house.

Finding a small, quiet room in the house with minimal furniture and even less noise, will be a great way to introduce your pet to their new home and help them get used to their surroundings. This room will make it easier for scared or anxious cats to get settled in without getting overwhelmed. Before you let your pet out of their carrier, make sure you have their litter box prepared and their bed, food, and water spot set up. Your pets need a safe, comfortable, warm place to rest during the commotion. If your cat seems in distress, you can leave out some of their favorite treats or a little catnip. Placing their treats or catnip around the room can also encourage them to explore their new digs.

Litter Box Placement

A cat needs to know where their litter box is right away. Make sure you keep some of the old litter inside, so your cat can smell the box and immediately recognize their scent. Try to place it in a spot where it’s likely to stay permanently.

Use Their Facial Pheromones

Use a washcloth and wipe around your cat’s mouth. Take this washcloth of pheromones and rub it on objects around the home that are at the same height as a cat’s nose. Try this several times until you begin to see your cat rubbing their pheromones on objects around the home.

Update Your Pet’s Microchip or Tags

If your pet has tags or has a microchip make sure you update your address and contact information a few weeks before the move. A cat can easily get spooked during this time and make a run for the door during the transition.

Extra Moving Safety Tips

Moving is not easy. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult times in a human’s life. It can be equally as challenging for cats.

Below, you’ll find some extra safety tips you can follow to make moving less taxing for the both of you.

  • If you allow your cat to explore a larger space in the home, make sure you supervise their time out of their safe room. A scared or nervous cat will often hide in areas that could house electrical wires, or they’ll find refuge in narrow gaps behind appliances, or tight spaces in utility rooms.
  • At your new home, make sure that all the windows have screens that are secure, before you let your cat start roaming free. You don’t want her wandering out a loose screen trying to explore the neighborhood. This is how cats get lost. It typically takes living at a location for two weeks before a cat recognizes the new place as home.
  • Offer plenty of treats and their favorite food during this time. This can be very comforting during the transition.

Final Thoughts

Moving to a new home can be just as stressful for pets as it is for us humans, especially because they’re no longer in their familiar environment. There are new smells, unknown spaces, and different noises in a new place. Felines tend to get more stressed from moving into a new home than dogs, so it’s important to know what you’re up against, before you move, so you can plan ahead. Consider what your cat’s personality is like, what their usual level of stress is, and whether or not even small changes in the home seem to impact him or her. Does your cat often get stressed if you move furniture, or change up their routine? Does your cat often have anxiety? Are your cats older and more prone to stress than they used to be? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you definitely need to treat this situation delicately and ensure you do everything you can to keep your cat calm. Having a plan in place come moving day can help take the stress down a notch, for both you and your feline friend. By following these tips, you can ensure your cat remains comfortable, and secure, as you take on the stressful process of relocating to a new home.