Cats crave familiarity. The sudden change in environment that comes with moving house can be very distressing for them, especially when moving to a house that’s previously had other animals living in it.
Cats are most comfortable in a home where they know the location of their key resources, such as their food, water and litter tray, and where they are familiar with smells, sounds, and high-traffic areas. Cats will scent mark the area to help establish themselves in their home. When you see your cat brushing their face or paws up against furniture, household items (or even your leg), they’re using the scent glands in their cheeks or paw pads to leave ‘happy’ scent markers. Moving a cat to a new house removes all these things, and they’ll need to re-familiarise themselves and re-establish their scent before they can be truly comfortable.
Thankfully, there are several simple steps we can take to help make the transition to a new home easier for our cats.
Preparation: before introducing a cat to a new house, ensure you have all of the cat’s key resources ready and waiting for use. This means selecting an appropriate location and placing their food and water, litter tray, scratch post, bed, and any other essential items. Having everything ready will help the cat more quickly become familiar with their surroundings. You may also wish to introduce a pheromone-dispensing product, such as Feliway, a few days before welcoming the cat, so that they are greeted with a calming scent.
Familiarity: offer the cat as much familiarity as possible by using items already containing their scent. Scratch posts, blankets and beds are great options. If you’re adopting from us, we’d encourage you to bring in an item of clothing, or a blanket from your home a few days before taking your new cat home. This will help get them accustomed to your scent and/or the scent of your house, which could help the transition.
Hiding: expect that your cat may be quite nervous to start. Providing them a quiet, safe place to hide (perhaps containing a blanket or bed) will help provide them some calm. In their own time they’ll venture out and begin exploring, but be patient, every cat is unique and some may take longer than others.
Take it slow: allow your cat to get well-established in one room before introducing them to another. Once they know the location of their litter tray and food (and are using both), they may be ready to see more of the house. Too much, too quickly can be overwhelming, so remember that every new sound, smell or sight will take some getting used to.
Meeting other people: it’s expected that you’ll want to show off your new family member, but inviting too many family and friends over to meet the new arrival can be stressful. We recommend introducing them after the cat is settled, and not all at once.
If you’d like more information or advice about settling your cat into a new home, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 0131 669 5331 or by visiting us at 26 Seafield Road East, Edinburgh.