Moving House with Cats

by | Jun 6, 2024 | Moving with animals | 0 comments

Cats, as they would also have you know, were credited in Egyptian times as containing some divine energy, like the feline goddesses of their pantheon. Many households in the UK are ruled by cats and their subtle powers of persuasion. Cat owners nationwide will agree. If cats disappeared from Instagram a whole culture of memes would be as if without an alphabet.  Herodotus wrote in 440BC of Egyptians, that when a pet cat died in a household, the family would shave off their eyebrows in mourning. So, when it comes to moving house with your cat, it’s important to have a plan. Cats in bags tend to get let out, and that is definitely not what you want when moving house.  In order to honour the divine feline in your family, take heed of Burke and Will’s tried and tested tips for moving house with cats.


  1. Why moving house is stressful for cats
  2. How to prepare your cats in advance
  3. Set up a safe room for your cats before you move
  4. Feeding procedure before moving your cat
  5. Cat pheromones
  6. Safe space in your new home
  7. Going outside in the new home
  8. Moving house with Burke and Wills

Why moving house is stressful for cats

Moving house for a cat means a whole territorial shift and it is important to bear this in mind through the whole process. Stories about cats who find their way back to their old homes abound, because, they are good at finding their way back through scent and their own pheromone trails.  In a fight or flight situation a cat will attempt to go back to what is safe and familiar, so the trick is to keep them feeling safe and familiar while the new territory is gradually established.  For a creature that sleeps 70% of its life, priorities are mainly sunspots, soft furnishings, and at times outdoor shade. Throw a total relocation against their will into the mix and immediately the feline alarm system will be on high alert. While some people choose to put a cat in a cattery while they move, others will safeguard their cat through the process. Cattery or not, you cat will still have to go through an adapting process in your new home. Take these steps to ensure the process is smooth and in line with your cat’s general aim which is to feel at home and relax.

How to prepare your cats in advance

Cats find comfort in the familiar and they are not keen on travelling and being forced against their will. Having them get familiar with their cat carrier weeks in advance will help the process when it comes to moving day.  Once you have found a comfortable and practical cat carrier that you are happy with, let the cat get familiar with it well in advance of moving day. You can put some of your clothes inside, for those familiar scents, plus a few friendly cat toys.  This will scent it as part of the usual territory and your cat will associate it with what is familiar and safe.  When it comes to travelling inside the cat carrier, your cat will not view it as part of the unknown.

Set up a safe room for your cats before your move

Before you move house, isolate your cat or cats in one room only. Place their litter tray, cat carrier, food and water, plus some toys all in this one room. Make sure this room is closed so the cats don’t get out. They will get accustomed to being in this one safe space and you visiting them there. In the safe room they are away from the chaos of moving and packing  and you can use artificial pheromones to increase their sense of calm in that room. Put a note on the door in case anyone is liable to  open the door and let the cats out.

Feeding procedure before moving your cat

Feed the cats lightly before the actual journey from one home to the other. Cats can become travel sick and so a light meal 3 hours beforehand will mean they are neither full or hungry.  Depending on the length of transit from one location to the next you will want to gage if they will need extra water and food on the way.  When you move the cat carrier into the car, secure it with a seatbelt.

Cat Pheromones

Pheromones are the way cats secure their territory and communicate with each other. When a cat rubs its face against objects and places it is leaving its pheromones to mark those places as safe. The same goes when cats rub their cheeks against you and your hands, they are making you part of their safe territory.  Cats also leave their pheromones in urine, particularly males stake out their zone with urine.  When cats scratch, furniture, scratching posts, trees, they are also releasing pheromones.  Artificial pheromones mimic the pheromones of cats in order to increase their feeling of safety and security. They are available in the form of:

  • Pheromone diffusers
  • Pheromone sprays
  • Pheromone wipes

All of these can be useful when your cat is in transition, leaving one clearly established safe territory for the unknown. You can also use their own pheromones by rubbing a clean cloth on your cat’s cheek and then distributing this at cat height on objects in the new location.

Safe space in your new home

Once you arrive in the new location, allocate one room as the safe space for the cats. Set it up as it was in the previous location. In this room, the cats  will have their litter tray, food, water, toys, cat carrier, and a place to hide.   The cats will stay in this room for a few days before they can explore other parts of the house.  Depending on your cats nature, curious or nervous, they will let you know when they are ready to explore further. Be sure to close all doors and cat flaps as they explore, so they do not leave the actual house.  As they explore, they will rub their faces around the place, building up their pheromone profile and gradually establishing a new living zone.  Using artificial pheromones can encourage this process and help them feel at home faster.

Going outside in the new home

After about 3 weeks your cat will have built up a scent profile it calls home and will be familiar with the house and all its favourite locations.  This scent profile will help them find their way back home. Let them out to explore just before a meal time, so they are hungry and easier to cajole back into the house with food. Before exploring  happens, update your new address with your pet’s microchip records.  Let them out for short periods at a time and avoid picking them up, it is important they can make all their decisions themselves. Keep the door open so they can return when they want.

Moving house with Burke and Wills

South West London’s family-friendly removals and storage, at Burke and Wills we know every member of the family is important when it comes to moving day.  We specialise in helping families move within your own unique schedules, ensuring stress is not a part of the process. Read our reviews here to see why our customers think we are the cat’s whiskers!