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How long should cats be kept in when moving house?

If you have just moved house or thinking about it, you may be wondering how long your cat should be kept in once you do…

How long should cats be kept in when moving house?

When moving house, cats should be kept indoors for a minimum of two weeks. Allow your cat to settle into the house before letting them explore the garden and outside areas. Keep all windows, and doors leading outside closed to prevent your cat from escaping. 

So, now you know. But, do cats become anxious when you move? Will they remember their old house? What should you do if your cat is desperate to go outside in your new home? Keep reading for these answers, and much more.

Do cats get anxious when moving house?

A cat at the window looking outside.

A cat at the window looking outside.

Cats can become anxious when moving house due to the sudden change of surroundings. Help your cat by maintaining your cat’s old routine as much as possible by keeping feeding times the same as they were before the move.

Redecorating and moving furniture around is enough to cause some cats stress because their environment has changed, and they are now unfamiliar with it. Moving house is a huge deal for cats, as it is for humans too. They are moving into a new area, in terms of roaming outdoors, a new house with new rooms, and they don’t know these new surroundings.

Do cats remember their old house when they move?

Cats do remember their old house after they have moved and in the few weeks after the move, they will attempt to make their way back to their old house. They would not be able to find their way back there unless you only moved a short distance.

Cats do possess a homing instinct, but once they are moved out of their home, this is essentially reset. In most instances, cats will get lost if they try to find their way back to their old house.

What do you do if your cat is keen to go outside in your new home?

If your cat starts becoming frustrated that they cannot go outside then you can consider accompanying them outside with the use of a leash. This way they can explore the outdoor space and you will not have to worry about them escaping.

What can you do to help your cat relax in your new home?

A black and white cat lying in a pet bed.

A black and white cat lying in a pet bed.

As soon as you move your cat into your new home, provide them with their usual bed and toys. Cats will be familiar with objects from their old house, which is why it is important to use these objects to help cats settle in their new home. The familiarity of these items will help to relax them as they will be unsure of the new environment.

To help your cat relax give them lots of attention whilst they are initially confined to one room. Ensure your cat has constant access to food and water, so they know that they are safe in their new home. Knowing that you are there with them and providing food for them will help your cat feel relaxed.

Can cats pick up the scent from a previous homeowner’s cat?

Cats can pick up the scent from a previous homeowner’s cat, particularly if the previous cat was last in the house less than five days ago. After this period of time, it is unlikely that your cat will pick up the scent from any cats that previously lived there.

As your cat has been introduced to a completely new environment, it will pick up many new scents, not just the scent of other cats. The new surroundings and multiple new smells are likely to distract your cat and they won’t pay too much attention specifically to the previous cat’s scent.

How do I let my cat outside after moving?

After your cat has been kept indoors for a minimum of two weeks following the house move, you can consider letting them outdoors. When letting your cat outdoors, you should accompany your cat for the first week so you can keep your eye on them, making sure they don’t escape.

When you are satisfied that your cat is familiar with your garden, and the area surrounding the house, you can allow your cat to go outside on its own. Initially, do not allow your cat outside on their own at night, as it will be difficult to find them should they decide not to come back indoors.

Don’t feed your cat before allowing them outside on their own, it is easier to get a cat back indoors when they are hungry, and they know you will provide them with food.

How long after moving can I let my cat outside?

Keep your cat inside for two weeks after moving, before letting your cat outside. During this time your cat will establish the house as their new home, minimizing the risk of them trying to return to your previous house. You need to be stubborn and not give in to your cat even if they are constantly pestering you to let them out.

If you are able to, create an enclosed space in your garden for your cat to roam free for a few weeks. Let them acclimatize to their new surroundings before giving them full freedom of their outdoor space.

Is it bad to move a cat from house to house?

Moving from house to house is bad for cats because, like us humans, moving house is stressful for our pets. Cats develop comfort and security from familiar surroundings and can become scared and stressed when placed in an unfamiliar environment.

If you plan well ahead of a move for your cat then you won’t have anything to worry about. If you move house constantly, or your cat is persistently moved to different environments, then it is bad for your cat. You will increase their stress and fear which will cause them to try and escape.

Will my cat run away if I move house?

If you move house and let your cat outdoors straight away, then they will run away. They are not aimlessly running away to get away from you, they are fearful of their new surroundings and attempting to find your old house.

If you live nearby your old house, your cat will have a good chance of finding it and will try to move back in with the new occupants. If you move a long distance then your cat will more than likely get lost in their search for your old house.

Before the move, it is a good idea to give your cat an identification collar containing your name, new address, and phone number. If your cat does run away, anyone who finds them will be able to contact you and safely return your cat. In addition, it is good practice to always have all of your pets microchipped for this exact reason.

Should you isolate your cat to one room first in your new home?

When you move into your new home you should isolate your cat in one room, to begin with. Place some familiar objects and toys for your cat in the room. You should use a carrier to transport your cat from the old house to the new house, place this carrier containing your cat in the prepared room, allowing your cat to become familiar with their surroundings before opening the carrier.

Ensure a litter tray, water, and food are all available in this room should your cat need them whilst you organize the rest of your house. Once you feel that your cat is ready, open the carrier and let them out, leaving the carrier in the room for your cat.

Lindsey Browlingdon