Introducing a Cat to a New Home: Secrets To A Smooth Transition

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 06/26/22 •  13 min read
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How to introduce a cat to a new home – sounds like a simple straightforward thing to do, right?

Well let me tell you, in my experience as a pet owner and animal rescuer, it is not as easy as one may think.

Having owned a Siamese cat for most of my adult life I can tell you from experience that cats are creatures of habit and like nothing more than having a routine in their lives.

Cats are creatures of routine so the best results come from keeping the transition as similar as possible to their original home.

When moving to a new house, it is important to ensure the welfare of your pet by minimizing their stress and helping them to acclimatize to their new surroundings.

Unless you are an expert at introducing pets to their new home, it can be a stressful and worrying experience.

The cat might hide and refuse to come out of the new place and that can cause panic if you have a very active cat.

They may also scratch the floorboards or try to claw through the window to get back outside again.

Forging good litter box habits early on is key rather than trying to fix bad ones later after moving house.

If cats ruled the world, and most cat owners believe they already do, you’d never leave the house for work, vacation, or even to the grocery shop. Moving houses? Forget about it!

Unfortunately, moving to a new house will happen to almost every pet owner. The trick is to make the process as painless as possible for your cat and you as well.

This useful guide will show you how to go about introducing cats to a new home seamlessly!

Getting your new home ready for the cat

Schedule bringing your kitten or adult cat home when there is peace and quietness in the new house.

Have all the cat essentials in place before bringing your cat to his new home. These include:

Moving a cat to a new home final preparations

If your cat goes outside to play, stop letting her outside for one week to move houses.

This final week is the most intense as packing gets more intense with minimal sleep involved and higher stress levels. If you’ve moved houses, you know what I’m talking about.

For this reason, your cat may detect the sudden change in the atmosphere and decide not to return home for the night. Imagine having to look for your “lost cat” while gearing up to relocate. Stress on steroids!

I know of many sob stories where cat owners had to abandon the search for their cats and leave due to the tight movers’ schedules, and the daunting task ahead with limited time.

Imagine how tragic it is for your cat to finally head back to your old house only to find it empty. The fear and confusion she would feel is horrendous.

If a kind neighbor recognizes her and takes her in, lucky for her. The other option is to transition from being in a loving family to a homeless stray.

I would hate for this to be your fate simply because you refused to lock your cat indoors during that final week.

You can endure her “rants” during the week, but it surely is for her safety, and you definitely know better.

Packing is an intense experience and most cats enjoy the process of diving in and out of boxes. Some however are timid and hide In fear due to the sudden change and chaos in the house.

Ensure your cat doesn’t get packed in a box. I’m serious…It happens.

Warning

This can occur should your cat take a nap in a box with linen and you end up piling more stuff and sealing the box shut. Into the moving van, it goes. Any cries would go unheard and muzzled by the clothes.

When packing, seclude your cat in a separate room. Alternatively, ensure you are staring at her roaming around as you seal all the boxes shut.

Requirements before moving a cat to a new home

In that final week before you relocate, ensure:

  1. You obtain a copy of your cat’s medical records from your veterinarian. This is important if you will be changing your veterinary clinics.
  2. Have your current veterinary clinic forward your cat’s medical records directly to the new veterinarian, if you have already selected one in the new place you are relocating to.
  3. Have an ID tag designed for your cat’s collar, detailing your new address and phone number. Your cat will wear this on the day of the move.

The final day of moving a cat to a new home

Ensure that you have all the cat essentials in a separate box that will ride with you in the vehicle. These essentials include:

This ensures that you have everything you need in a single place and unpacking in the new home to set up your cat will be easy.

This final day is hectic and stressful, so confine your cat in one room or bathroom. Place her litter box, water bowl, and cat bed in the same room with her.

Play some soft soothing music in the cat room to filter out some of the commotion and noise happening just outside her door.

Pro tip

Set up a humongous warning sign on the door to that cat room warning people not to enter.

Make sure you have a pet carrier to transport your cat and have it lined with a towel or a small blanket to keep your cat warm during travel.

Have this ready and place it in the cat room too.

Follow these hacks while transitioning a cat to a new home, to make your cat more comfortable

Settling your cat after house moving

Cat licking water in a bowl

Upon arrival to the new home, set up your cat’s essentials in a quiet one-room. This is the kitty box, water, food bowls, toys, scratching post, and cat bed.

Make sure all its doors and windows are closed.

Pick the carrier with the cat in it take your cat into the confinement room and shut the doors and windows.

Place the carrier on the floor and reassure your cat lovingly then after a while, open the door and allow him to leave the carrier when he’s comfortable.

Don’t shut the carrier door once he leaves as he should be able to run back inside in case he’s a scared cat.

Some cats adjust quickly to the new environment while others take days or even weeks in the confinement room. Do not rush this process.

Pro tip

When your cat is ready to begin exploring and adjust to the new residence, she will do so at her pace.

When handling a kitten, it’s a good idea to throw in bedding or something familiar that has the mother’s scent or that of his littermates.

For an adult cat, place something he can identify with from his former home. These items will help your cat become comfortable during this transition period.

Visit your cat in this room to check on her and play with her for 10 minutes, during the unpacking process.

Don’t be alarmed, 10 minutes of play won’t disrupt your unpacking schedule to any significant degree.

Provide a catnip in celebration of a successful move into the new home.

This confinement room is not a jail.

Pro tip

Avoid making this feel like imprisonment to enable him to get used to his new home and feel more secure.

As soon as the cat steps out of the carrier, introduce your cat to the location of the cats’ tray.

Do not force him to leave the carrier should he hesitate.

He will do so when he is comfortable and familiar with his surroundings.

Food and water should be ready too.

Watch this 3-minute video on how to move your cat into your new home perfectly:

How do you introduce a cat to a new home?

Your cat will be ready to get out of the confinement room once she resumes her normal behavior and routine.

Don’t force her to get out of the room. Simply leave the door open and allow her to explore the place at her own pace.

Once she begins to explore, don’t shut the door to the confinement room as she may opt to go back if she gets too anxious.

The confinement room should not contain any hazardous substances and should not be an accident-prone zone.

Pro tip

In case your cat went outdoors in your previous home, you can easily retrain her to become a fully indoors cat in this new home. The outside territory is unfamiliar and the discoveries in the house will keep her preoccupied.

If you however wish to allow her outside, be patient and wait for at least a month to pass by before doing so. This will allow her to be comfortable indoors in the new house and to fully adjust to the move.

When you finally let her out, have a leash and harness on her. This will ensure she doesn’t run off into unfamiliar territory since she doesn’t relate to this outside environment. Other cats may not be too pleased to see her either.

Daily, take her out for walks close to the house to establish a connection with the environment.

If the weather is conducive, sit with her outside and feed her dinner there. Allow her to move in and out as she establishes this new connection between the indoor environment and the outdoor area.

Only allow your cat outside once she’s fully vaccinated, has an ID collar on, and is trained to respond to your call. Yes, once you call her, she should come running.

Pro tip

Tall order? Then make her an indoor cat!

How long does it take for your cat to get used to a new home?

This confinement period may last a week or two depending on how fast your cat catches up.

Once familiar with using the box, let him free to move and roam and explore the rest of the house.

Do not move the box immediately since you’ll confuse him.

Remember that accidents do occur and avoid spanking or rubbing the poop on the cat’s nose especially if you did not catch the cat in the process.

Unlike humans, cats do not relate their past actions to current punishment and they won’t understand why you are beating them. You risk intimidating him and making him repeat this process all over again.

Should you catch him in the process of elimination, pick him up and say “no,” move or carry him to the pet tray and place him inside.

Clean up the mess using an enzymatic cleaner and remove all the stains and odors to keep him from using the same spot over and over again.

How to make a cat feel comfortable in a new home

Moving house is a stressful period for your cat and calming him is key for proper cat box training in his new home.

To make your cat feel comfortable in a new home, a pheromone diffuser will do the trick.

Feliway is a synthetic version of a cat naturally occurring facial pheromones, designed to calm and comfort a cat in a stressful situation.

Plug in the Feliway diffuser in the confinement room and leave it to work its magic.

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

It is not bad to move a cat from house to house.

Cats are very adaptable, and generally do not suffer from moving from one place to another.

Moving a cat from one place to another, such as from your old house to your new home, can be done safely and easily. However, that doesn’t mean that it is best for the cat.

The goal of moving must be to create a safe, happy home environment for the cat, in which they feel comfortable and secure.

When should you not move a cat?

There are some situations in which it is best not to move your resident cat:

• If she is elderly

• If she has serious health issues

• If she isn’t well-socialized or isn’t used to being around other cats or animals

Conclusion:

The first few days in a new home can feel overwhelming for a cat. Your cat can get lonely, scared, and confused. Their owner’s emotions will also be running high with anxiety and worry as well.

However, re-establishing your cat’s routine, even if it’s just a few key things at first, will help your cat feel more comfortable in its new environment, and stress levels will start to settle down.

The key to introducing a cat into your new home is patience and making sure she feels safe. Don’t rush it!

Don’t try to do everything at once. You’ll overwhelm your cat and you might be unsuccessful in getting her to accept her new home quickly.

Instead, take it one step at a time, giving her plenty of time to adjust to each new change.

Try to make it as easy as possible for the cat to become familiar with its new home.

If you make sure that she is feeling comfortable with each change, then your job will become significantly easier.

There is no guarantee of quick success, and there will be failures along the way. Patience is key, but if you remain committed, you can help your cat adjust to her new home seamlessly.

We hope this guide will help you as a cat owner to make a smooth transition as you welcome your furry friend into your new home.

Davis Wilkins

Davis Wilkins is a dedicated cat lover, with three cats under his care. He grew up in a cat-loving family, nurturing these feline friends. As a result, he purposed to share his cat knowledge with the universe. Wilkins has been writing professionally for over four years, specializing in feline care with a keen interest in litter box care and handling. He hopes to help other feline lovers achieve their pet care goals.