Less than a year ago, I moved from Cincinnati to Minneapolis with two cats. My boyfriend and I rented a small moving truck, filled it with two dozen cardboard boxes, and wrangled two cats into their carriers to fit alongside us in the cab.
Going for short distance car rides with cats is hard enough, so I was nervous for the nearly 12 hours it was going to take to get to the new apartment.
If you’re preparing for a big move, I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to for moving with your cat, especially over long distances.
5+ Tips for Moving With Cats
Prepare for Anxious Cats
Before the move, I had covered all of my basis, bringing travel food and water bowls and planning a feeding and litter schedule for the ride to make sure Percy and Oli were always comfortable.
But, when the move actually came, my cats were too anxious from the loud truck noises and constant movement that they refused to eat, drink, or use the bathroom for the entire trip.
Before you spend too much time planning and panicking, remember that this is a stressful time for your cat as well, and even with a plan, everything could change depending on how your cat reacts to the car ride.
Visit Your Vet Before the Move
This is an important step for a few reasons.
First, having up-to-date vet records when moving to a new state is really handy, especially if you’re moving into an apartment. Many landlords require proof of up-to-date shots.
It also helps to ensure the health of your pets before you make the long ride, to prevent any potential health problems on the trip.
If you know that your cats are especially anxious, the vet may also be able to prescribe sedatives that will help them relax on the trip.
Pick a Comfortable Cat Carrier and Place It In a Stable Location
You want your cats to be as comfortable as possible, and–depending on the length of your trip–it can be a bit hard to keep them comfortable.
I recommend buying soft carriers that have a cushion in them for your cats to sleep in. I also bought carriers that were a size bigger than necessary to make sure they had extra space to stretch out and move around.
Once you’ve got your cat in a carrier and you place them in the truck cab, try to find the flattest, stablest place possible to limit how much movement they feel.
With two cats, this was a bit difficult, but there was enough space in between the driver and passenger seat to put a cat carrier and Oli seemed to be the most comfortable there.
Be Very Careful With Letting Your Cat Out of the Carrier
If you’re driving for more than 6 or 7 hours, I would recommend offering your cat a chance to get out of the carrier and move around.
Sometimes, like the case with my cats, they won’t take you up on the offer. Mine refused to budge when I opened the door. If your cats do want out, though, be very careful.
I recommend only letting your cat out while you are parked to prevent potential accidents. Also, double-check that you shut all doors and windows. My worst nightmare while moving was that I was somehow going to lose one of my cats in a strange place.
I highly recommend getting your cat microchipped, just in case.
Create a Safe Space
Once you’ve arrived, don’t forget to set up a safe space while your cat gets resituated. The new environment may cause them some anxiety so having a place to retreat to comes highly recommended.
In this room, I recommend putting in as many familiar things as possible. This will include the cat bed, litter box, food, and water, as well as any of their favorite toys. You can also try installing a Door Buddy to make sure the room stays free of any unwanted visitors.
The Door Buddy is an adjustable door strap that easily lets cats into rooms without having to worry about tricky installations or cutting a hole in your door. It also keeps dogs and babies out so your cat has their full privacy during this transition!
Go With the Move Flow
No matter how much preparation you put it, the most important thing you can do is just pay attention to the way your cat is reacting and react accordingly. Moving with cats is a stressful time for everyone, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
In all likelihood, everything will go much better than you think.