All velvet paws love their home, including with the smells and favorite places. That is why a move means pure stress for the cat. Especially since cats hate to be transported from one place to another locked up in a transport box. Even going to the vet in a transport box requires a lot of preparation if it is to be stress-free. The same therefore applies to a move.
Before it starts
It’s not a question of improvising: the cat will notice that something is planned. You don’t need to have packed boxes or moved furniture to do this, because cats have a seventh sense. So make sure the cat stays relaxed with extra quality time in the form of cuddles, romps and play sessions. Plan in advance where the food bowl, litter box and scratching post will be located in the future. For the cat it would be advantageous if everything remains as it was in the old apartment. If the food bowl was first placed in the kitchen next to the door, it should get the same place in the new home. And if the litter box was under the stairs, then you should look for a comparable place in the new home to make the move easier for the cat. Try to get the cat used to the carrier early by including it in daily play. Interested cats closely follow the events surrounding the move. Fearful velvet paws perceive the upcoming changes as threatening.
On moving day
It would be best if the cat did not have to experience moving day one on one. If you give the cat to familiar people who have supervised it before or kept it during the vacations, that would be very wise. The cat will be spared the stress of moving and will not move into the new home until everything is set up and in place. If this is not possible, the cat should be brought to the new home in the transport box the day before. If possible, set up a cat room there, where the cat will find everything it needs for a day: Cat food, water, litter box and toys. Do not open the door to this room during the move. It’s best to lock the door with a key, because some cats can open doorknobs themselves and then race up and out through open doors quite mindlessly. It is true that the cat will hear the strange noises and voices in the cat room. However, the environment visible to it remains unchanged. Once the movers are done with their work, check to see how the cat is doing. If you have not finished moving the cat, it is best to leave it in the cat room for a few more days. Clean only the litter box every day, refill the drinking water and cat food, and give your cat lots of cuddles. Only when the biggest moving chaos is eliminated, let the cat out so that it can explore the new apartment. Also important when you take the cat to the new apartment on moving day: Do not put the transport box in the furniture car, but take the cat in your own vehicle to reduce stress for the house cat.
In the new home
In general, every cat reacts differently to a new environment. Cats acclimate better if the old furniture, the old sofa, the old food bowl and the familiar sleeping basket are still there after the move. Better you replace the interior piece by piece, so that the cat can get used to it. It may take some time for the cat to get used to the new environment. Be patient! In any case, always leave the door to the cat room open a crack, so that the cat has an escape to a familiar environment. It is best to let the cat come out and inspect the new home itself. A good idea is to show the cat where its things will be placed.
If the cat comes from acquaintances or from the boarding house to the tidy apartment, you should make an inspection of the apartment together with the cat. Even now it is useful for the cat to have a specially furnished room in which it can acclimatize. Devote a lot of time to the cat in the first days, even if time is short.
Free roamers in the new apartment
Free roamers should not be let outside until they are fully acclimated to their new home. Only in this way the new home becomes the starting point for the excursions in the new territory. The time of free access should be increased slowly. Experts recommend to take time for a common free walk in the beginning and to connect the time of the homecoming with the feeding time. This way the cat learns that there is food when it comes home. If the new apartment is located in a busy area, then the lack of outdoor access should at least be replaced by a cat-safe balcony. The cat does not understand why it is suddenly no longer allowed outside. It can become aggressive or unclean out of frustration. The same applies to cats that have difficulty settling into a new environment. Create plenty of climbing opportunities and hiding places in the new home to help them cope with the change, or plant a large area with cat grass. Alternatively, you can try to get the cat used to going out on a leash and harness for more security. But for this you need a lot of time and patience.
Especially if the move is in the closer vicinity to the old apartment, cats often return to the old apartment and their ancestral territory. They even defend it against intruders. Then good advice is expensive. It often helps if the free access is limited in time in the first days after the quarantine in the house and the interaction with the cat in the new home is perceived positively from the cat’s point of view. Talk to the new tenants of the old apartment that they do not encourage the cat in its behavior, but make it as uncomfortable as possible.