How to stop your cat from getting lost when you move

Moving house is stressful enough without having to worry about your cat disappearing and not being able to find its way back to your new home. As any cat owner knows, cats are incredibly sensitive creatures. By preparing them for the move and giving them time to settle in, you’ll be making sure they don’t decide a better option is to take flight elsewhere.

Preparing for your cat’s house move

Use a pheromone spray around your old house and new house. This is the smell your cat spreads around the house when they rub their faces on you and objects! It helps them feel calm. There are sprays and plug-ins available to buy, which you can start using 24 hours before you even get the packing boxes out. It may help keep your cat feel relaxed. You can use this in the new house too.

Don’t forget to change microchip details as soon as you move and have a new vet’s details handy in case you need them. If you think they would be happy to wear a collar, introduce that to them while in your old house and add a tag with your contact details.

What to do on the day of the move

Territory and scent are vital to your cat’s wellbeing. Before you move into your house, scrub away the smell of the previous occupants and give everything a good clean. This is particularly important if cats were living here before.  

You could consider putting them into a cattery for a couple of days until your household items are in place. If you don’t want to do that, find a quiet space in the new home, put your cat’s belongings in there and make sure they can’t escape. Consider adding some items that smell strongly of home. Maybe used pillowcases or cushions.

Rub a flannel gently around their faces and then wipe this onto furniture, window and door frames. You are effectively rubbing their scent on the furniture and fixtures to help them settle in.

How can I stop my cat getting lost when I move house?

Let them explore your new home step-by-step. Open up each new room to them at their own pace to look around slowly and get used to their environment. Remember to keep the windows and doors shut!

If your cat is used to heading outside to use the toilet, it might be a shock for them to suddenly use a litter tray. Keep the tray clean and tidy. Spread some of the used litter around the edge of the garden. When they do eventually head outside, their scent is already there. It also warns other cats there is a new kitty on the block!

How soon can I let my cat outside after I move house?

Be strict and don’t let them out. You’ll need to wait at least two weeks but preferably three. Let them settle in the house and spread their scent properly before allowing them the freedom of the garden and beyond. If you let them out too quickly, they may become disorientated and decide to try to head back to where you used to live. 

What should I do when I let them out in the garden? 

Don’t feed them before they first go out. It will encourage them to stay nearby. If they are hungry, the rattling of a packet of cat treats should help lure them back inside. 

Open the door and let them head out in their own time. Give your cat time to explore slowly. If they don’t want to go out, try another day.

Start with short periods, to begin with. Then, encourage them back into the house for their dinner.

Spend extra time doing nice things with your cat. Grooming, playing and feeding them treats! It will make them less inclined to leave home.

Just in case your cat decides to head back to their old territory, give the owners of your old house your details. Make them aware of what your cat looks like. Ask them not to feed or stroke them if they turn up so your cat isn’t encouraged to stay.

Last thoughts on stopping your cat getting lost when you move

Prepare your cat for the move as best you can. Keep the whole process as stress-free as possible. Finally, don’t be in a rush to let them get out and about. Follow our advice and your cat will hopefully be happy and settled in your new home.

With an Agria Pet Insurance policy, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.