How to Help Your Cat Survive a Move 2023

Suzie Cyrenne
Authored by Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie is a Certified Homeopath and Co-Founder of Zumalka
, specializing in natural and holistic remedies for pets.
- Jul 5, 2023

My cat is special. I have never seen a cat like him. He is not like other cats. He is different. He is... how would I describe him? Ah, let’s face it: my cat is obnoxious. I have never seen such a cunning, hypocritical, stubborn cat in my entire life. I’m not name-calling. It’s just the truth.

You know, I used to believe that one can mold any cat to his or her preferences or shape his personality according to one’s taste. Same master, same cat. Man, was I wrong! I mean, you can try to give some discipline or behavioral training but be prepared to face that undeniable truth: it may not work!


Anxiety in Cats and Moving

cat lying down

While this may sound surprising, your feline family member may exhibit anxious behaviors if he is uprooted from surroundings and other animals that he has become very familiar with. Even losing items like a scratching post, a cat tree, litter boxes, cat perches and food puzzles can end up being anxiety triggers like in the case of separation anxiety!

Now that we're on the subject, cat separation anxiety and moving are closely linked together. And I'm going to walk you through simple and practical tips on how to keep clear or help ease your cat's anxiety while successfully relocating to a different place at the same time. Make sure you follow along to find out more.


Separation Anxiety in a Nutshell

girl hugging her cat

Separation anxiety is one of the anxiety disorders and medical problems that your cat could be prone to at some point in his life. It is a fear response that involves bouts of distress and fright after your pet is separated from a person, other pets, or things that he already has an emotional attachment.

Contrary to popular belief, this type of anxiety in cats is not just common among multi-cat households. There are a lot of cats suffering from separation anxiety in one-feline homes! It is important to take note that diagnosing anxiety early can help curb destructive behavior in the long run.


I Didn't Know I Had an Anxious Cat!

sad looking cat

I think I forgot that truth because we have had very docile pets in our home over the decades (or maybe my parents were just amazing trainers) and we could get them to obey or even do tricks. The previous cat we had was so docile that within a few minutes, my husband taught him how to roll over.

However, just like humans, pets have their own personalities. Cats can be especially hard to train. And this is the situation I’m faced with: despite all my efforts, my cat refuses to stay indoors no matter how much we play with him. He needs fresh air.

And I also didn't have the slightest clue that I am already dealing with an anxious cat. Anxiety can significantly affect a cat's life, particularly when no proper treatment or positive behavior modification is resorted to.


My Cat's Anxiety Started to Show

gray cat's back

It took us some time to figure out why he was meowing all the time, though, which is already a subtle sign of anxiety. Whenever I say "no" or keep him from doing something, he cunningly goes into my suitcases or my clothes and pees on them. When he is bored, he goes to the kitchen, opens the cupboard and throws everything on the floor!

With such a cat, you can imagine the nightmare I was expecting when we had to move to a new place. But before we get to the tips I told you about earlier, let's go over the signs of cat anxiety pet owners should not overlook...


Common Cat Anxiety Symptoms Pet Parents Should Know

cat looking at something

Your cat's behavior tells a lot when it comes to anxiety in cats. Below are the most common signs of cat anxiety that you should keep in mind:

  • Excessive vocalization or excessive meowing

  • Extreme reactions to loud noises

  • Moves around as if in physical pain, like having a hurt paw

  • Displays stiff mobility, such as holding his tail tight up with hair standing

  • Compulsive behaviors like frequent scratching, can cause skin sores

  • Deliberately ignoring or hiding from most cats or a new pet

  • Ignoring cat food, even a special treat or two (a commonly overlooked sign of anxiety!)

  • Subtle signs of anxiety like being a bit scared of using food dishes or the litter box daily

It is crucial to reach out to a pet homeopathy professional or some other expert as soon as you notice signs of cat anxiety. Treat anxiety during its early stages or else it will just become worse sooner or later.


Factors that Can Trigger Anxiety in Cats

man with his pets

Now that we've finished covering the common cat anxiety symptoms, the following are the possible "triggers" of your cat's anxiety:

  • Having a new family member (especially if you only have one cat of a very young age)

  • Sudden environmental changes

  • A traumatic event that causes or is used to cause a painful physical condition

  • Severe medical issues

  • Very short or hurried socialization period with other pets like cats and dogs

  • Incorrect treatment plan or behavior modification for your cat's anxiety

  • Unresolved bouts of anxiety that are already developing new triggers


The Biggest Reason Why a Cat's Anxiety Must Be Eased Immediately

cat lying down in bed

An anxious cat will just become more and more distressed and frightened over time. You should have ways to reduce stress or prevent anxiety, especially if you notice that this condition is triggered by sudden separation from a cat's environment.

Interestingly, cats can be emotionally attached even to the simplest things like scratching posts and litter boxes. Your cat may even experience anxiety if he feels that his territory is disturbed in the most subtle of ways!


A Cat's Environment Can Contribute to Anxiety

Lying cat

Generally, cats are not big fans of change. They like stability and they like to rule over their long-established territories. A significant change in their routine can mean stress and you might discover new aspects of your cat’s personality that were previously concealed.

Below are a few suggestions gleaned here and there (and from my own experience too because obviously, I have been through a lot!) and I hope they can help you to prepare your cat for his new home while keeping clear of anxiety at the same time:

1) Do everything slowly.

Don’t rush. Take your time. In any case, your cat will slowly have to get used to your belongings being carried around, but even prior to that, you can let your cat explore the empty boxes that will gradually pile up in the living room. Why not pack up with your cat? He will then think he is part of it too!

During the day of the move, place the cat in a closed room with a litter box, water and food, so that he doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the new people carrying the furniture. Your cat may experience anxiety via repeated exposure when he sees a lot of strangers around!

When you arrive in your new house, place him in a closed room. Make it comfortable as can be. Put food all around the area so that he can bite into his favorite treat as he is exploring the new place. Having a sense of comfort can significantly help curb anxiety.

Let him explore the new house gradually and in a relaxed way, ideally when all the unpacking is over. You can proceed one room at a time so that he doesn’t feel overwhelmed or stressed. Let him play and run around. You can think of this as behavior modification through controlled exposure.


2) Give your cat more affection than usual.

Cats are very receptive to affection. They feel reassured if you pat them and play with them. But here's what makes anxiety in cats distinctive: it distorts normal behavior into something erratic like unnecessary hiding, escaping, peeing outside the litter box, etc.

To prevent that from happening, or at least to lessen these reactions, reassure him. Let him sleep on your lap, pat him as you’re watching TV, play with him, or scratch his throat. Anxiety is often triggered by strange sounds, faces and sensations. Soothe your cat with familiar experiences.

Your cat needs to feel that everything is okay and that you still love him, and that you haven’t abandoned him, and that there’s no danger whatsoever when he sees those dreadful boxes towering up in the living room. Repeat this process over and over to really keep anxiety at bay!

Your cat will benefit from your attention if it is given regularly throughout the whole process. Before you move, as you move, and after the move, make it a point to give your cat lots of love. Anxiety won't be able to take hold if your cat always feels secure and comforted.

3) Keep a regular routine.

As previously mentioned, cats don’t jump for joy when it comes to change. So that your cat doesn’t become overly upset, destabilized or experience anxiety, try to keep his routine the same as long as you can.

It may seem like nothing serious to you, but your whereabouts are like landmarks to your cat. If you neglect him because you have so much to do before you move, or if you come back at 3 AM and forget to feed him, or if new people suddenly come to your house—well, it’s more than enough to make your cat insecure, stressed out and ultimately go through bouts of anxiety.

When it comes to curbing anxiety in cats, maintaining a regular routine will do wonders.

4) Push the litter box a little further every day.

If your cat is peeing outside his litter box, it might be caused by stress—or he might just be prepping up for urine tests! Kidding aside, it might also have to do with the new litter box location and it's triggering bouts of distress. Your cat could be disoriented and simply not able to find it. Or he just may be in a state of intermittent anxiety and wants you to know it!

If you've created a home-based room for your cat for the time of the move, you can take the litter box and place it one foot further every day until the litter box "reaches its final destination." That way, your cat will slowly get used to the new location of the litter box and won't be prone to experiencing sudden anxiety.


5) If your cat used to go outside, wait sufficient time before you let him out again.

You should give your cat sufficient time to understand that this new "kingdom" is his and that his "subjects" are still the same. I have a friend whose cat was intelligent enough to leave through the front door on the day of the move, to explore the area as he wished, and then to come home by the back window on the same night.

You may take the risk if you wish, but I don’t think all cats would be able to find their way home on the first day. Chances are it's going to be you who will go through anxiety when this happens! Let him explore the house first, at least, for a couple of days and then you can start from there.


I inadvertently made the situation worse.

The first day was not too bad. The second day was tolerable. But the following days were complete torture. My cat would scratch everything, meow incessantly, pee on everything—even clothes, stacks of paper, underwear, and so on and so forth—and run around like crazy.


I finally gave in (and it somehow helped improve my cat's behavior).

So, to ease my agony (and especially his), I thought I would please him by letting him go outside as he was desperately in need of fresh air. I opened the door and took a risk. I was worried he might go far, lose his way, or worse, cross the highway near our house.

But I should have trusted him as he is quite intelligent. He walked around, explored a lot, found new places to wander and new mice to eat and he came back refreshed and so tired that he was content to just sit on my lap and bask in the love that the new surroundings could not offer him.


Know how to support your cat's brain chemistry.

Bottom line: if your cat can handle being indoors despite his habit, good for you. Let time pass and after a few weeks, let him go outside. However, if your cat is like mine, and you’re on the edge of going crazy because of his misbehavior, you can choose to trust him.

Let him wander around a little bit, waiting for him with treats so that he doesn’t go too far and is happy to return. He won't be as prone to anxiety this way.


My cat exhibits less signs of anxiety than before through the help of loving gestures and similar acts.

Remember, your cat might find the move to be not too upsetting after all if you follow at least some of these tips. And who knows? He might actually even enjoy the ride and start ruling over the new house sooner than you think without anxiety!

My cat is special. I have never seen a cat like him. He is not like the other cats. He is different. He is... the coolest cat on earth. I have never loved a pet so much. He needs tons of love, likes to snuggle all afternoon on our bed and is the cutest sleeper ever... ever. So, when he acts this way, all his irritating misbehavior fades away and I’m the happiest cat owner on the planet...


An All-Natural Product Formulated to Help Anxious Cats During Travel or When Moving

While you can easily reach for anti-anxiety medication when your cat experiences anxiety during a move, he can also be exposed to adverse side effects before you know it. Zumalka's TRAVEL PET is designed to to support your cat's well-being and comfort during travel.

Besides helping settle the stomach during travel and balance anxiety levels before and during trips, TRAVEL PET is also made with all-natural ingredients and a gentle holistic approach to keep adverse side effects at bay.

Make sure you contact us as soon as possible if you're looking to learn more cool tips like these. We are very excited to hear from you real soon!


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.

1 comment

  • Marla December 9, 2015 at 3:51 am

    When moving yourself. First have a friend or family member take your cat into their home in a quiet location. A large bathroom, laundry room, a area that can be blocked off from the commotion of the rest of their home and/or pets. Do not try to move out boxes or furniture while your cat is still in your home. While packing to move, pack up the room where the cat’s litter box is last
    After you have moved into the house, go get your pet from the cat sitters home. Move the cat into a smaller room with it’s litter box so while you are unpacking and making room for your cat’s items are being placed. Place those items FIRST. Once they know where the litter box is, they will return to it. They will put up with all the unpacking if you are light hear-ted about it and they will enjoy the boxes and wrapping paper to play in. Cats are highly emotional, moving is stressful on humans, if you are in a emotional up roar, your cat and your dog, your kids, everyone in your life will feed off that upheaval if you don’t take a chill pill yourself. Cats will feed off it ten times more easily than your loved ones will so get them into someone’s home you trust for a few days so they can be out of the mess and chill out until you have at least their items in place. Remember to take breaks often, have a cup of tea, sit down on a chair and let them get in your lap if that is what they are used to doing with you, while unpacking the rest of the house and pet them or feed them or spend ten minutes with them so they know they are OK and things will settle down quickly and they are not being ignored or up rooted. It might not be a bad idea to take those breaks for your own brain to settle down. Getting your shorts in a knot and getting all worked up in the mess of things is not healthy for you either.

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