Cats are sensitive creatures of habit. Move their water bowl or rearrange the furniture,and they can get upset. Tear their house apart, put them in a car, drive them across the country, and dump them in a new home, and they may get stressed out, anxious, and even sick. If you’re moving with cats, you should think about how all stages of the move will impact them. Talk to your vet
Packing up your home is bound to cause some anxiety in your feline friends, but you can alleviate this by letting them get used to the packing supplies. Let them explore the boxes, both empty and full. Keep kitty’s food, water, litter box and scratching posts in the same spots for as long as possible, and try (it’ll be hard, we know) to keep their favorite hiding and observation posts intact for as long as possible.
On moving day, if at all possible, get your cats out of the house while the movers are working. See if you can board them or if a friend can pet sit them. The next best option is to put them in a place where they won’t be disturbed. A bathroom with the door shut is a good option, provided you have more than one and they won’t be disturbed. Give them food, water, a litter box, toys and a blanket or a towel to sleep on. If this isn’t feasible, put them in a carrier (one cat per carrier, positioned so they can see each other) in a spot where they will be out of the way. Provide them with a toy or two and a towel to sleep on.
The less they’ll be disturbed, the better your cats will react to the move, so wait until they’re out of the house or contained before picking up their food, water, litter box and other items. If the cats are still in the house when the movers are gone, let them out so they can explore, and reassure them with attention and treats.
The harder part will be driving long distances with the cat. Don’t feed them for a couple hours before you start driving, as cats can get car sick. Line their carriers with newspapers or paper towels in case of accidents, and be sure to position the carrier where it won’t slide around the car, but where the cats can see people and each other. Keep the volume down, as loud music can stress your cat even more. If you’re staying in a hotel with cats, let it explore the room, and leave the carriers open so they have a safe space to retreat to.
When it comes time to move the cats into your new home, wait until the movers are gone and the furniture is arranged. Just as when you moved out, keep them contained in a bathroom, or in their carriers in an out of the way spot. Set up food, water and litter boxes before you let them out to explore. Put their toys out for them to find, and also set up a retreat for them, either a box or basket with a view of the whole room, where they can sit and monitor the situation until they feel safe. Most of all, take the time to pay attention to your cat, and reestablish routines from before you moved.
Most cats will acclimate in a couple of days. Two warning signs that a cat isn’t adjusting to their new home are a friendly cat who becomes stand-offish, or a well-trained cat who stops using its litter box, but if you see lethargy, anxiety, and other behavioral changes after the move, you may want to seek out a vet.