Helping an animal adjust to a new home can be a daunting task. Moving an outdoor cat can be even more difficult. Your yard and neighbors' yards form the cat's territory that he has monitored for some time. Moving an outdoor cat requires creating a plan to prevent the loss of your animal when you reach your new home. Prepare your family for an unhappy, noisy kitty that will hide or complain mightily about not getting his way.
Converting from Outdoor to Indoor
According to the Humane Society, most outdoor cats don't live past the age of 5, as opposed to an 18- to 20-year life span for an indoor cat. The reasons include danger from cars, exposure to feline diseases, wild animals, getting lost and being stolen. Moving to a new home gives a cat owner the perfect opportunity to acclimate her cat to becoming an indoor pet. You'll have the added responsibility of having a litter box to dump but you could possibly save your cat's life and extend that life into old age. Seriously consider training your outdoor cat to be an indoor kitty.
Before the Move
Pack and empty out one quiet room or unused bathroom in your existing home. Move your cat's food, litter box, water and bedding into this room. Move your cat into the room about one week before your move. Plan to keep your animal in this room for the entire week and completely prevent the animal from getting outside. Securing the cat in the quiet room helps to calm the cat and also prevents an escape when outside doors open and close during the move.
Your cat should be the very first delivery to your new home. Gather up his kitty paraphernalia and transport the cat in a secure carrier. Move him into an out of the way room in your new home. Make sure no one opens the door to prevent the animal escaping outside during the move. This will allow the cat to adjust to new surroundings with minimal activity. Calming the cat with visits and pats will help him adjust much quicker. Your cat needs to adjust to new smells and the new house to establish memories for familiarity.
Learning the New House
It's best to leave the cat in a confined, comfortable room for the first few days. Give him attention and then allow the cat peace and quiet. He may hide or hiss when you visit, but he will eventually calm down. This waiting period encourages acceptance of the change in environment.
Close all outside doors before allowing your cat out of his secluded room. Give him time to investigate the new house and make sure family members don't open outside doors. Remember that your cat has no idea what outside actually is at his new home.
Some animal experts recommend waiting at least two weeks before allowing your cat outside on a harness or with close supervision. Do not allow your cat to roam the house until all outside doors are closed. Avoid making loud noises or chasing the cat. If he's cowering, give him time to hide. You cat won't be able to avoid the urge to explore his new surroundings.
Helping your Cat Adjust
Sometimes creating a special spot encourages the cat to relax in his new home. Place a cat perch near a window so he can gaze out at the birds and his new environment. Cats love to stretch out in the sun, so consider putting his perch in a sunny window. If you've planned to allow your cat outside at the new home, place a harness on the cat for four to five days before taking him for a walk on a leash. He'll become used to the weight of the harness. Click the leash on for a few minutes every day.
Some cats simply allow their owners to carry them everywhere. Others are much more reluctant to be handled. If you're one of those lucky owners, you'll be able to harness-train the cat quickly and allow the cat to roam under your close supervision. Don't simply open the door and let the cat out or you may never see him again. Grab a handful of treats and supervise the first outdoor explorations. Return the cat to the house after he explores some and increase this time every day.