Moving cats can be tricky. The first few weeks for a cat in a new home are important, and will have a significant effect on how happy your cat will be in the future. Bad experiences at this stage can sour a cat’s view of life in a new place. One of the most important things to consider at this stage is that it is always best to start as you mean to go on. If you don’t want your cat to sit on the furniture, or to climb on the kitchen work tops, now is the time to establish these rules.
Just as the early experiences in a new house colour a person’s relationship with that home, so it has a similar effect on a cat. A cat should feel welcome, safe and content right from the start.
A cat that is unhappy in its new home may try to return to its old one, so it is advisable to watch its movements carefully, at least until it has settled in.
Cats have travelled huge distances to find their former homes. Few cats that try to do this succeed, however; most become strays or are killed in traffic accidents.
A cat must be allowed to establish its own territory in its new home — its own bed, its own feeding area, its own favourite sleeping quarters.If something traumatic or unpleasant happens to a person in the first few weeks of their stay in a new house, this is bound to colour their attitude to that house. And so it is, too, for a cat.
HOME SWEET HOME
A cat must therefore associate its new home with things that are pleasant, warm, comfortable and enjoyable, and then it will be perfectly happy to stay. But if its experiences are in any way frightening or unpleasant, at a time when it may be feeling slightly unsure of itself, it may not be quite so happy.
It is important to make your cat feel welcome and loved. It is probably best if your new cat moves in during a period whenyou (and your family) are at home a lot (a weekend or holiday period, for example) so you can make a fuss of it at regular intervals.
However, you must be careful not to ‘spoil’ your cat and let it do exactly as it pleases. Like children, cats understand rules, and they seem to respect them. It is always best to start as you mean to go on. So if you don’t want your cat to sit on the furniture, or to climb on the kitchen work tops, or to sleep on your bed, now is the time to establish these rules. A firm tone, and, if necessary, a plant spray will make your feelings clear. It’s amazing how quickly cats establish habits, and later may already be too late to break bad ones.
A cat that is used to leading a housebound existence is likely to settle in easily in a new home. A cat that is used to its freedom, on the other hand, will need more attention. It will need special care for at least a month in order to make sure that it does not wander away and either get lost or perhaps try to reach its old home. If your cat is used to wearing a lead and harness, it would be a good idea to exercise it outside on a lead. Failing that, it should be carefully supervised when it makes its first few outings, and then encouraged to come home again by the offer of appetising food.