Moving house with an indoor cat: you need to move house and have a cat or two? It can be challenging to move with a cat, especially with an anxious cat, trust me. I moved 3 times in a year with one of the shyest and anxious cat. He still loves me, and he still alive. I learned a lot.

Moving house with an indoor cat is challenging because you have to make sure your cat is not too stressed. You have to arrange a comfortable trip, possibly with familiar toys and things with his smell, and your smell as well, like a blanket or shirt. In the new home, better place him in a room with all his favorite toys and things for a while until he gets used to the new place. Overall, one has to care to keep some stable points for him in the transitions.

I am going to give you some great tips.

Moving house with an indoor cat - Pinterest Pin


Moving house with an indoor cat can be traumatic…for the cat! And at the same time, it is even more traumatic for a cat owner who loves his cat and has to put him through such an ordeal.

I know this because I moved 4 times within a year, including changing continent! I think my cat really hated me for doing this to him, the alternative was to leave him behind with someone else, but I figured that he would have been heartbroken.

The first move was a mess. I had to chase him around the house. I wasn’t prepared for what it would really mean to try to have him travel. He knew something was wrong as soon as he saw me packing. It was a bit rough.

Fortunately, we moved 30 minutes away, so his nightmare was short, but it was terrifying for him. He was traumatized. I did not prepare much for him in the new house, and I had to leave him alone right away to go back and complete the move. So he was alone in a new place, without me.

He would not move from a corner and would spend a lot of time under the bed. It was horrible, but it helped me to understand many things I could have done to make the experience less traumatic for him.

He did not “speak to me” for 2 or 3 weeks; he did not come to kiss me in the morning anymore, he would hide from me, and overall he was holding a grudge. You have to know that my cat was already timid and he would scare easily. Image his terror! I tell those stories because I took away many lessons; it is not for entertainment alone.

The other moves were still traumatic for him, but I was a bit more experienced and could make him more comfortable when leaving, and at the destination, I knew exactly how to get him out of his shell very quickly.


Cats have different personalities; some cats like to be in the car with their owner; they can walk on a leash. Some cats like to go to the sea and go on adventures. There are many videos on YouTube of such cats. But those are not the routine.

Cats normally do not like to travel in cars, airplanes, or other vehicles. Indoor cats especially are not used to meeting people or are not accustomed to sounds you can find in airports or streets. Some cats have friendly personalities and do not mind, but most cats stress and are afraid of changes and hate to be forced into new environments.

Here ten things to know when moving house with an indoor cat:


If your cat holds a grudge against you once you arrived at the new house, don’t be surprised. It can happen; give him time and space to adjust. Eventually, he will. Make him a space with his favorite toys, bed, and things he used to sleep, play, or sit on when he was in the old house. It will help him to relax since he finds his scent on those objects.

Do not force him too much out of his grudge with you; possibly go a couple of times near his hiding place and give him some treats and talk to him for a bit. He will relax a bit more.


You can start putting toys or his favorite blanket in the carrier to have it with him during the trip. The first time I moved with my cat, I totally failed.

The second time I had a larger carrier, I put a soft cushion under the carrier, the one he used to sleep on, and put one of my shirts with a blanket, so he had my scent and his own scent in the carrier. I try to recreate his home in the carrier.

He freaked out much less with this setup. I also took out the carrier a couple of days before and placed it on the floor so he could start smelling it and take a tour inside. He had some familiarity with it.


The second time we moved, he was in the same carrier with his sister cat; in fact, I adopted another cat, she was still a kitten, so he could have a friend to play with during the day. The kitten was not so afraid to travel; she had a very open personality, the total opposite of his. So in the carrier, when he was afraid, he was going closer to the sister and snuggled with her. So cute. He took comfort in her, and she was thrilled to help him.

It was funny that such a big cat would scare so much more than a kitten. She seemed to be excited instead. Since she was also a familiar figure traveling with him, he was a bit less stressed. Even though I could see that he was terrified of the entire procedure, at least he could snuggle with his sister through the trip.


To help your cat adjusting, you have to become his servant and attendant for a few days and maybe weeks. My cat used to find a corner under a bed and hide there for days; he would not drink, would not eat, would not go to the bathroom; he would corner himself under a bed and curl up. I could swear he would stay in that position like a stone for days.

I started to bring food very close to him, with water. I put a blanket next to him or his bed, as well. So he would have his bed, water, and food in that corner. He would have to move just a bit to reach everything. After a few hours of placing food and water, I saw that he actually cleaned the plate and drank. He was also sleeping on the blanket instead of the floor. After a day, I was worried he would not go to the bathroom, so I brought the litter box under the bed too for a bit; as soon as he did his business, I took it away and placed it back in the designed spot.

I had to do this for days until he took courage and started to roam around the house; at this point, I place water and food in the designated areas, and he was good to go. He took much less to relax and adapt when I did this with him; I also prevented him from dehydrating and starve, I guess.


Without overdoing it, I would spend some time checking up on my cat, crawling under the bed, of course, and I would give him treats. I totally try to win him back with it. I would not do it too many times, maybe three or four times a day.


Moving house with an indoor cat means that your cat is scared and stressed; when in a new house, he has to stay in a room where only you are coming in or out. No strangers, otherwise he is going to stay under the bed for 2 more weeks. He is better to be left to chill for a bit, so he can be sure that nothing else is coming to “try to kill him.”


I don’t know which one of the two was more stressed. Was it me or my cat? I don’t know; I was freaking out about my cat being terrified all the way to the new house. Like if by being worried, I could make my cat less worried. I think I arrived at the new home each time emotionally destroyed. When I arrived at the new house, I was all over my cat in the first move, who wanted only to be left in peace.

Once you are traveling there isn’t anything more to do, all the preps can be done before or after the move. Once you have done your job properly, you are done. Leave some space for your cat. He wants to chill off and rest. The way to not be emotionally crushed is to make sure you do everything possible to lessen the stress for your cat when you can, before departing and upon arrival.


While my cat was dramatic and hiding for days under the bed, my other cat, his little sister, was so excited in the new house that she started roaming around, smelling, and jumping all over. She was still a kitten. Somehow kittens don’t care.

Ok, she did not like the plane at all, but she was calmer through the rest of the travel, and as soon as in the new home, she was acting normal, sniffing and moving around, even playing. If you are lucky, you may have a cat react this way. Good for the cat and good your health!


Even though you may feel horrible for putting your cats through a move, and they do become upset, deep inside, they still love you. They are just too stressed for what they are going through. But they love you, and you need to be around them, making sure they feel you are there if they decide to go around the house.


Cats stress a lot in traveling, but if it has happened a few times, they adjust much better for the next time. I think my cat, once we arrived at the last house, he took only 2 days to adjust and not weeks. So he can actually learn and adjust after a few times he went through moving. I hope I do not have to put him through another move for a while, though!


Here some related questions for “Moving house with an indoor cat” and related answer:

  • How long does it take for a cat to get used to a new home?

I gave you many examples of this; a cat can take 2 or 3 days at best and 2 months worse. Some cats may take longer, and some cats can take hours. If your cat is particularly shy and scared of things, it can be a longer run. A kitten may not care at all; she may even be excited to be in a new place; after all, there are many new smells and things to play with. Moving house with an indoor cat is a bit a shot in the dark until you have done it and can feel how your cat really reacts.

  • Can I let my cat out a week after moving?

If your cat is an outdoor cat, I would take things gradually and give more time to your cat to adjust. You may let him out with your supervision and let him explore the house’s surroundings for the first 2 or 3 weeks; when you see that he is comfortable and can orient himself, you can let him roam free. Just observe him and make sure he gets to know the surroundings and the new smells while watching him first.

  • Is it normal for cats not to eat after moving?

Yes, as I explained above, some cats may not eat for days. Just bring the food and water to them and leave them; if they feel safe, they will drink and eat. Cats will adjust and then start their normal food routines again. It may just take a while.


Moving house with an indoor cat can be stressful for you and your cat. I hope we were able to give you some good tips and let you laugh a bit. If you have more tips you want to add or comment and, write it in the comments below.


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