The 5 Steps to Helping Your Cat Adjust to a New Home

My girlfriend's parents are going on a trip, and they asked me to take care of their cat while they are gone. I live in a large enough apartment to accommodate the cat and ensure she has plenty of space to explore.

Before moving her, I researched the best way to transport her and get her used to my home as fast as possible. Remember that transporting a cat and introducing them to a new home is a stressful event for them. 

I used the tips below to make sure she felt safe and home within a few hours.

1. Transporting your cat

Cats don't like car rides in general. To transport your cat safely and adequately, you might want to use a cat carrier. 

In my case, the cat had been used to car rides from an early age and was only mildly stressed. 

A friend gave me a trick to help relax the cat: put a cover on the carrier. It may sound counter-intuitive since the cat cannot see. However, this will help make the ride smoother, and you will see the cat relax.

In my case, I used the cat's favorite blanket, and I placed it over the cat carrier to block any light. Within seconds of placing the blanket on, the cat relaxed and was calm until we reached our destination half an hour later.

If this is the first time using your cat carrier, try to get your cat to know it a few days before moving them. You may keep it open in your home and place their blanket or toys inside until they explore it and deem it safe. 

2. Creating a safe room

Whenever you introduce a new pet to your home, you will want to create a safe room for them. Here is my definition of a safe room:

  • The room has food, water, litter
  • The room has their bed, favorite blanket, and toys
  • The room can be closed 
  • The room is baby-proof: no sharp objects, things that can fall, etc.

This room will be their room for the first day at least, and most likely the room they will sleep in even if you let them explore the rest of your home.

If your household already has other pets, such as dogs, make sure you read my article on the topic, as it contains the exact steps to take.

If possible, try to include a couple of cardboard boxes and an option for them to sleep above floor level. Cats like to see the whole room from a vantage point to feel safe.

3. Getting your home ready

When being brought to a new environment, cats' first instinct will be to escape. It may happen right away or the next day when they see a window cracked open.

Before bringing your cat to their new home, go through each room and close all windows and any other type of escape they could use. Do this as if you were baby-proofing your home, keeping in mind that this baby can jump high! 

Keep paying attention to closing doors and windows once your home is ready and the cat is in their safe room. Inform your other family members and friends coming to your home to pay attention.

4. Slowly let your cat explore

It is good to keep your cat inside their safe room for the first day at least. However, the cat I am caring for, Luna, is curious in a good way, so I decided to let her explore my apartment the very first day. 

If you notice your cat is pretty relaxed, you can do the same thing right away.

If, on the other hand, you notice your cat is anxious, then you should do everything in your power to help them relax in their safe room for the first day or two.

Later, you will let them explore the rest of your home under your supervision. At this point, you still want to keep everything closed and make sure your cat cannot escape.

5. Letting your cat go outside

You know your cat best. Once you feel like they are accustomed to their new home, it's time to go outside. Keep in mind that if your cat is used to staying inside, this step is entirely optional. However, if you lived in a house before and moved to a new place and your cat is used to roaming free outside, then it's time to make it happen!

I would wait at least a week until letting your cat go outside. They need to know their new home like the back of their paw first. Also, remember that if cats don't feel safe, they will try to escape, which you want to prevent in a neighborhood they don't know well.

Final thoughts

Cats and dogs are different in many different ways. For instance, dogs love car rides. You can read my article about this: 8 Reasons Why Dogs Love Riding in Cars.

Cats get stressed in new environments, and you need to take your time to help them feel safe during the ride and in their new home. Like humans, they need a few days to process and truly feel at home.


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Written by Leo Roux

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