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3 Tips for Moving Your Cat Long-Distance

Keep your cat safe, happy, and healthy during your move.

C. Tarantino

June 5, 2023

If you’re a cat parent, you know that every feline has a built-in capacity to do their own thing. Tell a dog to walk, and they’ll happily wag their tail and come along. Transfer a fish to a new aquarium, and they won’t tell the difference. But taking a cat along with you during a cross-country move? It might not be easy!

Relocating with your kitty doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. With just a few tips, you and your cat can move to your new home without any incidents (except maybe a hairball or two).

1) Keep Them Close

Cats are often described as “territorial,” meaning that they form connections with the objects and spaces around them. While you might see our old living room couch and think, “Hmm, might be time to upgrade,” your cat would view the same couch as a key landmark of their home territory. By spreading their scent to toys, furniture, and other parts of your home, cats associate a space’s items with feelings of safety and ownership.

When you move to a new home, all of your cat’s carefully-built scent connections change or disappear. Recently-relocated cats are at an extremely high risk of running away: sadly, many of these lost cats are simply trying to find their old homes.

To keep your cat safe during your move, be sure to:

  • Buy a harness and leash: Keep them on a well-fitting harness and leash (that is custom-made for their size) when traveling outdoors.
  • Update their collar and chip: Change your cat’s collar and chip information with any of your updated personal information, such as your new address.
  • Keep them inside for two weeks: Cats tend to run away from unfamiliar places. To keep your cat safe and comfortable, keep them inside for their first two weeks.

2) Cozy Up the Crate

If your cat hasn’t traveled before, there’s a good chance they’ve never stepped paw in a crate. Unfortunately for them, they’ll need to be secured for both car and plane travel.

Cars: To keep you and your cat safe, your cat needs to stay in an enclosed and secured crate during the trip. Not only does a loose cat run the risk of distracting you while driving, but your cat is also at a higher risk of running away or getting injured while free to roam.

Planes: Most airlines have a simple rule: your cat needs to be in an enclosed crate during travel. Don’t forget to double-check your airline's dimension requirements before buying your crate.

Once you’ve bought the perfect crate, introduce it to your cat several weeks before traveling. If all goes well, your cat will translate their scent to their new crate and feel more comfortable during travel. Try placing the crate in a room your cat enjoys, such as near their litter box or favorite sunning spot. Leave the crate open and fill it with a few cat-friendly items: treats, toys, and favorite blankets.

3) Pack the Litter Box

Whether you’re traveling by air or by land, your cat is going to have to stop for bathroom breaks. To make potty time clean and simple, shop around for an on-the-go litter box.

Every on-the-go litter box will share some base characteristics, such as being water- and odor-proof. The differences lay in the shape and size of the litter box itself. You have three styles to choose from:

  • Foldable/Collapsable: Perfect for a tight squeeze, foldable and collapsible litter boxes can be compacted when not in use. Although foldable and collapsible litter boxes are extremely handy and easy to pack, they may be too small for some large cats to use comfortably.
  • Dish: Dish litter boxes can not be collapsed, but are still designed to prevent odors and messes while on the road. Dish litter boxes are great for larger cats who need the extra room.
  • Covered: As a bonus feature, some on-the-go litter boxes include a canopy covering for extra-shy kitty bladders. If your cat has a tough time going on the go, a covered litter box may do the trick.

Get Help from the Pros

If your cat is like most cats, they expect just about all of your attention. With help from a professional moving team, you’ll have the space to give your cat all your time and then some.

Professional moving companies take the time and physical effort out of moving by boxing, packing, hauling, and unpacking all of your belongings. All you have to do is pick a date and a destination.

For a head start on finding the perfect moving company for your big day, check out our list of the best professional movers in the USA:

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