Moving With Your Cat? Here Are Some Tips To Help Ease The Transition

May 23, 2023

I recently moved from California to Idaho in my small car packed with all my belongings,  plus my cat, Cleo. The trip took two days, several stops, and one sleepless night. I’m eternally grateful to the iced oat milk lattes that got me through that drive. It was long and arduous, especially with a cat. But, thankfully, I had prepared beforehand to make sure Cleo, and therefore I, had the best move. 

tortoiseshell cat in car looking outside the window

I reached out to several friends with cats and even talked to someone who runs an animal sanctuary and transports large and small animals. Their advice helped me better prepare for the journey ahead and alleviated my worries. The biggest thing I did to prep Cleo was to get her used to car rides. With the help of my sister, we took Cleo on several short rides. That way she would get used to the feeling of being safe in a car with us.

“Time spent with cats is never wasted.” – Sigmund Freud


Best tips for moving with your cat

Consider letting them free roam inside the car

Basically, there are two options when it comes to traveling with a cat, or even a dog. They can stay in a crate the whole time, or be free roaming. I intuitively knew my cat wouldn’t do well in a cage, nor did my car have the space for that. She’s a curious cat and loves to roam freely. Giving her that option felt like the best thing, so with practice (and patience), I was able to get to the point where Cleo napped in my lap during the car rides. I had already trained Cleo to wear a harness and leash, so luckily that wasn’t an issue. 

However, I did buy her a soft carrier to use when I transported her in and out of the car. It was mainly for her safety, but I wanted to keep it in the car as an option for her to sleep in as well. I made sure to buy the carrier at least a week before the move. That way she could acquaint herself with it, and sure enough I found her sleeping in the open carrier in my room. Success! 

“Indeed, there is nothing on this earth more peaceful than a sleeping, purring cat.” – Jonathon Scott Payne

Feliway calming spray

Another suggestion given to me by the lady who runs an animal sanctuary was to use a spray called Feliway. This spray, according to their website, sends “happy messages” to cats and helps them feel safe and secure. It uses natural feline reassuring messages to keep cats calm. I bought the spray and used it inside Cleo’s carrier every day. So when she first got into the car I had her in the soft carrier that I had sprayed. She didn’t meow a lot, so I knew it was working. 

Make sure there is a little box inside the car

During the move, about 10 minutes into the drive I could tell she had enough of being in the carrier. She was let out to roam, and then immediately used her litter box. Having an accessible litter box in the car for your cat is a huge must! Especially because the motion of driving can upset their sensitive stomachs. I bought a disposable litter box and doggy poop bags and had them prepped in the car for her. Changing up their litter, or even food, is never a good thing to do during a big move, so I made sure she had her normal litter in there. 

Make sure there is water

Cats might not eat during the drive due to stress. However, it’s important to make sure they do have access to water. You can put water in a travel-type water dish, or just a shallow bowl will work. I would also recommend using high-quality CBD brands to help with your cat’s anxiety, but every animal is different so make sure to start small and experiment before the move. Always check with your veterinarian beforehand too.

Try CBD pet treats

A great vegan pet CBD brand is called Heel. Check out their products here. I ended up using a brand of cat treats that contain a blend of thiamine, l-theanine, and chamomile, all of which promote relaxation in cats. Cleo seemed to really like those treats so I’m glad I found those. 

Floral essences for pets

After the move, I started giving her a flower essence. Flower essences, mostly used by humans, are great for all kinds of ailments. Essentially, it uses the properties of flowers and plants in the form of concentrated tinctures to help alleviate certain symptoms. I was using them myself and just so happened to discover that the company I use also has pet blends! Even more serendipitously, I found a blend called New Home that was designed to help animals adapt to new homes. You can buy the blend here. It’s best to sneak it into their food or water, as they won’t even be able to know it’s there. Using the tincture will help acclimate your cat to the new environment and changes occurring. 

“What greater gift than the love of a cat?” – Charles Dickens

As for Cleo, she’s a happy cat now. It took her about a week to get used to the new apartment. My suggestion with post-move would be to add 1–2 more litter boxes (depending on how many cats you have and how big the space is) to your new place just so your furry friend won’t have any accidents. It can be quite confusing to move to a brand new layout and cats need to reestablish their routines in new places. This can take some time, so be patient. Thanks to these tips you’ll be rest assured that your cat will have the easiest transport. After a while, the whole move will be a thing of the past, and you and your fur babies will be able to relax in a new home. 

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Photo: Jacob Thorson via Unsplash

Paige Butzlaff
Paige has been writing since she was 7 years old. She's an avid fan of reading, especially metaphysical books, and sipping on matcha tea lattes. An ethical vegan, Paige is passionate about activism and raising awareness. Her passions also include yoga and cats. She calls Southern California her home and the Universe her playground. Follow Paige on Instagram @beingpaige and YouTube.


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