Moving with Cats

August Birchbox
This isn’t the first time we’ve moved with two cats. We moved from our first home in Raleigh to the townhouse we just moved out of. And then from that home to our newest place! And each time we had two cats with us. 

I’m the more paranoid “cat parent” between my husband and I, so I make sure to take as many precautions as possible to make the cats comfortable AND to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible. 

Cats typically don’t deal as well with transitions as dogs, for example, and I want to do everything in my power to avoid a potential disaster (like marking their territory, peeing in our laundry basket, etc.). 

morning of the move. . .Gravy had no clue what that day held. 

So, on the day of the move, I confine the cats to a save room that everything is cleared out of. In this case it was our master bathroom. I put their favorite blankets in there, the litter box, their food and water, and a few toys. I know they’ll be scared/annoyed anyway, but I try to keep some level of normalcy for them.

As soon as we shut them into the bathroom, the meowing began. I feel bad that I can’t explain to them what is going on! I’d peek in there every once in awhile while the movers were moving the furniture and found them huddling in a corner, together, nervous as heck. I was glad to see they found comfort in each other though, since usually the only physical contact they have is wrestling. 

Once the house was cleared out, I went upstairs and opened the bathroom door. They reluctantly crept out, low to the ground, with their sniffers working over time. Suddenly everything was different.

We let them have free reign of the empty house while we moved into the new place (since doors were being opened constantly and there were loud noises). And once we were moved in to the new place, Justin and I drove back to the old house to grab the cats and a few leftover possessions.

We have a small dog crate that we put them in, which they hate, but it was only a short 10 minute drive so I didn’t feel too bad. We loaded them into the car last, and started driving. 

Gravy channels his inner lion and does a low, deep roar of disapproval and rage. Grits is a ltitle bit more wild and simply screams these high, drawn out meows. Justin and I laugh from the front seat, not making fun of them, but just laughing at how ridiculous they sound together. Every once in awhile they’ll manage to harmonize their meows too so that always instigates a good laugh.

We got to the new house, and Justin carried the cage into the living room. I left them locked in it for about 5 minutes so they could “observe the new space” from a “safe place”. Once we unloaded the car, we opened the door to the cage and let them come out on their own. 

They crept out, again walking low to the ground, and their noses were taking everything in. I wanted them to lay eyes on their litter box (even though I’m sure they can smell it) just so they knew where it was. Justin grabbed Gravy, and I grabbed Grits and we plopped them both down right in front of the litter box. They both sniffed and then moved on.

The rest of the day, both cats were exploring the new place. They traveled together, like a small two person gang staking out their terriftory. 

Grits found a quite, albeit awkward, sleeping spot behind our toilet in the master bathroom. I hope that changes eventually. Gravy, being a little more brave than Grits (which is why I sometimes call him “Bravy”), was chillen’ on the couch only a few hours after we brought them to the new place. I think it helped a lot that there were familiar smells (same furniture from old place) so it wasn’t a complete shock to their system.

We’ve been in the house now for a few days, and they have pretty much settled in completely. They sleep on the bed with us, come running for treats, and love exploring the screened in porch. 
the other night; Gravy is lounging and Grits is still sniffing everything in sight.


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Victoria says · 08.28.13

I enjoyed this post so much! We have two dogs and when we moved from our old rental, with carpet, to our new rental, with wood floors, our dogs had no idea how to walk! Needless to say, it took them a couple days to figure out and then they were completely fine! It’s so funny to watch our pets reactions to different things!!

Sarah {Limited Space Organizing} says · 08.28.13

I’m so glad you just posted this! I just found out we are moving this morning! We have a cat and she hates the whole moving process, I’m going to try some of your tricks to see if they’ll help. Except we are moving 3 hrs away from where we are now!! Yikes!


kelly says · 08.28.13

I just love your cat posts 🙂

It took quite an adjustment for our cats when we moved last July! We one so worked up that we ended up having to put him on some kitty prozac, Fluoxetene. Not joking! It was the vet’s idea. He is doing much better now! For as mellow as a cat that he was, I thought for sure he wouldn’t have any problems.

hkschulte says · 08.28.13

Glad it went well! It would just be soo much easier if you could tell them “you have to stay in here for just a little bit” or “we’re only going to the vet for a check-up, no shots!” I take my kitties to my parents’ house almost every weekend which is only a 10-minute drive, so they are very used to being in their carriers and in the car (I do get the “oh not again” looks until we get there, then it’s “ooh! grandma’s house! where’s the treats!”). Gotta love being a kitty-mommy!!

R2P2 says · 08.28.13

aw!! What a good kitty mommy, helping them adjust as calmly as possible.

One thing I am actually looking forward to is hearing your reports on how to help the kitties adjust to baby. We have one who LOVES being the center of attention/our lives, so I’ve already been doing a lot of research about helping kitty transition. Part of my mom’s job after visiting the hospital is to go back to our house with a hat that smells like baby. And I intend to invest in some Feliway diffusers when our little guy arrives in October. Have you heard of those?

M Budziak says · 08.28.13

My cats had quite a different experience (including a flight). Our stuff was transported separately from our travels to our new home, so we didn’t have furniture for ~2 weeks. As soon as we got to our new home, we let the kitties out of their crate and they went crazy with the sniffing & exploring. It was a pretty easy transition for them, no accidents or anything of that sort – the travel part was stressful for me though. They seem to enjoy the different levels our new places has 🙂 Gravy looks like my Gracey!

Shannon says · 08.28.13

Those names just crack me up!!! Grits and Gravy!
Our cat did very well in our moves!
Congrats on the new house and new bundle of joy!!

approaching singularity says · 08.28.13

You can get a pharamone plug-in (like a scented plug-in)at most pet stores. The scent helps relax the cats and it is undetectable for humans. I plug this in a few days before a move and then a few days after to keep the cats calm!


Lynn says · 08.28.13

Love your kitty post! You did a great job with their move. I also love their names. I have one Tuxedo cat named Skippy and I’ve been tempted to get a companion kitty for him. I just adore cats and love reading about yours! 🙂

shannon says · 08.28.13

sometimes in my head i pretend your cats are my cats. and i mean that in the least creepy way possible.

Michele Nicolette says · 08.28.13

Gosh, I hadn’t even thought of how our moving in the next month might affect our cats until I saw this. We’re moving to a new state so it should definitely be interesting. I’ll have to start doing some research to find ways to make it less stressful for them. I love the idea of getting some of the familiar stuff set up before letting them out of their carriers. And congrats on the new house! <3

Trisha Joy Carrillo says · 08.28.13

I wish you got video of them making their noises on the way to your new home! LOL But I am glad they have adjusted, they have the cutest personalities!

Jodie Melling says · 08.28.13

Great post! I have 2 cats Wolverine and Rogue who I love more than life haha.
When we moved to our current place Wolverine didn’t come out of the bedroom for 2 days as it’s on a main road and it was all scary and loud for him (we didn’t have Rogue then).

Jodie x

Melissa {Persnickety Plates} says · 08.28.13

I’m so glad they did well! We had a fire last year & moving the cats to the hotel was pretty terrible. I’m very impressed with how smoothly it went for you & your sister 🙂

Carolyn | The NCIDQ Diaries says · 08.28.13

We’re nowhere near selling our house (2-3 years!) but I worry about moving with my 2 cats so often!! Will they get out and try to sniff their way back!? Will they stop snuggling with us!?

Erin Cunningham says · 12.01.14

Hi. I know you posted last year but you said you wouldn’t be moving for awhile so I thought I’d reply. I’m moving in Jan. 2015. My cat, Magic, is an indoor kitty. He does not mind traveling in his carrier. Regardless, I just got him a micro chip just to be safer. I will be keeping him in carrier while the movers are here and until we’re at new place, (not too far away.) I can’t see him getting out given the circumstances. But I decided that since he’s an all black cat that looks just like all the wild black cats in my neighborhood I’d rather be safe than sorry. If your cats are outdoor kitties I’d suggest getting them each a microchip. I’d also advise reading all the stuff on net about moving with cats. Lots of good stuff. And lastly, once they’ve adjusted to new home I believe they’ll be back to snuggling you in no time. Please read stuff on internet about moving with cats. Read about before, during and after move before you even get started. And when it’s time to start packing, let then check out empty boxes first and tell them the scoop…that you will remain together, no matter what. Best of luck. PS I’m still nervous about how Magic will do but I’m trying to stay calm for him. He’s my most important package. 😉

Nikki says · 08.28.13

Congrats on your new home! I have a cat too and she doesn’t enjoy moving either. I think you handled it very well!

Miss ALK says · 08.28.13

This post was too cute!! Glad your kitties have settled in well, and congrats on the move!

xoxo Miss ALK

Nora Rose says · 08.28.13

Selling our house got our cats very used to travel as I was too paranoid to leave them at home during open houses (they’re escape artists) as well as a few trips to our parents seemed to get them use to it. One guy is so mellow in the car but our other one cries and cries unless she’s held (and then tries to escape). They seem to like our new house but not as much as the other one…

Leslie: DowntownHaute says · 08.28.13

Aww so cute!

My cats hate to travel and have only moved once and they totally freaked out but got used to the new place in no time!


heatherhomefaker says · 08.28.13

We just moved into a new house last week … along with howling nonstop the first night, our kitty knocked a half-empty gallon of paint from a high shelf in the garage. The top popped off, and we woke up to find gray paw-prints all over our bed, new floors and couch. So that was fun 🙂 (He’s completely settled in now!)

Holly Elliott says · 08.28.13 Reply
Melissa says · 08.28.13

This is funny because it’s the complete opposite of the experiences I’ve had moving with dogs. Our dogs have always been like “Oh boy oh boy oh boy! A new place! My favorite!” 😀 LOL

Amber R. says · 08.28.13

Yay!I’m glad the transition went so well for them,you (and your sis) are such great kitty moms :)we hear horror stories all day everyday from clients about moving with their cats and developing inappropriate marking behaviors,so it is nice to hear someone doing the transition slowly and CORRECTLY.As a vet tech I love your stories about Grits and Gravy,but then I guess I am part of the CCL club 🙂

tattooedteacherintexas says · 08.28.13

it sounds like it went really smoothly! i have moved my cats a couple of times and they are SUCH divas…and then totally fine. they make me laugh with their weird noises sometimes too!

Dionna Sanchez says · 08.28.13

Getting ready to move with mine and am a little nervous as she is a scaredy cat and it’s a 2-3 day drive! I just bought some spray today that’s supposed to help calm her and some puppy pee pads for her carrier. Although her carrier is small and I’m rethinking that one. I know she will hate it – but I will do my best.


Carolina Belle says · 08.29.13

My Lilly gets so stressed out any time she sees cardboard boxes, I have to put her in a bathroom too. I like to move her once I have her litter box and scratching posts set up. Cats are so odd when it comes to their “territory”.

Pneu says · 08.29.13

I read the title and got excited because I thought this was going to be a post about exercising with cats. Guess not…

Hope the aftermath of your move is going smoothly and that you get a chance to sit down and relax soon!

BabyWatch says · 08.29.13

I was really scared that my cat wont’t make when we moved from the city to the countryside – she was 18 years old. I was glad when everything went ok, she was such a trooper. Still get teary eyed when I think of her last day, she somehow managed to get to my room (although she could barely stand) and fell asleep by my side.

Everday Fashion says · 08.29.13

Thanks for this post. I am moving in a few weeks and have been trying to figure out how to keep the cats calm and happy. For one of ours cats this will be the first move.

Jessica Anderson says · 08.29.13

My boyfriend just got a new entertainment center and you would have thought we had up and moved our 3 cats to a whole new house the way they were acting. They didn’t even freak out that much when we introduced my cat to his house with his 2. I can’t imagine what might happen if we ever get married and move in together. I think it might be the end of the world for the poor kitties.

Enchanting Emerald says · 08.29.13

I so enjoyed this post! I’m thinking of getting cats in the future, and I never really thought of this situation before… Thank you!

amber says · 08.29.13

My dog, Harley, does NOT handle change very well, especially moving, and he takes out his stress by peeing on our couch. And not just a little piddle of pee–it’s like he saves a couple of days worth and lets it loose on the couch. Very frustrating. He did the same thing after we found out we were pregnant. We’re trying to gradually bring in baby stuff (and we let him sniff it and get well acquainted with it), because when we abruptly brought in a glider, Harley was terrified by it–he stood on the other side of the room, just barking at it for days. After I sat in it, to show him that it was okay, he refused to have anything to do with me for like half an hour. He’s a little special.

Jill C. says · 08.29.13

Hahaha, cats are so funny! They get so set in their ways and really don’t approve of any change. I love it. My dogs adjusted quite well to our move form Dallas to Oxford, MS. As long as they have food and toys, they’re good to go.

Sam Esh says · 09.02.13

Wow, this is a helpful blog! We just moved and we have a cat that won’t stop running away to our old place! I figured after a day or two the cat would be adjusted but its been a month and the cat runs away almost everyday! Needless to say the new tenants of our old home are becoming our friends because we see them so often! We used some moving services in San Diego and they took care everything but the cats! Maybe we should have let them take of that cause everything they brought has stayed! Don’t get me wrong I love my cat to death but, I’m frustrated with the cat. Any suggestions on how to keep it from running away?

Hailey Andersen says · 09.19.13

Grits and Gravy- what great names! I feel your pain/amusement with the whole “moving with cats” thing. We started looking at these awesome Lake Norman homes for sale and finally took the plunge a few months ago. After our move, my cat Tasha slept in a hole in the lining of my boxspring for the first week.

Nancy Jorden says · 10.09.13

I would love to move to chicago someday. I think it would be so pretty to live there.

Helen says · 10.19.13

So cute! I heard that sometimes when you move house, cats try and find their way back home which is why a lot of them go missing. It sounds like you took the time to get your cats accustomed to the new place rather than picking them up and plopping them down. I hope you all enjoy your new territory.


Luke Johnson says · 01.31.14

I’ve heard that if you take your cats to the apartment before moving in they can get to know the apartment without anything familiar and then when you move your things in they can familiarize themselves faster. It’s great that they didn’t try to go back to your old house like so many end up doing.

Luke |

Deborah Buchanan says · 02.07.14

This post was too cute!! Glad your kitties have settled in well.
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Matt Dart says · 02.17.14

Great to hear the cats have settled in well. What you said with ” I think it helped a lot that there were familiar smells (same furniture from old place) so it wasn’t a complete shock to their system.” is definitely true! Another thing is to try and get as much done as possible without disturbing your pets so what you’ve done here looks like it’s done a world of good for your kitties!

John Plabon says · 03.29.14

My partner and i hate Moving too, however as well My partner and i receive truly nervous and also thrilled to go explore the brand new commencing

Thea Davis says · 04.02.14

We also moved recently and my cat needed a month to get use to the new place for it’s noisier than the previous one. I felt bad he was anxious, but there was nothing to be done. It’s a big relief he finally got used to the place.

Louie Donovan says · 04.21.14

Love your blog and also those cute cats, looks like they are getting used to the new home.
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Housemovers says · 05.29.14

Nice post. The house movers will show up on time, pack what they have to pack then load it into the truck or van and get it started in its journey to your new home.

Jenny says · 07.30.14

This is so adorable. Your cats seem to take moving calmly, just like mine. I moved last month with my only cat, and after reading your story, I’m already considering of getting another. Lately, I’ve been giving people guidlines on how to move with their cats without stressing out the poor creatures, and I’ve been using this guide: for orientation. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but you pretty much did the most important stuff XD Still, the best thing is that the ride wasn’t long and the cats weren’t too anxious. I can’t say the same for other people, who told me about the most extreme situations with their stressed felines.

April Gold says · 05.18.15

Lovely article! I have two cats and we are going to move in another ton because of my job. I know that the moving process might be stressful for them but I am sure that they will like the new apartment because it is bigger. They will have more space to play! Regards!

Ina says · 07.03.15

Your cats are beauties! I’ll be moving in two months and all I can think of is how will my cat coop with the change and how long will it take to adapt to our new house. They say cats adapt fast, I hope it’s true…

Mandissa says · 07.13.15

Glad they settled in quickly! I use to live in Europe with 1 cat but then I moved to the Middle East for 5 years and i adopted another cat. Now after these years i brought them both with me today. They knew something was odd all month since the house was slowly emptying itself. They were absolutely terrified at the airport however I tried my best to reassure them. it was a 6 hour flight. When we arrived in my old home it was amazing to see how my first cat recognised the place. She started meowing and jumping everywhere – Longing to go outside in the grass. She even started to do her claws in her old spots only an hour after arriving! The second one however who has only ever experienced the hot sunny desert was very confused. He sniffed every single corner of the house extremely wary. He is currently with me on my bed and seems pretty happy, there are a lot of hiding places for him in this house as it is much comfier that the other one. My only worry is that perhaps he might miss the warm weather and possibly run away to find his way back? He does appear much calmer and relaxed and glad to be with me though. Nonetheless; another issue is on its way. I must go visit some houses in Switzerland as that is where I will be moving to next in a few weeks and that will be another change yet again for both cats…

Dianne L says · 09.30.15

This is everything that I needed. I will soon have to move for the first time since I have my cat and I want everything to go as planned with no stress for my lovely pet. Thank you for sharing all the advice. You’re amazing! Definitely sharing the post with all my friends.

Mary Ball says · 10.14.15

Lovely post! Quite helpful in fact. ‘m moving with my cat in the beginning of the next year and I’m already planning and organizing. I have some worries, but also have too much stuff to finish with before the big day comes. I hope Shadow will do fine like your cats did, because it’s her first move. Greets!

John Black says · 01.15.16

Moving is not easy at itself , but if you are moving with pets, ist even harder.
Its good, that there are some good people out there, who give good advise how to handle things better.Thank you for that.
I can suggest moving company, they do pet moving as well

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Man and Van says · 02.12.16

Moving is certainly a nerve-wracking job. If the procedure not handled professionally, things can go haywire. It is best to consult a company which are efficient and professional enough to carry out the process and make the moving experience as smooth as possible.

Moving to Catford says · 06.06.16

Your cats look so adorable! They must have had a hard time accepting the new place in the beginning. I can relate to this feline behaviour in terms of getting used to new environment – at first I struggle to leave my comfort zone, but then I gradually make myself at home.

Linda Norris says · 09.02.16

they are really sensitive about moving. I have moved her old pillow to the storage container and she want there and didn’t want to get out, it was really weird and cute at the same time.

Lauren says · 01.11.17

Thank you so much for writing this post and for how easy it was to search for it!! We will be doing a move with 2 cats here soon and I have been very concerned on the best ways to handle it for them.

Simon Israel says · 05.23.18

Best Guide on Moving House With Your Cat – Pet Relocating Tips and Advice
Moving house is one of the most stressful period. According to statistics and experience, unfortunately cats feel more stressed out than a human, even if it’s the calmest cat in the world. Some may become upset even to the owners, as they have no clue what is going on and why perhaps against their will.

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