Cats can be very vocal, especially when they experience fear brought by environmental changes. Some breeds, such as Siamese, are more vocal than others and can cause you (and some of your neighbors) sleepless nights.
If you have recently moved to a new residence, it might be challenging for your cat to adjust to the new home. While some cats need around two weeks to get used to their new home, others might take more weeks or months to settle in.
At a time like this, it is crucial to pay attention to your cat’s needs. Your patience, love, and reassurance are essential to help your anxious feline calm down and adjust quickly to your new abode.
In this post, we have compiled everything you need to know about your cat’s excessive yowling after a move, and some ways you can help him cope with this big change.
Why is your cat meowing after moving?
If you are a cat owner, you are probably used to your cat’s meowing. Snowball could meow if he needs attention, feels hungry, wants to find a mate, or is simply feeling bored. But this could get worse if you have recently moved to a new residence, and this noisy behavior can be especially frustrating at night.
Here are a few reasons your four-legged companion might meow more after moving:
Most cats feel extremely uncomfortable in unfamiliar environments. In the absence of familiar smells and sounds, your cat might mistrust his new surroundings and feel vulnerable or threatened. The huge change in his surroundings, accompanied by an unstable daily routine, might cause him to vocalize his heightened anxiety.
Not properly introduced to the new home
If you do not properly introduce your feline to the new house, chances are he might experience a degree of shock and resort to yowling. He may also have problems navigating the new space, and might cry for help if he feels lost.
Unfamiliar scents and sounds
Cats rely heavily on smells and sounds for survival. Their solitary hunter instinct is ingrained in their DNA, and for their safety, they avoid messing with other cats in the area by using their scent to convey territorial messages. Hence, the presence of unfamiliar smells and sounds can make your cat feel very insecure in his new home.
Thirst and hunger
Juggling the stress of moving, work, and your own personal needs can sometimes make you forget your furball’s regular mealtime, and he might meow to remind you of his needs.
Cat meowing at night in the new house
Cats are known to be active at night, which is the best time for their hunting escapades. Aside from exploratory meowing, your cat might also yowl at night if he is bored or wants to mate. But if you recently changed residence, then the culprit is obvious: Your cat hates the new environment and will probably keep you awake for a couple of nights.
Territorial animals like cats find security in familiar hiding places, so big changes like moving to a new house can cause them to vocalize their fear of the unknown or unexpected. We may not understand it, but for a cat, exposure to a completely new environment makes them feel vulnerable.
Ways to keep your cat calm after moving
If your cat’s whining has been bothering you for many days, you can try the following steps to help him feel more at ease in his new home:
1. Speak gently to your cat
For anxious cat, their owner’s scent and soothing voice is often enough to make them feel secure. Just like you would to a baby or a young child, speak gently to your furry companion to reassure him, even if he does not understand you. And, when he stops meowing and starts to calm down, immediately give positive reinforcement such as cuddles and praise.
2. Set up hiding places
Cats often find refuge in tight, hard-to-reach areas when they feel anxious or sick. So, before your cat chooses that narrow space behind your electrical appliance as the ideal hiding spot (which can be really dangerous, by the way), why not build him his own safe hiding place?
If you are creative enough, you can build hideouts out of used cardboard boxes or shoe boxes. Alternatively, if you have the extra money to spare and are too busy or lazy to build a cardboard hideout, you can also purchase a cat condo. This multilevel structure should be enough to distract your anxious feline from your furniture and other dangerous areas in your home. And who knows – he might actually forget about the stress of moving as he enjoys playing and curling up in his own little pad.
3. Maintain your usual daily routine
Cats do not like change. Just like their ancestors, our furry friends depend on external influences for their survival, and even the bravest cat will not be comfortable dealing with the unknown. Simple changes to mealtimes, for example, might make them afraid of not getting dinner at all.
During a move, you could become really busy with errands, groceries, and cleaning up, and this can throw your normal routines into disarray. It may even make you forget to feed your furball his favorite meal on time, or play and cuddle with him as you usually do in the evening. No matter how exhausting you find the transition, never forget to bond with your cat and maintain your usual routine together. A familiar schedule, even in a new abode, will help your cat feel content and secure.
4. Retain the scent from the previous home
Cats have always been solitary hunters, and to avoid conflict with other animals, they are inclined to mark their territory using their own scent. Although our domestic cats no longer live in the wild, this territorial behavior is still deeply ingrained in their genes. Thus, a new home with unfamiliar sounds and smells can be really frightening for cats.
One way to calm your anxious feline is to try to retain the smell of your previous home. You can do this by bringing some familiar belongings from the previous house. Cats have a very sensitive sense of smell – they can even detect your scent on the rug you stepped on or the towel you just used. Surround your cat with some used towels or clothes so he can feel more secure, or place his toys, blanket, and bed in the room where he stays.
You can also help your feline mark his scent in the new home by rubbing a piece of cloth over his cheeks, tail, or back. Then use this cloth to wipe the surfaces of your furniture, walls, or doorknobs to spread his scent.
5. Slowly introduce your cat to new rooms, one at a time
Gradually introduce your cat to the different rooms in the new house. For example, you can start in the living area by cuddling on the sofa. As your cat explores each new room, give him all the attention he needs. Offer treats and playtime to make him feel loved and comfortable in the new rooms.
6. Use pheromone products
Another excellent way to help your furry companion curb his stress and adjust to the big change is to use pheromone products. You might have heard about pheromones before – they are chemicals naturally produced by cats as part of their communication system with other animals.
Commercial pheromone products are synthetic chemicals that offer the same scent as those naturally produced by cats. The familiar smell, although we cannot detect it, gives your furry friend the reassurance and comfort he needs when he feels stressed or anxious. One firm favorite of cat owners is the FELIWAY Cat Calming Pheromone Diffuser. Simply plug it into the outlet and the device will start releasing the scent into the air.
You can also use the collar or spray versions of the spray product – whichever works best for you.
7. Use an anxiety jacket
If your cat likes to be held and comforted when he is scared or anxious, then the anxiety jacket can give you a helping hand. It basically works as a pressure wrap, soothing your cat in the same way as swaddling a baby. The anxiety jacket wraps snugly around your cat’s torso to create the feeling of being constantly hugged. If you are interested in trying this out on your cat, then have a look at Thundershirt’s classic cat calming vest.
8. Visit the vet
Meowing could be your cat’s cry for help.
If you suspect the excessive yowling is no longer connected with the environment and it has continued for an extended period of time, then your next step should be visiting the vet to rule out any medical problems. Keep in mind that cats can also be vocal when they experience discomfort or pain. Hopefully, your furry friend gets a clean bill of health and settles into your new home quickly.
How long does it take a cat to adjust to a new home?
The time it takes for your cat to accept this big change depends on his individual temperament. Most cats should start feeling comfortable after about two weeks. Within this time frame, make sure not to let your cat roam freely, as he will likely try to escape and go back to your old home. The worst thing that could happen to your furry friend is getting lost along the way – you don’t want that to happen!
Cats with generalized anxiety problems and traumatic pasts might have more difficulty coping with the new environment, and it might take longer for them to return to their normal selves. Some might take weeks or even months to get over the change!
The best thing you can do is be patient and give your cat space and time. Gradually introduce him to the new home, and with each baby step, he will learn to feel safe again under your roof.
Other tips when moving to a new home with cats
Moving to a new house can be stressful overall, not only to you but to your four-legged companions, too. While some cats can adjust quickly, some might take longer to acclimatize to their new environment, and their behavioral changes and excessive yowling might go on for days. Only time will tell when your cat will finally accept this big change.
Here are a few quick tips to prevent your cat from suddenly dashing out of a window during the transition:
- Choose a secure, quiet room in the new house where you can let your cat freely explore. Never force him to come out from his carrier – let him come out in his own time. Make sure to provide all the necessities like food, water, and a litter box in the room.
- Never let an anxious cat roam the house unsupervised, especially in the kitchen, laundry area, and utility rooms. Distressed cats tend to seek security in narrow areas, such as under appliances or in tight spaces with electrical wires.
- Before you let your cat roam freely in the new house, make sure that all windows are either closed or secured with screens. A completely new environment is a big shock for your cat and he might end up escaping through an open window to go back to your old home.
Lastly, never forget to update your cat’s microchip or pet tag, particularly before moving to a new house. Just in case your cat suddenly bolts through the door while moving, it will be easier for the kind-hearted person who finds him to contact you. Moreover, having a microchip or pet tag will save your lost kitty from being surrendered to the shelter.
Wrapping it up
Sharing your new home with an extremely vocal cat can be frustrating and cause hours of lost sleep at night. Understand that this is a completely normal reaction for most cats, as they are known to be territorial creatures. At this time, it is very important to support your cat’s needs to help him calm down. There are plenty of ways to help put him at ease, all of which are summarized in this article.
If you think that none of the above-mentioned methods work for your cat and the yowling has been going on for too long, there could be some underlying medical problem involved. A visit to the vet or animal behaviorist should give you some answers and help find the best solution for your feline’s altered behavior.
Image: istockphoto.com / Liudmila Chernetska