Planning to move into a new home with your furry companion? You might want to plan ahead before the big day!
Cats dislike change intensely, and they might surprise you with some strange behaviors after moving. While most of these behaviors are completely normal and nothing to worry about, some cats can display destructive behavior in response to the fear or stress brought on by their new environment.
So, why do cats’ personalities change after moving to a new residence? Let us dive in and find out.
Why your cat’s personality changes after moving
If you have recently moved to a new home, do not be surprised if you see your furry companions struggling with the big change. Cats are known to be highly territorial and they do not do well with changes in their environment, which makes the moving day stressful for everyone.
Cats get their sense of security through routines and familiarity with their environment. As the new scents, sounds, and scenery abound, it is likely for them to be wary of their surroundings. Most cats will resort to hiding for a few days, feeling anxious or threatened by the unfamiliarity of the new territory.
Your job, as their human guardian, is to make them feel safe and comfortable in their new realm. So, if you have decided to pack your bags and move to a new home or city, you need to make sure that the transition is smooth, both for you and for your furry companion. Settling into a new home can be challenging, so planning ahead before the big day will really make a difference.
You will need to be prepared for your cat’s behaviorial changes during this transition. Understanding how and why she reacts to these changes will help you come up with precautionary measures to keep her safe and calm while you settle into your new residence.
Common feline behavioral changes after moving
Major life changes such as moving to a new residence can turn your furry bundle of joy into a different cat entirely – and you are not alone. Feline behavioral changes are quite a common complaint among cat owners, and since cats are incredibly sensitive to change, it should not be surprising when they start acting strangely after a relocation.
Some of the changes you might notice are explained below:
1. Increased clinginess
Attention-seeking behavior in cats can occur at any time and age, but seem to be more apparent during stressful situations such as moving. Unfortunately, your cat’s aversion to the new environment can cause various behavioral problems, which might include excessive meowing, following their owners everywhere, and other forms of clingy behavior. You may be surprised to see your normally independent cat transform into a Velcro kitty!
Cats instinctively feel vulnerable and insecure in unfamiliar environments, so they will naturally seek safety and comfort in your shadow. The best thing you can do is make your cat feel safe and reassured to reduce her fear and stress levels. Try to cuddle, play, and maintain routines with your cat. Hopefully, once she feels at ease in her new residence, she will be back to her normal self again.
2. Behavioral problems
Unfortunately, not all cats handle the stress of moving very well. While some can become more affectionate, others might resort to aggression or excessively defensive behavior. Keep in mind that all of these are triggered by stress and fear. It can be very frustrating, but your cat will need all of your understanding as she struggles to cope with the stressors around her.
Other behavioral issues you might notice are excessive yowling and hissing, scratching on household furniture, hiding, and pooping or urinating in the wrong places.
3. Trying to escape
The lack of familiarity with her surroundings might also encourage your cat to try to escape and return to your old home. She might choose to stay in her previous residence even if it is already occupied by new people.
The biggest worry is that, if she gets lost along the way, she might struggle to find her way back to either home. Road accidents and dangerous encounters with other animals are also possible, putting your cat’s life at risk.
4. Excessive vocalization
Excessive meowing is your cat’s way of telling you how she feels about her new surroundings. She might dislike the new scents and sounds, or perhaps she feels a bit disoriented. As much as you wish you could explain the situation to your whiskered friend, there is no way she can understand. Unfortunately, you will have to endure several sleepless nights as she whines to you about your new residence.
Are cats traumatized by moving?
While some cats adapt quite easily to their new homes, others might need a lot of time before they learn to tolerate or accept the changes. Our territorial friends may also be traumatized by the upheaval, which might lead to depression and undesirable behaviors. That is why careful planning and preparations are essential before the big day arrives.
How long does it take for cats to adjust to a new home?
Cats thrive on familiarity and predictability, so it might take them a while to accept a new environment. Some cats will only need a few days to adjust, while the others will take weeks to become familiar with their new home.
On average, most cats need about a week to feel more comfortable with their new territory. Keep in mind, however, that your cat’s ability to adapt will depend on her personality. Those with anxiety issues might need more time and reassurance before they can fully accept the life-changing event.
Settling your cat after moving
The first few days in your new home can be a difficult time – not just for you, but also for your furry companions. Cats cannot understand these changes and, as their human guardian, you need to show them that they are in a safe place.
Here are some tips to help Fluffy move on after the big change:
1. Keep your cat indoors
If you have an outdoor cat, it is probably best to keep her inside for a while to make sure that she does not run away.
Most cats cannot handle the stress of being in a new, unfamiliar environment, and will likely escape if they have the chance. Close any doors, windows, and other openings that your pet can possibly sneak through. She might make a lot of noise for a while out of fear or stress, but that is okay. Let her protest or vent her frustration while you keep her safe and secure inside your new residence.
2. Provide a dedicated space for your cat
Before moving to your new home, make sure to assign a cat room that is not too crowded. Ideally, it should be quiet and comfortable. This will help keep your furry friend calm as she explores her new environment and adjusts to the new smells and sounds.
3. Maintain your regular routines
Moving can easily make you forget your cat’s regular feeding times and play sessions, but you should not do so. If you do, this can add to your cat’s stress and you will have to endure the consequences later.
On top of your busy work schedule, unpacking, and cleaning, you must make sure that your cat receives her regular meals on time. As often as possible, try to squeeze in a few minutes of playtime or cuddles. Keeping your cat’s routine stable will help her feel safe and loved during this stressful time.
4. Use familiar scents
Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell for survival. To help her cope with the stress of moving, try to place your cat’s toys, bedding, and other familiar objects inside the room you have assigned her. Even your old shirts or sweaters will help to make her feel comfortable, as they will carry your scent as well as that of your old home.
If you have an anxious cat, you might also find pheromone products such as Feliway sprays helpful. The cat appeasing pheromones can reduce your cat’s stress-related behavior by giving her a sense of calm and familiarity. These synthetic pheromones are completely odorless to humans, so you can happily spray them in your new home to soothe your four-legged friend.
5. Gradually introduce new rooms
Finally, when Fluffy feels more confident in her new abode, start introducing her to the rest of the house. You can start with the living room, where you can play or cuddle as you watch TV. Eventually, her curiosity will bring her to the other areas of the house, and she will slowly familiarize herself as she sniffs her new surroundings.
You will know when your kitty has finally adapted to your new home when she does the following:
- Walks around the house without feeling frightened or intimidated
- Is comfortable sleeping in her bed or using the litter box
- Reverts to her normal behavior
- Appetite returns to normal
- Reduced meowing or yowling
- Starts rubbing her cheeks or body everywhere to mark her territory
Moving to a new residence is stressful for all family members, but our furry companions will suffer the most because they do not understand the sudden change. Many cat owners report that their cats’ personalities change after moving, and unfortunately not often for the better: common behavioural changes include excessive meowing or clinginess.
With careful preparation, however, you can definitely help your feline friend make a smooth transition to her new location. Give her love, patience, and reassurance during this stressful event, and she is sure to revert to her normal self in a very short time.
Image: istockphoto.com / Irina Gutyryak