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Moving house is one of the most stressful things a person can do. There’s so much to think about and do that it’s easy to forget that our pets get anxious about moving, too. So why is your cat meowing a lot after moving?
Of course, Cats don’t get stressed about all the same things that we do. They don’t have to remember a new zip-code, re-direct mail or pack and unpack endless boxes. They just get into their carriers and arrive safely at their new place, right?
Not quite. Cats are often bonded to their environment. They’re territorial animals and enjoy the familiarity of the spaces they inhabit. Sometimes, being taken away from where they’re used to and then dropped somewhere new is unfamiliar and strange to them. It’s an unsettling experience for them, and they don’t have the ability to understand us when we try communicating to them that this new place is now home and that it’s as safe as as comfortable as the old place.
Some cats adapt to a new home very quickly. Our cat was like that. She came straight from her foster home (which she shared with about twenty other cats) into our house and quickly made herself at home. Within minutes she’s done a loop of the house, eaten some food, used the litter tray and decided to lie down on the sofa ready for a nap. This is somewhat unusual though, and you may need to have patience with others whose behavior may change temporarily as they adapt to their new environment.
If you’re concerned about how your cat is feeling, then it can be helpful to keep a record of their behavior including any persistent meowing so that if you have to take them to see a veterinarian, you’re able to give a more detailed picture of what’s going on.
Why Do Cats Meow?
Adult cats don’t meow at one another. If you’ve ever felt manipulated by your cat, then don’t worry. You’re in good company – we’re all victims.
Cats meow at humans because they’ve learned that it’s one way to get our attention. It could be for food, for fuss or playtime. It could also just be to find out where you are. Some cats are very vocal and others aren’t. The more time you spend with your cat, the easier it’ll be to guess what it is they want.
In the context of a house move, meows could also be because the cat is feeling vulnerable or unsure of its new surroundings. He or she will notice that everything looks and smells differently and won’t know why.
How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Adjust to a New Home?
It all depends on the cat. Most cats can take anywhere up to two weeks to adjust. Any change in vocalization should be relatively short-lived. You just have to be a little patient and give them some time and space. Cats who’ve had a difficult or traumatic past or cats with nervous or anxious personalities may take longer to settle but there’s no reason to think that they won’t once they feel safe again.
Cats are highly adaptable animals, but they’re also creatures of habit.
If you’re planning on letting your cat outside, then remember to wait for at least 2-weeks before doing so or they might try and return to your old property.
Why Is My Cat Meowing So Much After Moving?
Your cat is probably a bit disorientated in its new surroundings. It isn’t as if we can sit down and explain to them what’s happened. They have to work it out on their own. Cats are really into putting scent on things and your new home is going to have a different smell.
If you’ve moved without any of your old furniture, then your cat might not feel as if it belongs there. It won’t be able to smell itself (or you) on the new things and this can make them feel anxious and unsure.
In your old house, your cat will have used its paws, cheeks and forehead to rub its smell against objects you own. This created a safe and secure territory for your pet and helped them feel comfortable. When you move it means the cat has to do this all again. The new place won’t smell like them and they’ll notice that right away especially if the previous occupants kept cats. Your cat will smell their scent and wonder where these other animals are in this new territory.
Meowing is often a reflection of their confusion and insecurity.
How do you Settle a Cat After Moving?
The Smell is really important to cats so try and make your new house smell like your old home. You can gently wipe a cloth against the cheeks of your cat to collect their scent and then dab it against any door frames and surfaces. This gives your pet a headstart in scenting the property. It helps if you can quickly unpack the cat’s toys, beds, blankets, etc and set them up so that your cat has some familiarity. They’ll also be covered in their scent, which will help them feel more at ease.
You can also buy plug-in diffusers that mimic the pheromones found in a cat’s scent glands. Humans can’t smell them but felines can. We’ve written about synthetic pheromones before. Synthetic pheromones don’t work for every cat but many people have reported big changes in their pet’s behavior. You can buy the diffusers and sprays on Amazon. If you purchase something from Amazon, then we get a small commission at no cost to you. Check Price of Comfort Zone diffuser on Amazon
Cats like having places to hide and sometimes that’s all they need to feel safe in a new environment. Set-up some spots for them around the home (in high and low places) and put toys and familiar blankets or towels for them to sit on.
You can talk to your cat, too. The calming tone of an owner’s voice can be a great way to reassure a cat that’s upset, especially if you’re fussing them and keeping them close in those first few days.
If the meowing continues for some time after the move, or if you suspect it may not be connected to the new environment, it’s worth chatting with your veterinarian as there could be some other issue at play.
Otherwise, we hope your cat settles in quickly, and we wish you lots of luck in your new home 😊