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Moving house is a stressful time for everyone, including our pets. As owners, we’re often so busy organising the human upheaval that we forget the impact our tidying, packing down, boxing up, and moving out has on our pets. Cats are susceptible to changes in routine and highly attuned to the stress and emotions that their owners commonly experience in the run-up to moving day and in those first days, weeks, and months in the new house. So why is your cat meowing a lot after moving?
Firstly, cats stress about different things to us. They don’t have to remember a new zip code, to re-direct the mail or worry about whether they’ve made the right decision to downsize or up-sticks and move out-of-state. They climb into their carriers and arrive safely in their new home, right?
Cats are territorial. This means they’re bonded to their environment. They like familiarity in the spaces they inhabit. For them, it isn’t just that a new house looks strange, but it’ll smell strange too, and that’s disconcerting (or it is to most cats, anyway).
A new home is unfamiliar and unsettling, and they can’t understand what’s happened. We can’t communicate verbally and reassure them in the way we can with even a young child. You own a cat, so you already know there’s no reasoning with them; they’re an independent force of nature.
For a lot of cats, the new home is all sorts of wrong, whereas the old place was comfortable and safe.
Of course, some cats adapt very quickly to a new home. Ours was like that. She came straight from her foster home (that she’d shared with about twenty other cats), walked in, made a loop of the premises, and then made herself at home. Within minutes, she ate, used the litter box, and lay on the sofa. She’d been a stray, so maybe she was just more used to upheaval than some cats, but we have friends who say they’ve had a completely different experience.
Regardless of whether you’ve recently moved, if you’re concerned about how persistently your cat is meowing, keep a record of when it’s happening. See if there are any commonalities. This is also useful if you decide to contact a veterinarian.
Why Is My Cat Meowing So Much After Moving?
If your cat didn’t meow as often before you moved, then it’s most likely down to the new house. This narrows things down, at least. Your cat is telling you that it feels negative about the new space. Often, this is because the new house doesn’t smell like them, any of their beds and blankets, and it probably doesn’t smell like you and your family, making them feel vulnerable and nervous. This can be exacerbated if you’ve moved into a new place without any or much of your own furniture. It can be even worse if the previous occupants owned cats or dogs before you arrived; the cat will absolutely be picking up on those old scents.
In your old home, your cat will have used its paws, cheeks and forehead to rub pheromones against the objects you own. This created a safe and secure territory and helped them feel comfortable in that space. When you move, the cat must do all of this again while dealing with a cacophony of other scents they don’t recognise.
Meowing reflects their confusion and insecurity.
Why Do Cats Meow?
Meows are a brilliant example of how clever cats are at getting what they want because, essentially, it’s learned behaviour. 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’s how to get our attention. It could be for food, for fuss or playtime. It could also just be to find out where in the vicinity you are. Our cat sometimes does it when she wants to tell us that she’s left us something solid and smelly in the kitty litter — thanks! Some cats make more noise than others. Typically, Siamese cats are very vocal, for example. The more time you spend with your cat, the easier to guess what they want.
You’ll already know how vocal your cat is, so you should be able to tell the difference in the frequency before, during and after the move.
How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Adjust to a New Home?
It varies from cat to cat. Most cats will settle down within the first two weeks. The vocalization should be short-lived once the cat has adapted to its new surroundings. Often, they need a little time and space. Cats are incredibly resilient and can quickly settle into new routines and environments once they’ve had enough time to adjust. Cats with a difficult or traumatic past or those with nervous or anxious personalities may take longer to settle, but there’s no reason to think they won’t calm down once they feel safe again.
If you plan on letting your cat outside, remember to wait for around two weeks before doing so, or they could try and return to your old property, which could be dangerous.
If you’re moving with indoor cats, then be extra vigilant when removal people or visitors are coming to the house. They may not be as careful with leaving doors or windows open, and it can be easy to miss when there are a lot of things going on.
How do you Settle a Cat After Moving?
As we mentioned earlier, smell is really important to cats. You can do several things to help a cat adjust. You can gently wipe a cloth against their cheeks to collect their scent and then dab it against any door frames and surfaces. This transfer will help them recognise the house as somewhere they are safe to wander around it. You can also prepare for their arrival by unpacking the cat’s toys, blankets, beds, etc., and setting them up in a space where the cat can retreat away from the chaos of the rest of the house. We’ve always found that packing a sweater or scarf that smells like us and putting it into the carrier or cat bed helps after a veterinarian visit.
You can also buy plug-in diffusers that mimic pheromones in a cat’s scent glands. Humans can’t smell them, but felines can. Synthetic pheromones don’t work for every cat, but many people have reported changes in their pet’s behaviour. We’ll leave a few links here for you to explore on Amazon. Again, they’re not guaranteed with every pet, but some owners swear by them. If you purchase something from Amazon, we get a small commission at no cost to you.
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- FELIWAY Classic heated diffuser covers up to 700 square feet; for the best results, position the diffuser where your cat spends most of his or her time, and avoid plugging the diffuser in under shelves and behind doors, curtains, or furniture
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- Cat Anxiety Relief Diffuser - Are you struggling with your cats' scratching or spraying at day or night? Oimmal cat pheromone diffuser effectively helps reduce common signs of cats' anxiety, such as scratching, urine spraying, tension and conflicts between cats, fears, and reactions to changes. Cat pee prevention, stop male cats from spraying, pheromone diffuser to calm cats.
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Last update on 2023-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Cats like having places to retreat to. These can be in quiet rooms, on windowsills or shelves, etc. Ensure they have someone to go to when they feel overwhelmed or nervous. Remember too that those first few weeks after a house move can be chaotic with lots of footfall through the main areas of the house, visitors, DIY etc.; these are all things that can stress a cat out even when they’re established in their new home.
Cats respond to personal attention and calm, soothing voices. Our cat loves baby talk, which is hilarious. Give them lots of reassurance and cuddles so they feel loved and safe.
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.
Otherwise, we hope your cat settles in quickly, and we wish you lots of luck in your new home 😊