We've recently moved from a house to an apartment.

We've had this cat for quite some time, and it has moved with us twice before. Both the other times, the cat would disappear for a few days (under a couch) and then start settling down.

We introduced him to the new house using the following method:

  1. We released him from his carrier in the living room, near his food/water and litter box.
  2. The first day we kept him there.
  3. The second day we opened up the hallway to let him explore.

However, since we opened up the hallway, the nights have gotten worse and worse, and we have since closed that door again.

Around 3:00 to 3:30 A.M. the cat starts:

  • jumping against doors / trying to open doorknobs;
  • meowing loudly;
  • growling;
  • going to the litterbox several times in a row, burying something that isn't there.

If we leave the doors open from the living room where he spends all of his time, to our bedroom, he will cry out in-front of our bedroom door until one of us wakes up.

If we lock him in the bedroom he'll cry at the door to the hallway (this was a bad idea).

If we keep him in the living room he'll cry at the door to the hallway.

The only thing that seems to calm him down is our presence.

If we walk around with him (he'll follow us non-stop at night) he's fine and quiet.

If we go and sleep in the living room on the couch (yes, I just spent a night sleeping on the couch because of my cat) he'll purr for a while and remain quiet.

He seems to want us to be in the living room. And I have no idea why. It only works if it's me or my girlfriend, if our kid is with him he'll just hide and cry out from his hiding spot.

During the day, he's his usual self:

  • He sleeps on the back of the couch.
  • He's only scratching his posts.
  • He's not peeing anywhere he shouldn't.
  • He's not crying out during the day.
  • He comes when we call his name, and he's eating normally.

I'm not sure what's causing this? Is my cat scared of being alone? Is there some smell or sound that's making him anxious at night?
I'm a bit sleep deprived now and really annoyed at the animal.

  • How long have you been in the new place? How old is the cat? Has the cat been examined for vision loss, hearing loss, and/or dementia? You have my sympathy, I'm moving this week!
    – Zaralynda
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 13:19
  • @Zaralynda 6 days now (we moved last tuesday). We haven't had him examined yet but he is still quite young.
    – Reaces
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 13:20
  • how old is he? Cats are considered senior at 7.
    – Zaralynda
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 13:25
  • @Zaralynda I believe he's 6 now, but I might be underestimating his age. I'd have to check his booklet at home.
    – Reaces
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


So, six days is really the blink of an eye for a cat to settle into a new territory. Some rescues estimate that it can take up to six MONTHS for a cat to feel comfortable in a new environment. This behavior does not seem abnormal to me.

I would recommend a vet visit just to check on your cat's health. Anxiety in a new territory can be increased by a loss of vision, hearing, or onset of dementia. Additionally, the vet can evaluate your cat to see if his anxiety may indicate a need for a medication.

These are more long term solutions, and you need some sleep NOW (moving is exhausting!).

I would recommend an intensive play session before bed with a wand toy (like da bird). If you play with him (get him to pant if you can), then feed him, he should settle down to sleep for awhile (and hopefully stay asleep). Hopefully the activity will burn off some of his anxiety.

If he still wakes you up at 3 am, I would try another play/feed session to try to get him to let you go back to sleep. Getting up for 15 minutes and then sleeping soundly until morning is better than him keeping you awake for hours!

Finally, it sounds like you normally sleep with your door closed (reasonable, with a kid in the house!). You may want to try sleeping with your door open so your cat can be sure you're still here and okay, and then go back to the living room (where he's more comfortable). Once he settles in more, you should be able to go back to keeping the door closed. If you own the new place, you could also consider installing a cat flap in your bedroom door.

  • Actually where we previously slept we had no doors from our living room to our bedroom, only stair-cases. But in our new place we closed the doors because it was widely recommended online to introduce cats to new environments one door at a time. Six months sounds exhausting... Especially considering the ease with which he adapted to the previous house.
    – Reaces
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 13:41
  • 2
    If the cat is used to having access to you, I can't blame him for wanting that restored. And I'm skeptical about the one-room-at-a-time idea; I can see why it might make sense but " structuring their experience" seems ls productive than letting the manage their own adaptation.
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 14:30
  • @keshlam Letting him roam free seems to make things worse though. The only time he's quiet is in the living room, all doors closed and one of us in there with him. The open door makes him more anxious.
    – Reaces
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 21:42
  • We tried the play session before sleep combined with wet food (something he rarely gets). We also put a noisemaker we use for the dog on the door. He was quiet most of the night, whined a bit when my wife went to the bathroom, but was overall a lot quieter. He also doesn't look any more nervous during the day. We'll continue to go through the play-eat-groom-sleep cycle before bed-time until he's full accustomed to the new home.
    – Reaces
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 13:47

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