I'm moving in about 2 weeks. I'm sure my cat is not going to know what's going on and why she's in a new environment. Any suggestions on what I can do to make this transition less stressful for her during this process until she feels comfortable?
Thank you for caring so much about your cat to ask this question. Cats use their amazing sense of smell to understand their environment. So, everything you will want to do revolves around scent. Here are a few ideas for you...
BLANKETS: Don't underestimate the power of the blanket! Cats love blankets! If your kitty has a favorite blanket, be sure you don't wash it before moving. If your kitty doesn't have a blanket, I would suggest getting two throw blankets. Make sure they are really plush and comfortable. Two weeks is enough time to get her scent all over the blankets, just put them where she likes to sleep. Be sure not to wash them, and bring them with you to your new house. Put one in the area where she will stay while the movers are moving your things in the house. After the movers are gone, put the two blanket somewhere she will find comfortable, such as one near a window and one on the couch with you. This makes sure that she smells her scent and is more comfortable.
HER FURNITURE: Now is not the time to get rid of old cat trees or toys. Make sure they all come with you to the new house. This will have her scent all over them and will help her feel comfortable. Resist the urge to clean them so that your new place is cat-hair free. I know this is something you probably want to do, but it's not the best way to help your cat feel comfortable. If you do not have a cat tree, now is the time to get one. She will find something fun waiting for her in her new home.
FELIWAY: If you have never used this product, it is great for calming cats. I use it at the shelter, where I volunteer, all the time. It simulates the pheromones in the cat's glands, which they rub against everything to deposit their scent. I have found that this product really helps calm many stressed kitties. It comes in a spray and a plug-in. I would suggest getting a bottle to spray around your house for the first couple weeks. If your cat is hiding under the bed, spray a little under the bed. Be careful not to spray it on her, of course.
DIRTY LAUNDRY: Don't wash all your laundry. Leave some dirty laundry in a pile in the room/bathroom where your cat will stay when the movers are bringing in all your things. This will help your cat feel comfortable because she smells your scent. If she ends up laying in the pile of laundry, don't wash it for the first week. This will give her a safe place to come back to. Yes, I'm giving you permission not to do your laundry. 😉
LOTS OF YOU: She will need the sound of your voice telling her everything is ok ...and lots of petting, reassuring her that you are there and are not leaving her. If you are able, take a couple days off work, just to be with her. If she is hiding, sit with her, and just talk with her and maybe give her some favorite treats. Don't try dragging her out of her hiding place. She will soon understand that everything is OK, as long as she has you.
I hope this helps. I wish you and your kitty the best in this endeavor!
I normally move my cat(s), their bedding, their food, their litter box, and their toys all together, in the first trip. I shut them in a small place like a bathroom, and try not to disturb them until the day's moving activities are over. It also reduces the risk that they'll run out the door while you're moving furniture.
Most small animals feel safer in a small dark place when stressed, so leave her travel crate in the bathroom in case she wants to hide there. If she starts meowing to get out of the bathroom, that's actually a good sign that she's more annoyed than stressed.