Despite the cat's reputation as an aloof, disinterested animal, the fact is, most house cats are loving, affectionate animals who become attached to their owners—and to their homes. That means when it's time to move, your cat can feel as disoriented and uprooted as you do, and it's important you take some special steps to help your cat adjust to new surroundings. Finding senior apartments that let you bring pets is the first hurdle to overcome, but once you find the right community, there's still more work to be done. Here are a few tips to help your cat feel more comfortable and at home in a new community:
- If you're using boxes for your move, consider getting them a few days early so your cat can explore them and, hopefully, rub his or her cheeks against them to scent them. Then once you're in your new home, leave the boxes around for a few days so your cat still has that familiar scent to fall back on.
- It’s likely that your cat will need to be in a pet carrier on moving day, and if your cat is like most felines, carriers probably isn't a favorite place to be. To help your pet adjust, leave the carrier out for a few days ahead of time for exploration and consider feeding your cat near the carrier or placing a few treats inside it.
- Not all senior apartments are cat-proof. Before letting your cat roam and explore, check for issues like loose window screens or semi-enclosed areas where your cat could become trapped.
- When you move in, set up a space just for your cat that includes a familiar and comfortable bed, toys, litter box, food and water dishes. Consider placing one or two moving boxes in the space as well. Having a quiet area where your cat can retreat will help to prevent him from becoming over-stressed.
- In addition to the litter box in your cat's “safe spot,” be sure to place a second box wherever you plan to permanently place it so your cat knows where it can “go.”
- Engage your cat in plenty of play activities in your new home so the spaces become associated with fun.
- If you're moving out of your area, make sure to locate a new vet before you move in and have your cat's records transferred. If your cat takes medicine or special food, have plenty on hand in case you can't get to the new vet right away. Also, remember to update your pet's tags and identity chip information ahead of time and attach tags to your cat's collar well in advance of moving day, just in case your cat gets loose soon after your move.
- Don't introduce new foods or treats during the relocation to avoid upsetting your cat's already-anxious tummy.
- Be respectful of your neighbors. Many people enjoy feeding birds, and having a new cat prowling around for a midday (or midnight) snack won't go over well. Keep your cat indoors or provide an enclosed, escape-proof area in your own yard where it can explore.
- Most of all, be sure to provide plenty of attention, affection and reassurance during the days following move-in so your cat feels secure in its new home.
Looking for senior apartments or other senior communities that accept pets can limit your available housing options to some extent, but the good news is that more senior housing complexes are beginning to implement pet-friendly policies now that research has shown the amazing benefits pets can offer older adults. Once you've found your home, help your cat adjust by implementing these simple tips, and soon your cat will be purring with contentment once again.