Intorducing cats to a new house?

alisonJuly 24, 2009

I'm in the process of moving from a small apartment to a big old house. Everything has been in uproar for two weeks, packing boxes and carrying them out of the apartment.

The cats have been a little insecure -- they follow me everywhere and have to sleep right up in my face at night. But otherwise they've been okay, no inappropriate peeing or anything.

Tomorrow, I'm taking the last of the big stuff, including the bed over to the house. And I'd like to take the cats.

My thought is to finish moving stuff Saturday morning, then spend a few hours squaring things away a bit in the new house. (It's going to be a looooong) time until we're all unpacked!) Put one of the two litter boxes in place, then bring the cats over and unleash them (and place the second littler box). Then I can spend Saturday night thru Monday morning with them at the house.

Should I limit where they can go initially? Unfortunately the only rooms I can close off are the bedrooms or the bathroom -- and I don't intend to keep the litter boxes there.

My mother suggested I intially put them in the unfinished basement. While one of their litter pans *will* be there in the future -- it's an unfinished basement. I don't anticipate spending a lot of time down there over the weekend, and I think they'll want the little bit of security of seeing me, while they're sniffing all the new surroundings.

A friend also suggested I shut them in the basement while I'm at work for the first week or so, just to make sure they don't do anything inappropriate. I hesitate for two reasons -- the first being that it's an unfinished, slightly musty basement and *I* wouldn't want to be shut up down there. But also because -- it's a unfinished, musty basement, and if they peed in the wrong place I might not notice until it had become an established bad habit.

Any suggestions on making this move easier for the cats?

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I moved last year for the first time in my cats' lives. I have two 9 year olds. One is very, very shy; the other pretty outgoing. On the day of my move I brought them over to the new place in their kitty carrier and shut them in a bedroom with a couple of cozy towels/blankets, food and water bowls, and litter box on newspaper in a corner. I also left the closet door open in the bedroom. Once the move was done and I was alone in the house, my outgoing guy, Basil, started exploring immediately and within a day or two was completely comfortable in the house. But my shy girl, Sally, spent nearly the entire first two months in that bedroom closet (I put a bed in it for her), coming out only to eat and use the litter box (which I had moved to a bathroom by the second day after the move). She is very insecure, and the dark, small closet made her feel protected until she was ready to branch out. Neither one had inappropriate elimination or stopped eating. I just let them do their thing and adjust at their own pace. I agree that they might not want to stay in an unfinished basement, and if I were you I wouldn't predetermine a time to confine them. Each cat is different, and they might surprise you and be fine within a day or two. Good luck and let us know how the move goes.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 9:27PM
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I would keep them in a bedroom, securely locked up, for several days at least. They'll adjust later on to having a litter box in a different place.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 1:09AM
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We have moved many, many times, always taking our cats with us, and the only thing I do is to make sure I am in the new house for the first several hours or longer while they are getting used to it.

Having your old furniture in the new place will be comforting to your cats; I guess you couldn't do that if you put them in the basement. They wouldn't get a very favorable impression of the new place, either, locked up in a musty basement. At most, I think I would try to restrict them to the first floor for awhile, just so to make it easier to keep tabs on where they are.

Wherever you are going to keep the litter box in the main part of the house, put a litter box in that room, that smells like a litter box (their old litter box, if possible, or if it is a new box, then put a tissue in it with a bit of the scent of dirty litter from the old box), and make sure they know it is there. Most cats are very clean and need only to get familiar with where the litter box scent is, and they won't make any mistakes unless they are ill, old and senile, or neurotic. lol You might lock them in that room for an hour or so to make sure, but after that, if they were my cats and I could be sure they wouldn't escape outdoors, I would give them the run of the house pretty quickly.

They will gravitate to the places where they feel most secure, whether it be a closet or under a bed or chair, or on one, and make that their base for exploration, so I would only lock a cat up for a long time in just one room, if it happened to be a terribly fearful cat--just to make it feel more secure.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 2:51PM
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Well, they're in -- and seem pretty happy about it.

I had most of my things over by Saturday afternoon. Nothing unpacked, of course, but the furniture in the right rooms at least. The bedroom was pretty well set up; bed made, dresser full, comfy chair in it'ss usual spot. I put one of their litter boxes across the hall in the bathroom.

Then I went back to the apartment to fetch the cats, who had been locked in tthe study while we were moving. Took them back to the now nice and quiet bedroom and let them out of the carriers.

Frankie, my Siamese, immediately leapt to the bed and then the top of the dresser, so he could survey the scene. Chloe, my Siberian shortie, bolted for under the dresser, some place dark and defensible. But once she was sure she had a safe spot, she came right out and began sniffing around.

After 20 minutes or so, they noticed the bedroom door was ajar, so they headed out to explore the rest of the second floor. It was so funny watching them; Frankie was walking tall, neck stretched completely out, and his weight on his back legs, so he could make himself even taller. Chloe, on the other hand, sort of slunk from spot to spot. She didn't appear to be frightened, but she defnintely wanted to see rather than be seen!

They didn't seem interested in going downstairs until late in the evening. I went down to the kitchen to get a box, and Frankie followed me down -- and right back up the stairs. They slept in the bedroom with me, but Chloe was relaxed enough to sleep in her chair, rather than the bed. (The last few weeks as I've been packing up, she's insisted on sleeping in the bed. Preferably in my face, and definitely touching me the whole night.)

As of this afternoon, they seem pretty cool about the house. They've discovered several sunny spots, and Frankie naps on the couch, with one eye on the porch window, so he can be at the door when I come in. (Now that he's figured out the house, he wants to go outside!) Chloe's never been very interested in outside, but this morning we were in the second floor sunroom, where the windows are about 12" off the ground. Frankie, of course was sitting in the window, but Chloe pulled herself up to look out the window and staired for a long, long time. Then she went to the next window and did the same thing. She did the same at a third window. The she went to a patch of sun coming in thru the skylight, and lay down on her back and wriggled and wriggled and wriggled.

I think she was smiling!

Thanks all for your advice!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 12:57PM
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