Moving, not sure about the cat

lin01December 4, 2013

We finally sold our house and are moving 9 hours south. Our cat came with our current home when we moved in 13yrs ago. about 5yrs ago we trapped him and got him fixed etc. About 3 years ago he let himself in the doggy door and now sleeps with us. He does not use a little box, just lets himself out.
We plan on taking him with us of course, because we love this cat. The problem is that 5 days after we move into our new home we have to leave to go to my niece's wedding. We are only going to be gone overnight, which would not have been a problem in our old home, but it scares me in the new place.
We will have a pet door, but I am afraid that he might get lost and if we put out a litter box he won't use it. We just don't know what to do and I am looking for ideas from anyone who has any help for us.
Thanks.

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calliope

Board him.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 5:42PM
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calliope

I'm sorry, I should have elaborated. Cats get very connected to their physical homes and proterties (if they are outside/inside). Moving presents more of an issue than just a pet door overnight. I almost lost the best cat I ever had that way. She wandered off almost immediately in her new home when I married and she was gone for two weeks. It was only an act of God she found her way home, so thin she could barely stand up.

Cats can get accustomed to new digs, but you will have to introduce it to them gradually. That means they need a strong sense of home before they're ever let out, so they can hone where it is and be broken into the outside gradually. I did it with letting a barn cat out who moved from my daughter's farm to our smallholding very gradually whilst watching him and scooping him up when he looked to be about to take off to explore. He survived fine for eighteen years after that and claimed his new home as his.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 5:49PM
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camlan

When moving a cat, you really need to keep it inside for a couple of weeks, until it sort of learns where its new home is. If you are going to let it out, it needs to be in a fenced-in area that it can't escape from. Otherwise, you run the risk that it will run off and never come back.

Sorry, didn't mean to scare you, but this has happened to two friends of mine, and I'd hate to have it happen to anyone else.

If you want the cat to go outdoors at the new house and you don't have a fence, try leash training him, but again, best to start now, before the move.

Perhaps you could start by introducing the litter box now, before you move. If you could find some of the cat's poop outdoors and put in the box to sort of show him what's it's for, that might help as well. There's a litter that's actually called "Cat Attract" that might be a good idea to try.

Boarding him while you are gone is an option. Or you could confine the cat to one room of the new house, one that could take some cat pee and poop if the worst happens, like a bathroom or utility room.

Leave a clean litter box, and food and water for at least 48 hours. I've done this when I had to go away for the weekend and my usual cat-sitter couldn't come. Two or three water bowls, in case one gets tipped over. Lots of dry kibble, much more than the cat really needs for the time you will be gone.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 8:00AM
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lin01

Do you think it will be better for the cat if the new homeowners will keep him as their pet, so we don't have to move him.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 11:09PM
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camlan

Depends on the new homeowners. Would they want the cat? Would they be willing to allow it to come and go as it pleases? Will they take good care of it?

This can work--friends of mine bought a house that came with an outdoor-only cat. The sellers knew they couldn't move the cat, as it never came indoors and only rarely came up to them for pets and such. They fed it and kept a warm bed for it in the backyard shed and that was about it. My friends took over feeding it and tamed it a bit more, so that it would come into the mudroom during blizzards, but that was about it--the cat didn't want much further contact.

So you could ask the buyers if they will take him on. But you'll need a back-up plan if they say no.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 7:11AM
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kashka_kat

If you ask the new owners, I would phrase it more like a question (would you want the house to come equipped with a cat, or without?) rather than a request that they keep the cat. Also do ask all the questions you need to to be sure they will provide a good home for him. By my reading this sounds more like an indoor-outdoor cat, than a feral. Yes your cat is bonded to the territory but he is also bonded to you too, so you'd want someone who's going to keep feeding him and giving him love and some indoor time. It's definitely worth asking though - he's probably spent almost all his life there and it would save him a grueling 9 hr. trip plus the adjustment to the new place.

If you're moving him - yes you would need to keep him confined for several weeks - even a couple months - as long as possible .

He's going to be upset and confused from the move so it would be better for him to have a quiet, confined space he can hide out in until he starts feeling safe. Releasing him right away only adds to the stress - he has no idea where a place of safety is, there may strange cats and predators around, and none of his scent markings on anything, only ones from strange cats. Exactly what might motivate him to take off in hopes he might find his old house.

A basement would be fine - just put litterbox, food, bedding, and if desired a feliway diffuser and a radio playing classical music, and come down and check on him from time to time. When he's ready he'll want to come out to explore the house, and will eventually be asking to go outside - but just say no to that until he has a firm sense that this is his home now.

You could then leave him overnight in his place of refuge while youre gone to the wedding. That's going to be far less stressful for him than uprooting him again to board him and being in a cage.

Thank you for looking out for the guy!!! When I saw the heading my heart sank thinking you were considering abandoning him like his first people did. But nope, you're just considering all the options.

This post was edited by kashka_kat on Fri, Dec 6, 13 at 9:50

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 9:42AM
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lin01

With everything that is going on, from retirement to moving, the only thing keeping us up at night is my worry about our cat!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 11:44AM
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kashka_kat

Ps - one more thought, whether he is being moved or not, keep him in a secure spot while your stuff is being loaded up and the actual move is taking place. I've had two cats now go missing because of getting spooked by people moving in or out next door - it wasn't even me who was moving. One I never found, the other I fortunately found after 6 weeks and it turns out he was hiding nearby and circling around the whole time. I wonder if that's what might have happened originally with your cat's previous owners - time to go and the cat is gone and can't be found?

From their point of view it can be like a major earthquake happening - a lot of chaos and anxiety in the air, everything familiar gone or rearranged!

Good luck with your move - hope all goes smoothly.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 12:11PM
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schoolhouse_gw

Thought I share my experience, not as in moving tho. Wednesday I had workers here building a project in my orchard. My pre-feral cat of three years hid outside for nearly 10hrs., 4hrs.of that after they left. She is still so spooked that she constantly looks over her shoulder down towards the orchard. Wants in the house, wants out. She was nearly over it when yesterday a guy came and sawed and dug out a tree stump way down in the front yard. She hid another entire day. Has eaten only a tiny bit of her canned food since Wednesday morning.

Cats just have a difficult time with change. I would be careful to keep your cat indoors for awhile after the move.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 6:34PM
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chloenkitty

As some have said, when you move a cat, they hate it. When you go to the wedding, close the cat in one small room (not a closet or tiny 1/2 bath mind you) with a litter box, food and water. You said the cat doesn't use a littler box, but if you have it in one small room and it has to relieve itself, it should use the litterbox. I suggest getting this litter called cat attract, it works very well. Even if not going to the wedding, when moving a cat, you should keep it secure in one room for a few days as it will be scared. And for goodness sake, when you move, make sure the carrier is closed tightly. I even reinforce mine closed with zip ties. You'd be surprised the small space a cat can get out of and how quick they are.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 6:50PM
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Artiste8

Don't give the cat to the new owners, you don't even know them.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 10:31PM
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lin01

I wanted to update everyone on our move. The new owners do not want the cat, so he is coming with us. I bought some of the litter that was suggested and we will do the best we can.
We found a rental with an acre of land and plenty of space inside to keep the cat confined in. We are moving on Jan 18th and a week or so after that I wii let everyone know how the move went.
Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 11:14PM
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socks

Thanks for the update. We don't always get updates! Why don't you put out the litter box now so kitty can get used to it a bit, even if he is still going in and out.

(Usually when we trouble-shoot issues like this, all goes well. It's the unexpected stuff in life that trips us up! Good for you for taking care of kitty.)

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:47AM
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lin01

I wanted to give everyone a new update on our move with the cat. Everything went so much better than we thought it would. We gave the cat a pill and he went to sleep in his crate for the trip. One dose did it.
I put out 3 litter pans in the new house, none of which he would use. He sat at the back sliding door and cried to be let out. So, we took a deep breath and let him out. He went under the deck, did what he needed to do and came back in thru the pet door. We gave him access to the pet door all the time after that.
We went to the wedding, came home about 12 hours letter and he was sitting on the deck waiting for us. So, I guess he is just one smart cat! He learned this was his new home from day one. So glad the people who bought our house did not want him and he came with us.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:26PM
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kashka_kat

Yep, he knows youre his people and that home is where the food dish is! That's great - glad to hear he's already confident and at home in his new digs.

But still.... be sure he's got a tag on and keep close tabs on him for a while in case there are things that come up - like other cats around who think its their territory and try to challenge him etc.

OK yeah, so, Im a worry wort but see, I had a cat disappear during a move and know of several more - missingpetpartnership.org lists a move as one of the risk factors in cats going missing - sometimes in a misguided attempt to go back to their old place.

But I must say it's looking good - thanks for the update!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 10:18AM
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Artiste8

Great news! Thanks for letting us know. He is a lucky cat to have you.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 11:21AM
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