3215 Breton Rd SE
Kentwood, MI 49525
"This isn't my home- take me back to my house!"
Cats are very territory specific. Unlike many dogs, who are happy to go anywhere as long as they are accompanied by their family members, most cats hate having their routine disrupted. Moving is a huge adjustment for them. Cats will have preferred resting places, pathways, and "micro-territories" within the house.
These locations may vary as to the time of day. When multiple cats are present in the house, routines frequently develop allowing different cats access to certain areas at specified times during the day. Moving to a new home means that new territories and routines need to be developed. This is a stressful situation for all cats. In addition, when access to previously favored areas such as outside areas is no longer available, cats will perceive their territory to be diminished in size. When multiple cats are present, new struggles may commence in determining the social hierarchy in the new home. This may involve urine spraying and other marking behavior.
Older cats may have cognitive issues that make it more difficult to remember the new location of litter boxes. Litter boxes in the new home may be placed farther away from their resting areas than in the previous home, and consequently the accidents may be more likely in elderly , arthritic or debilitated cats.
The stress of the move may trigger a flare up of cystitis in susceptible cats. This cystitis is painful and can encourage urination outside of the box
Unwelcome reminders of previous pet tenants- previously soiled flooring, furniture and curtains.
Previous owners of your new home may have had pets that soiled in the house. Your cat has an exquisitely sensitive sense of smell, and may be able to detect those odors even when you cannot. Your cat may then urinate in that area both because it may appear as an appropriate location, and may also urinate there to mark it's claiming of the new territory against the claims of the previous pet. Cleaning of affected areas is needed.
What can I do to help prevent or stop litter box issues with a move?
Make the move as easy on your cat as possible. Reduce its stress in multiple ways:
1. Board your cat(s) for several days at a reputable facility while the heavy moving is being done.
Movers, whether friends, family, or professionals will frighten the cats due to the noise and removal of household items. Doors will be opening frequently for the removal of items, and anxious cats can dart outside and become lost. Confining the cats to one untouched room can help if boarding is not available, but the noise and general uproar is still stressful. In addition, sometimes the room where the cats are confined is not as isolated as one would like and the cats are able to get out of it.
2. Select one room at the new home for an initial "cat sanctuary". Place food, water and at least 2 litter boxes in the room. Window views will help enrich the stay in this room.
Put other favorite items such as blankets, toys, and a piece of clothing of the favorite person of the cat for comfort. Provide the normal familiar foods your cat eats to help with appetite. If necessary provide highly palatable canned foods to increase appetite, such as canned Fancy Feast cat food, tuna fish, meat baby food, and Hill's a/d and Eukanuba Recovery. If possible, bring along a gallon or two of the water the cat is used to as some waters may have different odors and tastes and this may deter drinking in stressed cats.
3. Place plug-in containers of a feline pheromone such as Feliway into the sanctuary room and the main rooms in the house. This pheromone mimics a normal hormone present in the facial sweat glands that is released on to a surface (or person!) when the cats rubs on it. This type of marking chemical can reduce the chance that the cat will mark with urine in the new house. The pheromone in essence tells it that they already marked it.
4. Bring the cats into the new home from the boarding facility and take directly into the new home's sanctuary room. Keep them in there for 12-48 hours, depending of their level of anxiety to be released into the rest of the home. When releasing them to explore the new home, limit the areas accessible to one floor initially. After a day or two of exploration, allow them to have full access to the home. Keep the litter boxes in the initial sanctuary room. If you prefer to have the litter boxes long term in a different room or on a different floor, gradually move the boxes (6-12 inches per day) to the new location. Alternatively, put additional litter boxes in the new location and wait until they are in use, then more rapidly move the old boxes to join the new boxes at the preferred location.
5. Cats with known cystitis should have their treatment plan modified during the initial stress of the move. Antianxiety medication may have to introduced or increased. Increased water consumption and pain medication may be desirable.
6. Give all cats extra attention during the moving process. Even 10 minutes twice a day of individualized attention and petting reduces the cats' stress level (and maybe your stress as well!)
3215 Breton Rd SE
Kentwood, MI 49525