Worried about multiple changes in environment

writingislove

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My husband and I are closing on our new house this coming Friday.  The woman who is buying our current home is closing earlier in the week, which means for a few days we are going to be homeless until we get the keys to our new house.  During those few days, my husband and I are going to stay with my parents, but my cats are going to be staying with a friend in her spare bedroom.

My cats are already significantly stressed by all of the moving prep (most of the house is now in storage, with only the essential furniture remaining).  I'm really concerned about the stress level they're going to experience being moved to a stranger's home for a few days, and then into an entirely new home altogether.  I've moved with cats before, but I've never had this kind of a transition.

Has anyone else had to do this kind of thing when moving?  What can you recommend to make the big, sudden changes easier on my kitties?  One of them adjusts somewhat quickly to change, but the other one is really, really slow to adjust.  I just worry because I know too much stress can be hard on their immune systems.  Any advice is appreciated. 
 

vball91

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It will be stressful for them. You can try running a Feliway pheromone diffuser in your friend's room and leaving them with used articles of your clothing so that there will be some familiar smells there. Are you going to be able to visit them? I am assuming there's a reason they can't stay with you at your parents' house?
 
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writingislove

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Long story, but yes, there's a reason they can't stay at my parents' house with us.  I like your suggestion of leaving some clothing with our scent.  I will probably leave Orville's favorite "kneading" blanket there, because he's the one I'm most worried about.  Thanks for the good idea. 
 

catpack

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Since there are so many changes, keep as many things the same as possible (I would even consider keeping the used clean litter in their litter box(es) if possible just to give them a familiar smell.

Using a Feliway diffuser and leaving things that smell like "home" are good ideas too.

Also, you could try rubbing a towel, etc and their cheeks to get their scent on it and rub that on the floors/walls of the new house (in their "safe" room.) This way the new home will already smell a little like them.
 

lamiatron

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It will be stressful for them. You can try running a Feliway pheromone diffuser in your friend's room and leaving them with used articles of your clothing so that there will be some familiar smells there. Are you going to be able to visit them? I am assuming there's a reason they can't stay with you at your parents' house?
yes. leave some recently worn clothes for them. My cats find comfort in it, when i'm not home. I'll often come home to find them sleeping on clothes or pajamas i've left on the bed instead of their beds or any other part of the bed. 

They will acclimate soon to your new home and will be comfortable once again. i'm sorry your kitties are stressed during this situation but congrats on the new house and good luck.
 

ritz

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You could also try adding some Rescue Remedy to their food.
Also, to the extent possible, I placed the furniture in the same place in my new home as I did in my one-bedroom, much smaller condo. Cats are all about scents, so I'd try putting in your friend's bedroom old clothes, same litter and litter box, same food, same food bowl, etc.
I was worried sick about how Ritz would adjust to a new home, but within three or four days, she was fine. (Ritz was semi-feral when rescued.)
 
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writingislove

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Thank you all for your input.  I feel so bad because it's obvious they're stressed out by everything being boxed up and half the furniture moved out in the garage...and that's hardly even the start of it.  But I've packed up a bag with some of their favorite things and I have some blankets and clothing items to take with while they're staying at my friend's house.  I don't know that I'll have a chance to make it to the pet store for a Feliway diffuser in time for their temporary stay there, but hopefully having the familiar scents will at least take the edge off!  Definitely need to get a diffuser for the new house, too. 
 

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I have moved a few times with pets and here is my input.  I haven't had to rehome during the move but what I would be doing is sleeping on some blankets and towels right now so my scent was on those items.  When you leave the cats at your friend's home leave those items where you think the cats might sleep like in their pet bed or a chair or even on the floor depending on what they have to live in.  That way they will smell you while you are away.  Go visit as much as you can, spend "quiet time" with them not playing but just relaxing and petting them.  Make sure they know you think this place is Ok by being calm with them.  If they have any favorite items like beds or toys make sure they have them.  Use their original bowls and anything you can bring that's familiar from home.  I'm sure all will be Ok once you bring everyone home.  It will be confusing for a while but I'm sure everything will be fine once everyone is back together.
 

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Hi Writingislove,

Some hints from our travels:

Don't act like this is a big deal and be sorry for them...be breezy and happy and cheerful and tell them about what is going to happen with lots of excitement. (They are going to get a new and better house!)  It does help!  If you are too sad and worried for them in their presence, it will confirm to them that this is something BAD and they are right to be worried and stressed about it.

Don't be surprised if they are off their food during the relocations.  So long as they eat a little, and drink, they'll be ok - I found hand feeding to be the best way to get food into them in  such times.  And sometimes it just needs to be something to lick up - a little butter or cream (so long as it is natural full fat, there is no lactose), some tuna, or even just the tuna water (make sure in springwater).  

If you can get a feliway, I swear by it - maybe express post internet order?  If we travel, it will take Kato 30mins from plug-in, to be quite at home and bouncing around being cheeky in a new home. (We haven't travelled with our new kitten Ava as yet)

Work out the ways your cats dissipate stress.  Some will hide and sleep.  Some will expend it in play  Some will expend it in grooming (to the point of over grooming sometimes).  Some will expend it in shredding and ripping things.  And give their preferred activities to them as much as you can as it is important that they have a way to deal with the stress.  Our cats expend stress by playing and ripping - hence we have several 30mins play times a day if we shift home, and they get cardboard boxes to tear up.  If we can't be present, then I know Kato & Ava will hide and sleep, so they need 'caves' that they can burrow into and be completely covered - Kato figures out how to do this with my clothes, but we also provide hidey places like their bed with some pillows as walls and a blanket draped over the top for a roof.  Mine will also use their travel cages - we keep them out all the time so they are always seen as a good place and a place of refuge.  Your scent over everything helps a lot - ours always stay in our bedroom (frequently inside the bed as I figure we put our smells there heavily).  When Ava had to go to the vet to be spayed, I did an exercise session in an old t-shirt to get it heavily 'smelly' of me, and that went with her.  

For when you have already visited, but can't fit another in, we talk to ours on speaker phone - Ava will even come over and lick the phone, so they definitely know it is you.

And lastly...ahead of the move, make sure you have updated their microchip details with your current contact details, just in case they 'get lost' somehow.

Best wishes!
 
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