Q: Due to this rotten economy, we must leave our beautiful house. My brother has graciously offered to let us live at his place until we can get back on our feet. Unfortunately, we can’t bring our 8-year-old cat, Sugar Pie with us because my brother has two dogs who dislike cats.
My best friend, who has no other animals, has offered to adopt Sugar Pie. I know my cat will be in a good home, though it really tears at me to part with her. How can we help my sweet cat accept and transition easily into her new home?
A: Sadly, many people find themselves in the same heart-breaking situation as you: having to relocate your cats because of the economy. You are one of the lucky ones because you’ve found someone to adopt your cat who will give her a wonderful home. Unfortunately, many people surrender their life-time companion cats to shelters where their futures are uncertain.
Help your cat move to a new home with minimum stress. Start by bringing your cat’s belongings to her new home. Her special furniture, cat trees, cat beds, cat scratchers, toys, cat litter and litterboxes should, if possible, be included with your cat.
Encourage your cat’s new companion to set up a sanctuary room for Sugar Pie. Place all of your cat’s furniture and belongings in her room. In addition, boxes and paper bags without handles will give your cat places to retreat if she feels insecure. Your friend will need to spend special quality time with your cat in her room. After your cat feels safe and has bonded with your friend, she can open the door of the room. When your cat feels secure, she will venture out to explore her new home.
Consistency will also help your cat adjust faster to her new situation. Your friend should feed the same food and favorite treats your cat ate at your house. If possible, ask your friend to keep the same feeding schedule that you had her on. Keep the cat litter the same brand that your cat uses. In addition to your cat’s litterboxes, bring some of her used litter with her familiar scent to her new home. Additionally, if your cat enjoys particular activities, ask your friend to do them with her. For instance, if Sugar Pie likes to be played with or groomed, then encourage your friend to have daily play and grooming sessions with your cat.
The night before transporting your cat to her new home, sleep in an old shirt and on pillow cases or towels. Place one of these slept-on articles in the carrier when you transport your cat to her new home. Put the other slept-on articles on her cat furniture in her new sanctuary room. Your familiar smell will help comfort her during this difficult transition. A treat ball that you record your voice into or a simple audio recording of your voice, played occasionally the first few days that your cat is in her new home, will help her adjust with minimal stress.