Moving House With Cats

One month ago, on the 10th of June 2014, my fiancée and I moved house from Liverpool to Lowerstoft, taking our two cats with us. Having never done this before, it was an interesting and quite educational experience, and now that they’re both more or less settled in I decided to write about it.

Lucy and Tabbs at the Liverpool homeLucy (left) and Tabbs (right)

Both these cats were strays – not long after our old cat Sweep died, they noticed the vacancy and started hanging out in our garden. Eventually Lucy was bold enough to come into our house, and Tabbs soon followed, after a little encouragement from us, since even now he’s quite skittish.

That was four years ago, and in that time they’ve become a much loved part of the family. We knew them well enough by now to be a little concerned about the journey, a five-hour drive at least, plus an extra hour for rest stops. Lucy we expected to be quite subdued, but Tabbs we knew would be most upset about the whole affair.

Given what we knew of our cats’ natures, in hindsight it probably wasn’t the best idea to put a water tray and biscuits in Tabbs’ cage. Once we wrangled him into it, his thrashing around meant the water lasted approximately fifteen seconds before ending up on the floor of the cage, soaking into the biscuits and creating a most unpleasant smell. Moreover, it meant Tabbs had to sit in a puddle in cramped conditions for many hours, further adding to his misery.

And gosh did he let us know it: both of them made noises we’d never heard from them before. Lucy is usually a very quiet cat, usually making more of a squeak than a meaow, but in that cage she let out some surprisingly loud yells, although thankfully not very often. Tabbs, on the other hand, almost literally cried like a baby, quite a heart-wrenching sound.

Initially we had Tabbs on the back seat of the car, covered in a blanket in the hope that blocking all the noise and motion from outside would help keep him calm, but we soon decided it wasn’t helping, so swapped his place with Lucy on my lap, and that seemed to help since I was able to stroke him and otherwise sooth him somewhat.

Arrival

It was a huge relief to finally arrive at the new house, for all of us. We left the cats on the lawn outside, so they could get some fresh air, while we moved all our stuff in. Luckily it was a nice day, warm and with a gentle breeze.

Our things inside, we opened the cages and let the cats roam around their new home. The plan was to keep them inside for at least a week, so as not to overwhelm them too much.

Of the two, Tabbs surprised us by being the most adventurous, exploring the whole house and becoming comfortable with his new home much quicker than Lucy.

Tabbs cleaning himself after exploring the houseTabbs happily cleaning himself after a brief exploration of the new house

Lucy took longer to settle in. For the first five days or so, she retreated to the corner of our bedroom, hiding behind boxes or packing materials.

Lucy hiding behind a box and some bubble wrap

She also ate very little, until one magical moment that finally seemed to break the ice: Zoe was sitting in bed eating a tuna mayo sandwich, and the smell must have been enticing enough for Lucy to overcome her fears. In fact, it emboldened her so much that she tried to grab some tuna out the sandwich even while Zoe was eating it!

Settling

In order to help them feel more at home, we brought a few things from the old house that they both liked.

Lucy on her perchLucy on her perch. She actually uses it more now than she did in the previous house.

Tabbs and his well-used scratching postTabbs and his well-used scratching post

Soon it was time to expand their horizons, and the first step was letting them out into the back garden. Fortunately it’s surrounded on all sides by quite high fences, although not, as we later discovered, too high for them to jump up on to.

Zoe with Tabbs in our back gardenZoe with Tabbs in out back garden

Lucy in our back garden

It was clear that both cats were greatly curious about what lay beyond the front door, and that simply looking out the front windows wasn’t enough, so soon the time came to let them out to explore the street.

Tabbs’ first time out the front doorTabbs of course led the way

When we first went on a walk to explore the area, we came across a seemingly friendly orange cat.

enemy orange cat

However, it seems that orange cat thinks it the boss around here, and has had several heated discussions with Tabbs on the matter.

Tabbs and orange cat having a territorial dispute

In fact, things got so loud that orange cat’s owner came and took it away, and since then things have been pretty peaceful.

Both our cats are fairly well settled here now, going in and out as they please via the cat flap on the back door. Since it’s a fairly quiet cul-de-sac, we’re comfortable with them exploring the street, and are just happy they are with us in our new home.


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