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How to Talk to Your Cats About Moving

Comfort Zone Advisory Panel Animal Advocate, Hannah Shaw

Moving is a stressful time. Packing up the house, lifting heavy boxes, parting with items that won’t be making the trek, and saying goodbye to friends and neighbors can take a physical and emotional toll. But while preparing to move my entire life 3,000 miles from Washington DC to California this summer, I wasn’t just thinking about the stressors that would be impacting me personally—I was also coming to terms with the fact that my three cats would be experiencing that stress right along with me.

As a kitten rescuer and humane educator, I know first-hand how much minor changes in routine and environment can affect our pets’ wellbeing – let alone a stressful life event like a cross-country move. We may tell them not to worry, or provide them with an epic monologue about the great life that lies ahead…but ultimately, we all know cats are far from fluent in our language. Although cats may not have a great comprehension of the spoken word, that doesn’t mean we can’t communicate with them in other ways to convey comfort and positivity during times of transition! By using reassuring body language and vocal tone, providing a stable environment during the move, and using calming pheromone products, we can let our feline friends know that everything will be just fine.

Cats have unique facial pheromones which communicate feelings of safety and ownership. Just like cats can’t comprehend our words, we can’t perceive the chemicals they emit—but if you’ve ever noticed your cat rubbing the side of her cheek against items in your home (or if you’re lucky, against you!) then you’ve seen a cat marking her zone with facial pheromones. When sniffed, the cat is filled with a confidence that tells them: this is my safe space—my home.

When the cat’s home is under threat, one of the best things we can do is communicate stability to them in a language that they can understand. Based on my past moving experience, I knew that my cats would have a hard time with the move and transition. Cats like my shy girl Eloise can become extremely distressed as they watch their treasured possessions disappear into boxes; without support, Eloise is prone to physical tension and stress behaviors like hiding and growling. Knowing that she has anxiety about change, it was very important to me to plan ahead and address these stress behaviors preventatively so that my cats can go through the experience as calm as possible. This time, I was able to get ahead of the game, thanks to Comfort Zone® products. Before starting to pack up the house, my first step was to plug in my Comfort Zone® calming diffusers. The diffusers fit right into any outlet in the home and mimic a cat’s natural pheromones, which creates a soothing, peaceful environment. When used in conjunction with other stabilizing factors such as behavioral routines and familiar objects, they can play a major role in easing stress during times of change.

As furniture and boxes began disappearing into the moving van, I staged the home with a full set up of all the cats’ favorite things: cat beds, soft blankets, enrichment items, scratchers, and tons of toys. I also set out a new item—travel carriers—to help them get accustomed in anticipation of our trip. As a finishing touch, I spritzed their carriers, beds and blankets with the Comfort Zone® Calming Spray. Immediately, the cats began sniffing the items—and Haroun even went inside of the carrier for the first time and took a little nap! Even as the home became barren, I continued with their standard playtime, treats, and cuddles to establish a stable routine during the move. Before departing for our trip, I refreshed their carriers with the calming sprays to help them feel at ease even during our cross-country escapade.

The stress of a move doesn’t end upon arrival in the new destination; cats are likely to feel confused, lost and even scared in an unfamiliar territory. As cats cope with the insecurity of a new and unfamiliar space, they can engage in stress behaviors like hiding, fighting, or even territorial marking. By setting up the new space with familiar items and smells, we can help them understand that they are in a place that is rightfully theirs. Yes, I’ll admit that I do still give my cats pep talks about their new home—but I know at the end of the day the real communication happens by talking to them in a language they comprehend. With a little help from their favorite toys and treats, some gentle chin scratches, and the silent language of feline pheromone products, they’re quickly learning that they are right where they belong: safe at home.

Payment has been provided in exchange for this review, but the opinions and observations are mine.

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Category: Cat Stress & Anxiety | Comfort Zone