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Moving a cat to a new home

Some cats are quite traumatized by a move to a new home; others take it in stride. It is best, however, to prepare for this usually upsetting time in a cat's life. Since cats are very territorial, moving one to a new territory can be terrifying, especially if the new territory is inhabited by a number of other cats.

The first thing to do to help make your cat comfortable about the move is to clean the new house thoroughly if it has been lived in before, especially if other cats have lived there. Then, unpack your belongings and put familiar furniture in place.

Position the cat's litterbox in a quiet, out of the way spot. As soon as your cat is taken to the new house, show her the litterbox. Do the same for the new feeding area. If your cat has a bed or favorite bedding material, lay it in place and show her where that is, too. Let her wander the house, looking and smelling.

If your cat chooses not to eat for a few days, or hides out somewhere, just let her be. Sooner or later, she will be comfortable enough to resume normal living.

It will be best to keep your cat in the house for at least three weeks. If she has been an outside cat, once she starts going out you can get rid of the litterbox. The first adventure outside should be under your control, preferably with kitty on a leash and harness. Or, at the very least, leave the door open and go out with your cat. If she gets frightened or chased, she can run into the house. The key is to give her a chance to get familiar with the interior of the house as a safe haven before letting her outside.

If you have not taught your cat to come when she is called, do it now. Disregard that "I'll take a message and get back to you" look. Start the training in the house. Call, "Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty." When she comes, reward her with her favorite food treat. Do this ten or twelve times. Then, when you kitty goes outside and you are not sure where she is, just call, and she will come running. Periodically reward her for coming, and the learning will be fixed forever.