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We are likely making a significant move this summer, relocating two states away, about a 12-hr drive. We have a cat who is strictly an outdoor cat (this is a JAWM point; she adopted us roughly 9 years ago and wouldn’t leave, and I am allergic to her). If the weather is bad we let her into the garage.  My kids are very attached to her and they’d be pretty upset if we tried to re-home her. 
 

I guess I’m wondering about the logistics of moving a cat who has been outside at one location for 99.99% of her life. How do you take a cat like that on a 12-hour drive? I’m mostly worried about bathroom breaks. She will use a litter box when she’s in the garage. Do I just take one in the car? Put a harness and leash (that she’s not used to) on her and walk her like you would a dog? And how do I teach her to stay at our new location?  She’s very attached to my kids, one kid in particular, and I don’t think she’d wander off, but I don’t know. 

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When I was 16, we moved from west Tennessee to South Dakota, a distance of something like 15 hours, with my then 9 year old cat who had always been outdoors.  We had a harness and leash and tried to walk her at rest stops.  This.....did not go well.  She escaped from the harness and climbed under the undercarriage of a car from Nebraska, leading to an hour long attempt to get her out from under this stranger's car.  We had a litter box in the car, which I don't think she used.  Honestly, I think she just held it for the entire trip.  I've made cross country moves twice as an adult with cats, and honestly, I'm pretty sure they've all just held it in the car.  I'm pretty sure no cat has used a litter box in the moving car, although we've always provided one.  If you're going to try tranquilizers, do a trial run first.  We had one cat who was terrified of the carrier but the tranquilizers just made her dopey and terrified.  It was better off just leaving her loose in the car.  

When we got previously outdoor cat to South Dakota, we just made her an inside cat.  Because of your allergy, this is probably not a great move.  I was shocked at how well our cat transitioned, but she was pretty calm tempermentally.  I would leave her in the garage in the new location for at least a week or two and get her used to eating and using the litter box there before I let her outside in the new location.  

I'll be honest; there's a chance it might not go well moving her.  Cats can be territorial and she may try to make her way "home."  But, if she has a solid base of your house being where she eats and where her litter box is, the odds are a lot better, I think.

 

Edited by Terabith
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This is the advice given by one of the local shelters, who sometimes adopts out "working cats" to people who want cats to provide natural pest control in barns or workplaces:

To prevent her from running away or getting lost at your new location, you should keep her inside for at least two weeks, preferably longer. Keep her in a room where she is able to see out the windows, so she gets familiar with the lay of the land. Once she is settled in, start letting her out for short periods while you supervise her. Gradually increase the amount of outside time while decreasing the amount of supervision.

 

 

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I've done a move similar to what you are suggesting, under similar circumstances: allergies, and a cat which had adopted us. What we did was essentially what @Selkie explained. It took some effort, but worked.

We constructed a shed, with heated box* inside and windows, and surrounded it with a large chain-link fence dog pen before we moved the cat (she stayed with my parents during this interval). After we moved the cat, she was first confined to the shed for a week or two. Then we expanded her range to include the fenced area, under supervision since she could climb. Of course we spent time with her in her shed. I got a comfortable chair from a thrift shop, and made the shed cozy.

By the time she had been there a few weeks, she was familiar with the yard from within the safe confines of her shed and yard. We put a cat door on the shed and let her have more freedom gradually. She acclimated very well.

If you're moving 12 hours away, clearly you'd need to modify the plan, but maybe you could have something ready for her before the move.

* https://www.amazon.com/Pet-Products-3993-Outdoor-17-Inches/dp/B07HMPRTXF/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=heated+cat+houses+for+outdoor+cats+in+winter&qid=1618280549&sprefix=heated+cat&sr=8-3 (This worked for our climate at the time we were making the move, but she spends cold weather in the garage now. Ymmv.)

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I have to post quickly, but I hope the two articles below will be helpful, even though she is not feral. Initial confinement at her new home is essential and this can be done outside. 

https://www.alleycat.org/community-cat-care/safe-relocation/

https://www.neighborhoodcats.org/how-to-tnr/colony-care/relocation

Hope all goes well. Bless you for taking her with you.

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In addition to keeping her inside for at least two weeks after you get to your new home, you should know that for over 600 years Old Wives have been advising people to butter their cats when moving to a new location to get them to stay put. I don't know if it works, lol, but it can't hurt to try.

(But yes, keep Kitty inside for at least the first two weeks.)

Edit: Also, for the car ride, definitely keep her confined while driving. The last thing you need is a panicked cat suddenly deciding to launch herself out the driver's window while you're on the freeway.

Edited by Tanaqui
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44 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

In addition to keeping her inside for at least two weeks after you get to your new home, you should know that for over 600 years Old Wives have been advising people to butter their cats when moving to a new location to get them to stay put. I don't know if it works, lol, but it can't hurt to try.

(But yes, keep Kitty inside for at least the first two weeks.)

Edit: Also, for the car ride, definitely keep her confined while driving. The last thing you need is a panicked cat suddenly deciding to launch herself out the driver's window while you're on the freeway.

LOLLOL is this a typo? I’m picturing myself slathering this cat with butter, and I’m pretty sure I would not come through that intact 😂😂😂

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27 minutes ago, Forget-Me-Not said:

LOLLOL is this a typo? I’m picturing myself slathering this cat with butter, and I’m pretty sure I would not come through that intact 😂😂😂

No, the story is that you put butter on the cat's paws, and the cat licks it off.  It's a distraction.  

You also definitely want to make sure kitty has a (breakaway) collar with tag with phone number as well as microchip with current information.  

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We've moved a cat from NC to ND, and two cats from ND to SoCal & back. We had a large SUV (Expedition) that we set up a large dog crate in the back (door off) with a litter box inside the crate. This allowed us to pack other items around and above the box while maintaining privacy and access for the kitties to potty. The cats were allowed to roam about the back & hang out in the 2nd row with the kids. These were multi-day trips in which the cats spent the night in the vehicle (pet-friendly hotel means dog-friendly), so they definitely used the box.

Ours were all indoor cats, so I have no experience with getting them to stay at the new location, but it looks like you've gotten some great advice already. Good luck with your move!

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Oh, no, I'm completely serious! You put the butter on the paws, and that a. feels irritating and b. tastes great, so they sit down to get all the butter off their paws, and the idea is that when they're done they feel at home. Because they groomed themselves very thoroughly in this new place, so now it is their place.

And if you're introducing two cats you're supposed to put butter on their paws and faces so they start to groom each other. Or maybe it's tuna juice? IDK, I think people just like buttering their cats.

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You also definitely want to make sure kitty has a (breakaway) collar with tag with phone number as well as microchip with current information.  

To be clear, the microchip does NOT contain the information. You have to get the microchip number from the vet (they can scan the chip to get the number) and then register in as many free databases as you can find on the internet.

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8 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

In addition to keeping her inside for at least two weeks after you get to your new home, you should know that for over 600 years Old Wives have been advising people to butter their cats when moving to a new location to get them to stay put. I don't know if it works, lol, but it can't hurt to try.

(But yes, keep Kitty inside for at least the first two weeks.)

Edit: Also, for the car ride, definitely keep her confined while driving. The last thing you need is a panicked cat suddenly deciding to launch herself out the driver's window while you're on the freeway.

Years ago, we made such a move and when talking to someone at work, I was asked with excitement if we had put mayo on the cats' paws and I was like 😳.  The only thing the other person knew was that it somehow helped but didn't know why.  Your post, and the follow-up post explains that so well. Thank you for solving a more than *three decade* mystery!

And, I'm sorry, but all I could think of back then was visions of the cats shaking the mayo off of their paws and having to clean mayo off of the carpets, walls, etc. LOL.

5 hours ago, fraidycat said:

We've moved a cat from NC to ND, and two cats from ND to SoCal & back. We had a large SUV (Expedition) that we set up a large dog crate in the back (door off) with a litter box inside the crate. This allowed us to pack other items around and above the box while maintaining privacy and access for the kitties to potty. The cats were allowed to roam about the back & hang out in the 2nd row with the kids. These were multi-day trips in which the cats spent the night in the vehicle (pet-friendly hotel means dog-friendly), so they definitely used the box.

Ours were all indoor cats, so I have no experience with getting them to stay at the new location, but it looks like you've gotten some great advice already. Good luck with your move!

This.

We used a large dog crate to move our cat a few months ago on a 12 hour move, but we left the cat in the cage in case of an accident and in case he got out when we made a stop. He used the box one time and was so zen on the whole trip, it was amazing.

We tried the leash thing when I was a kid and it didn't go well. At. All. I will never, ever try that method again.

OP, I can't help with the outside-only part of it, but I would get a dog crate (ours was 20 x 30 x 30, I think, and fit in our SUV wonderfully. I bought a small litter box from Amazon for about $3 and that took up half of the crate's space while an old beach towel took up the rest. Kitty had plenty of room to move around. I also brought extra cat litter, some grocery bags & a scoop, paper towels, and some disposable gloves.  It ALL came in handy when I scooped his box that one time. I figured I was prepared for either potty accidents or vomit. It's also recommended to bring some water from home in case water you find along the way makes their tummies upset. We had one individual water bottle for this, so it didn't take up much space. Food/water was offered while parked and the doors were closed in case kitty got out while we opened the cage's door.

I would also get a microchip & make sure the info is up to date online. We changed the address to our destination the day before we left.

We also didn't offer much food or water in the hopes of avoiding an upset tummy. We offered some of each about half way though as we didn't want to dehydrate the cat (that causes bigger issues than having to deal with a cat with traveler's tummy. The cat ate a bit (part of one of those pureed pouches) and drank a bit but that was all. We offered a full meal when we reached our destination and it was well-received.

The info about acclimating to your new location is spot on. If you have a garage at your new place, that can also help with keeping the cat indoors/contained until it's less stressed about the move and realizes that the new place is its new home.

Oh, anything with the cat's smell should be brought to the new place, even if you plan on replacing it at some point. That will also alert her that "this is my new home". If you don't have anything like that, I'd set out an old towel or two and see if she'll start laying on it to get her smell and don't wash it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Years ago, we made such a move and when talking to someone at work, I was asked with excitement if we had put mayo on the cats' paws and I was like 😳.  The only thing the other person knew was that it somehow helped but didn't know why.  Your post, and the follow-up post explains that so well. Thank you for solving a more than *three decade* mystery!

 

Confirmation of my hypothesis that, whether or not this is helpful, people also just really like buttering their cats.

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We've moved often but our cats have been inside cats. One was inside/outside at the time. 

Don't do the harness. It was a disaster and we only tried once. Put the cat in the crate with a litter box or pee pad, some water, and leave it there. It will be fine. If there's a mess, be prepared to replace bedding at a rest area. The only time we had an accident was when the cat got carsick. If you can, stopping overnight at a hotel so the cat is only in the crate 6 hrs or so is helpful.

We sedated our cats for the longest move and it helped. I requested it ahead of time and the vet said to use as needed. This guy was high maintenance and meowed NONSTOP until we used the pill and he chilled out. 

At the new home, for the indoor/outdoor cat, we kept him inside for several weeks. Then we let him outside with us and supervised, then we gave him some freedom. He's indoor only now, however, because there's too many animals here for me to feel safe with him out there.

If you can't at least keep your cat in a garage for a few weeks, maybe you could get a catio or something like that? 

 

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8 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

Oh, no, I'm completely serious! You put the butter on the paws, and that a. feels irritating and b. tastes great, so they sit down to get all the butter off their paws, and the idea is that when they're done they feel at home. Because they groomed themselves very thoroughly in this new place, so now it is their place.

And if you're introducing two cats you're supposed to put butter on their paws and faces so they start to groom each other. Or maybe it's tuna juice? IDK, I think people just like buttering their cats.

😂 ok this makes much more sense!  I was picturing slathering the entire cat in butter;  she’s got med-length fur and a lot of it. That would be a terrific mess! 
 

@Paige yeah someone here said something about catios a few weeks ago, and I think we may buy one. It sort of depends on what the living situation is when we move. If we stay with family a bit while we have a house built, there’s an obnoxious little dog that will be added to the mix, and they’ll need to be kept separate. 

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