How to introduce our scaredy cat to our new apartment?
February 15, 2013 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Should we bring our cat to our new and currently empty apartment while we paint and assemble furniture, to let her get used to it - even though we are not actually moving for another week.

My SO and I are moving to a new apartment in a week. This Saturday and Sunday, we will be painting and assembling some furniture at the new place.

One of our three cats is particularly nervous - both in new places and around the other two cats.

We are considering taking her with us to the new apartment this weekend while we work, to let her get used to the new place. We would bring litter, food, water, and one of her blankets, and would of course take her with us when we leave.

Our questions: 1. Would our cat benefit from visiting the new apartment while we work, without the other cats? 2. Should we bring her one day or both days?

We have already ordered several Feliway diffusers, and will set them up in the apartment when they arrive.

(I apologize for the lack of kitty pics. I am posting this from my phone, and will provide pics when I come home.)

Please advise before Saturday!
posted by rawrberry to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I wouldn't, though I don't know your cat. But I have two nervous cats, and they would both really hate being in a new place with no or very little furniture to hide behind/under, and they would hatehatehate the chaotic smells and noises that are inevitable when painting and assembling things. Especially in an unfamiliar place with no good place to hide.
posted by rtha at 8:30 AM on February 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: My scaredy cat hides whenever furniture gets moved, even in a home he's been used to for over a year now. For him, watching us paint and/or assemble furniture even in a familiar environment is terrifying. Taking a car ride before and after and then being in a brand new place with very little furniture to hide behind? Hellish. I guess it depends on your particular cat, but I know with mine this plan would instill more fear of the new place rather than ease his mind.

Congrats on the new place! Looking forward to kitty pics!!!
posted by vytae at 8:30 AM on February 15, 2013

Best answer: If your cat is particularly nervous, I'm not sure how an empty, echoey, apartment with lots of paint fumes and general clattering as you assemble furniture is likely to help. Particularly if you then leave again.

It sounds to me like she'd respond better to being able to go there once, when it is settled, and stay there rather than have the upheaval of one small visit when it is all weird and odd and then come back later.
posted by Brockles at 8:32 AM on February 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would wait until all the painting and such is done. Moving is hard enough on a cat without having to deal with all the craziness. (My cat hid under my bed when I was cleaning my apartment.)

When you pack up, seclude the cats in their own room (or nervous cat in one, other cats in another) so they don't freak out. When you move, it's probably a good idea to move the nervous cat first, and put her in her own room (as well as the other cats getting their own room), and give introduce her and the other cats to the apartment slowly. It's basically breaking up the change into small chunks, so rather than get overwhelmed, the kitties can adjust to each little change before another one is thrown at them.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:32 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would say not.

The act of moving is pretty stressful to a cat, and I'd want to minimize that as much as possible. In my experience, moving several times with anxious cats, a few hours isn't enough time for them to become comfortable in a new space anyway.

Given the minimal benefit of familiarization balanced against the high stress of repeated transports, I try to only do the move once with the animals, and only when I'm able to spend the night in the new place.
posted by bonehead at 8:34 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd avoid it while painting, but am not sure it's that terrible an idea if you're just putting furniture together, depending on how exactly she is a skittish cat. She will probably like having no other cats to irritate her. But cat fur + fresh paint sounds like a horrible disaster.
posted by jeather at 8:37 AM on February 15, 2013

Nope. Cats and paint is not a good mix as they are magnetically attracted to one another by Sod's Second Law of Attraction, and cats already nervous do not like being in an environment where everything is moving about them.

Wait until they can move in and everything is settled, and they can walk round and have a good explore of your place at ease.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:49 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Concur with the crowd that furniture assembly in particular is oddly terrifying to cats.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:59 AM on February 15, 2013

Nope, plus do you want your little furr-ball underfoot with all that stuff going on.

She'll be much more comfortable going into a new place with her pride and familiar things in the apartment.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:01 AM on February 15, 2013

Best answer: No, you'll be replacing a couple nights of stress with a week of stress. Do it only once, rip off the band-aid, and minimize the fears that arise from this transition.
posted by Miko at 9:02 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait for everything to be settled before you move her. That reduces the amount of change she has to deal with to one big sudden change, rather than one big sudden change plus a lot of stomping around, moving furniture, scary stinks and sounds, etc, etc, etc.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:45 AM on February 15, 2013

I'd wait until all the furniture and smells she is familiar with are in the apartment, that will help make the new place less scary. I tend to board animals, or leave them with family they kow the day before moving and pick them up when all the furniture etc is in place in the new location (usually the day after). While boarding is scary to my mind it is less scary than all the chaos of moving day, add to that the stress of strangers, if you are having friends or movers help and the chance of animals escaping and it just is less stressful for all concerned.
posted by wwax at 9:50 AM on February 15, 2013

My super adaptable dog was so incredibly freaked out when we were moving and had no furniture for a day. I was sleeping on the floor, he was supposed to sleep in his bed, and he basically ran around my room in circles. A big, empty space is weird for an animal.

The new apartment with our old stuff was fine, though.

And also: If it's not fine right off the bat, don't worry about it. If your cat has anxiety issues, she might take a while to adjust, but that doesn't mean she is forever a broken kitty.

Good luck!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:57 AM on February 15, 2013

No - cats are comforted by the smells of their humans.

To make it easiest, bathe her in your smell. You want to wait till you move in, put her in your bedroom with your bed that smells like you and perhaps a dirty t-shirt for the first few days, and only once you've been around the house for a few days and it smells a bit like you, let her out.
posted by zug at 9:57 AM on February 15, 2013

I'll be devil's advocate and say that you could move her in early, after you have painted and aired out the place. Assemble furniture in one room, give her plenty of places to hide under and in, even if you have to put in cardboard boxes, curtain the windows so it's fairly dim, and put in the Feliway and dirty, sweaty T-shirts for her to sleep on. Allow her to be in this one room quietly. That may make this room a refuge for her when you move in, as she'd already be adapted to it. Although whether or not you can get this set up before the week is out may be moot.

Please air the paint out a bit before kitteh moves in.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:23 AM on February 15, 2013

Not until you're there and definitely not while you paint. Cats have sensitive noses and the smell of paint would make the place hostile for them.
I never move my cats to a new place until the night I am there to sleep with them, so they know that this is their human's home too.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:27 AM on February 15, 2013

Response by poster: Alright, it's pretty clear that the consensus is NOPE, NOPE, NOPE.

We'll keep our little scaredy cat at home, and move all three later. We'll be using several of your ideas - along with lots of Feliway - to help get the cats settled in the new apartment.

Thank you all for your input!

A grateful kitty pic: Scaredy Cat in the fuzzy cave, Most Curious Cat right in her face, and Quiet Cat watching from a safe distance.
posted by rawrberry at 12:09 PM on February 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

« Older Can't we just be happy the way we were?   |   I'd like advice on where to post my resume, SF... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.