9 Pro Tips for Moving a Cat Cross Country

When we first learned that we’d be moving our two cats, Andy and Fiona, from Wyoming to Washington, we knew we were in for a wild ride. Andy, the more jovial of the pair, we didn’t worry about for a second. Fiona, on the other hand, skeptical and easily spooked, has never welcomed change. Getting her to thrive in a crate in the cabin of a moving truck was going to be a challenge.

Traveling with cats is no easy feat. They’re sensitive creatures with a fondness for routine, and they have a tendency to ‘hole up’ if forced out of their comfort zones. Remember: when moving cross country, your pets’ primary sense of stability will come from one place: you.

Feeling some anxiety about the whole thing? Here are nine expert tips that will help smooth the process, both for you and for your felines.

Before the Move

1. Keep their routines, as long as possible.

In the midst of packing moving boxes, working through checklists and managing that big move budget, it can be easy to let seemingly unimportant things like scooping the litter box every day fall by the wayside. Don’t let it happen!

Cats depend on consistent routines to make sense of the world around them. The last thing you want to do is let on to the major upset that’s coming around the corner.

2. Give them consistent levels of affection.

Maintaining routine is about much more than keeping feeding schedules. It’s also important that you continue providing lots of love and affection in the midst of the pre-move hustle.

Set aside meaningful playtime, chat with them like you would in normal life and make sure they’re getting all the cuddles their used to. They will be grateful for the assurance that you’re still there for them.

3. Make a vet visit.

If you’re moving your cat across the country, it’s essential that you visit the vet before you go. In particular, you’ll want to make sure that:

  • Your cats are up to date on all vaccinations and, if they’re on medication, that you have a refill or two handy.
  • You have copies of your pet’s medical records (including an immunization passport). This will help when it comes time to register with a new vet upon arrival.
  • You ask your vet about possible cat anti-anxiety medication. While I don’t recommend this for every pet, if you suspect they will be too frightened to cope on the trip, this might be prudent.

During the Move

4. Stay calm and collected.

Your presence brings with it feelings of safety and stability, even in the midst of a hectic move. As you make the drive, focus on keeping yourself calm and collected so as not to pass any feelings of anxiety on to your cats.

If it helps you stay relaxed, I recommend downloading calming music or podcasts ahead of time. You’ll both be grateful for this!

5. Communicate with them.

Whether your cats are communicative or not, it’s a great idea to talk with them in a soothing manner. They may not get the nuances, but explaining what’s going on, reassuring them with a soft voice and helping them know that you recognize their distress can be really helpful.

6. Give them breaks here and there.

When we embarked on the 1,000 mile plus drive to Washington, all we wanted to do was go, go, go. Our cats, however, needed to be able to keep pace.

We took purposeful breaks every few hours to let them stretch and drink water outside their crates, making sure to block off any potential escape routes in the vehicle first (this is key!) and kept a small travel bin of toys and treats handy.

Note: Stress may cause your cats to become less than interested in food or using the litter box. Don’t stress it. They’ll get there in their own time.

After the Move

7. Re-establish “normal” as soon as possible.

Once you arrive at your destination, take them to a designated room that has been secured and fully outfitted with all their essentials like food, water, litter tray and toys.

Do not let them run loose in the new house until they’ve had some time to adjust! You are likely to be unfamiliar with the place, and the last thing you want to be doing is trying to lure your cat out of a remote hiding spot you never knew existed.

8. Reward good behavior.

Once you feel that your cat has had enough time to calm down, eat and use the potty, and acclimate to new smells, take them on a tour of the rest of the house. Communicate frequently, show them around, and reward their curiosity and calm with treats!

9. Give them time to adjust.

Ideally, your cat will ease into his or her new living situation without trouble. Give them plenty of time to adjust, devoting as much quality time to them as possible, and keep your eyes peeled for any sign of depression.

Need to be away from home for a period of time while you get settled? Consider hiring a pet sitter on an hourly basis to ease the separation! They’ll provide affection and care while you’re away, increasing the sense of stability that your pet so desperately needs at the close of the move.

Have you ever moved a cat cross country? What worked for you?


Marie W
Marie W29 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

Peggy B
Peggy B3 months ago

I brought my Belle from the UK. I think she handled it better than I did. I was so stressed that she would be stressed.

michela c
michela c5 months ago


Chad A
Chad Anderson7 months ago

Thank you.

Winn A
Winn Adams7 months ago

I did it with my then two kitties, Zoe and Sybil Sue in 1990. They were fine when I finally crossed the US and got to see them with the cat friendly people they were staying with until I could be with them.

John W
John W7 months ago


Paulo R
Paulo R7 months ago


John W
John W7 months ago


Elizabeth M
Past Member 7 months ago

Noted thanks a lot.

Marija M
Marija M7 months ago

Interesting, tks.