stressed cat after move

Cat Stress After Moving

Our question this week was:

Dear. Dr. Debra,

My cat recently traveled with me to Arizona from Minneapolis. He did well the most of the trip now however since we have been here, we cannot get him to eat, neither drink much and he doesn’t seem to void much. He is very stressed out still and this is the 5th day in our new home. Please recommend something we can do to help our cat!

Brandon Hall


Hi – thanks for your email. Your cat sounds stressed! Moving can be very stressful on cats. What makes things even more difficult is that cats can get very sick from not eating and actually create big problems (such as fatty liver disease). If it has been five days, that is a long time. If he isn’t urinating much, that is probably because he is not drinking enough. He may be dehydrated.

I hate to stress him more but I think its time to take him to your veterinarian. I’m worried that there could be something else going on or we are far enough behind the 8-ball that we won’t be able to get him to eat quickly enough to catch up his needs and hydration.

Generally, when someone moves, I have several recommendations. These include getting the cat as quickly into a small area that is “stable”, quiet and has familiar smells. Essentially, you are trying to create a nitch away from the moving commotion. I try to minimize as many changes as possible and recreate as many familiarities from his previous environment as possible in the new place.

For example, I like to take a bathroom or a small bedroom and set it aside for the cat. Move what you need in and make it an area that you can “isolate” from most of the moving noises, foot traffic and strangers. In that room, make sure that your cat has his same food (this is NO time to change his diet), and water bowls, same litter box and litter, same bed, toys and blankets. Try to make the environment enriched with as many familiar items and smells as possible. If there is a lot of noise, consider putting a radio on low to help block out some of the moving noises.

Also, try to keep a routine if possible. If he is used to getting canned food twice a day, try to keep with that routine.

Take extra time to cuddle and sit with him – spend lots of quiet time during the transition.

A disease we worry about in cats that get stressed and won’t eat is called Fatty Liver Disease – or “Hepatic Lipidosis“.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

P.S. One more thing, just to be safe, please make sure your kitty has a collar with an ID tag and a microchip. If he gets scared or runs out the door when one of the inattentive workers leaves it open, it gives you the best chance of being reunited with your kitty. Make sure the tag indicates your current phone number and contact information. Ensure your contact information with the microchip company is also current.