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ASK THE VET

Give Your Cats Time to Feel at Home

October 05, 1989|DR. GLENN ERICSON | Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is immediate past president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn

Q. We share our home with three indoor/outdoor cats. They have easy access to the house through a cat door. We are planning a move sometime in October and are very concerned about how to move these cats and what to do with them once we are in our new home. I'm afraid to let them go out in fear they may not find our new home again. They are not accustomed to a litter box.-Madeline Contract,Garden Grove

A. Moving pets to a new home will require some planning on your part to prepare your cats for a big change in their lives. You should start to train them to a litter box by confining them indoors more often, even if it means confining them to a room where they are fed and a litter box is available. This way, they will be ready for a limited indoor restriction when you get to your new home. It may take one or two weeks of patience, but it will be worth it.

When you arrive in your new home, keep the cats indoors, maybe even restricted mostly to a room with a box and their food. Allow them some time to explore their new home without a lot of distraction. This way they will get used to the new scents in the house and become familiar with where everything is located. After they are accustomed to the new surroundings and all the local sounds, you might let them outside in the back yard while you are present. Leave a door open as an escape route back into the house. Go and do your yard work while they are outside with you, letting them adapt. Once they feel comfortable, you might try letting them go out by themselves, but leave an opening back into the house. Soon they will feel just as comfortable as they did in their old home and will give you no cause for concern. You might check with neighbors who have pets to make sure that there are no local problems with pets being outside or if there is a neighbor who objects to cats being in his yard. I'm sure they will enjoy their new home.

You should talk to your veterinarian to see if sedatives will be necessary for the move. It will depend on the type of transportation and the length of the trip. Most cats settle down in a car once they have been on the road for an hour or so. Do keep them in a carrier to prevent any accidental escapes.

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