what to do if your cat keeps returning to your old house

This can be a problem if you have not moved very far from your previous home. Cats are by nature territorial. This is especially the case if you have been in your previous home a long time, your cat may have a strong urge to return to its territory. We all remember the childhood films of dogs and cats finding their way home over many miles to get back to their original house. This in reality is an unlikely scenario!

Here are some top tips when you are moving house to avoid this happening in the first place.

  • Plan ahead. Make arrangements for your cat to go into the cattery for a few days over the days around the move. Alternatively, set up a room in the new house especially for your cat.
  • If you do the latter – put all your cats normal “equipment”, in the room so they feel at home. This should include beds, toys, bowls and, if they normally toilet outdoors, you could even fill the litter tray with soil from the old garden! Allow this to be your cat’s room if possible. Do not wash their things as this will get rid of their own smell!
  • Before the moving date make sure to get your cat microchipped at your vets under your new address details. If your cat is already microchipped, call the company your cat's microchip is registered under to update them with your new address.
  • Once the move is over, you still need to keep your cat inside the house for 2-3 weeks. This allows them time to settle in and redirect their territorial instincts to your new home. Of course they don’t have to be shut in the bedroom all that time! Just be careful around doors as some cats will be very keen to escape.
  • Do use artificial pheromone sprays and diffusers all over the house. Talk to your vet about these products, which mimic the scent from a cats facial glands. A cat naturally rubs their face on things to deposit their own scent on the surroundings. This has to be “built up” by your cat in any new environment, in order for them to feel safe and secure. It is this feeling that will make them happy to stay in their new home.
  • Feed your cat their favourite food in your new home!
  • When eventually you do want to let your cat out, you may like to refer to our previous article on how to let your cat out for the first time >

If your cat still keeps returning to your old home...

If despite doing all the above, your cat still returns to your old house, it is probably worth having a conversation with the new occupants about the situation. It is not unheard of for cats to take up residence with the new owners in their old homes. However, it is rare and obviously would need a lot of discussion.