You might find it absolutely marvellous that you are moving to a house in the suburbs after living in the countryside – a lot less garden maintenance and a lot more of a social life await you! However, spare a thought for your poor cat who has been used to being able to wander wherever he pleases at any time of the day or night. You have had him since he was a kitten, and he has never had to make use of a litter box and has not been limited in any way in terms of where he could wander and explore. You could say that Smokey’s days of absolute freedom are well and truly over – he is going to have to change his whole lifestyle from now on. To help Smokey get used to his new surroundings and the fact that he is going to be restricted to where and when he can wander is going to take a considerable amount of patience, persistence and planning on your part.
This is going to have to be a gradual changeover and, depending on your cat, could happen reasonably quickly or take weeks for things to fall into place. Some cats become totally miserable when they are confined indoors, while others simply accept it as their new way of life and go with the flow, as it were. Hopefully Smokey is one of the latter types! If he is more the former in personality, he will let you know in no uncertain terms that he is really unhappy about this new set-up by howling, scratching at the door, trying to claw his way through the window panes, and of course, trying to make a dash for it every time the door opens. If possible, try to relocate during the colder months – Smokey will not mind at all if he can snuggle up in a warm dry bed. By the time the warmer season comes around, he will be quite used to, and more than happy to sleep indoors rather than outside.
The trick is to get a head start on this problem and introduce Smokey to a litter box and scratch post before relocating to your new home. When he has finished eating keep him inside and show him the litter box – he will soon get the idea as to what he is supposed to do with it. Give your furniture a sporting chance of survival and provide Smokey with his own scratchpost as well. Gradually increase the time that you keep him inside after feeding – this will help when you move to your new home and probably shorten the amount of time it is going to take him to get used to being an inside cat.
Use this time to get your family used to closing doors very quickly after being opened so that once you are in your new home this will have long since been habit. Another good idea is to get the members of your family into playing indoors with Smokey as much as possible. Smokey will not only love the attention, but it will also take his mind off the fact that he is not outside – where he actually wants to be.
Plant catnip, alfalfa, grass, or wheat grass in pots – Smokey will really appreciate you providing greens for him to munch on, and he will not end up destroying your beloved houseplants. Also, once you have relocated, do consider Smokey’s physical and emotional needs just as you would your own and those of your kids and provide him with a safe and stimulating environment that he will enjoy. Exercise patience, give him lots of love, and provide him with plenty of toys to keep him in good physical shape and young at heart in your new home and he will love you just as much, if not more than before.