How Long do I keep my Cats Inside when I Move to a New House?

by Diane
(atascadero ca)

Hi Dr Neely

I am moving soon to a new home from an apartment. I have 2 cats, one is an outdoor cat and is 12 years old, the other is an indoor cat that is 2 years old. How long after I move should I keep my cats in before I let them out? And should I confine them to one room at first. My younger cat usally sleeps with me. Also I am debating on letting my 2 year old outside, she has only been outside on my back porch that was on the second floor. She dosen't really try to get out when I open the door she is more interested in just being there when I come home. What do you think.


Dear Diane,

My automatic answer to your question was "Forever". I know that's not what you're considering or asking, however.

I'm a HUGE indoor advocate, but I certainly respect others' opinions and circumstances and decisions.

I have moved several times in my lifetime and always had cats moving with me. I always start them out in one room with their food and water and litter. I keep them there for a day or two or three or whatever it takes for them to start acting normal and comfortable in that room. Then I leave the door to that room open and let them come out as they please to explore the rest of the house and they know that they have that room to run back to if they are frightened. It becomes and has often remained their permanent "home base". If you want the two-year-old to sleep with you, the home base could be your bedroom. You'd have to keep the door shut for a day or two and be willing to have the litter in there with you.

Concerning when to let them outside, I would always err on the side of caution. You want your cats to be very well aware that the new location is their home and they should stay close before you let them out. I would suggest at least a week, more if that's possible. I also would let them be very familiar with the inside first and wait until they are really begging to go out if that's what they do.

If your younger cat is not accustomed to going out, I would keep her in. There's too many dangers outside and I personally don't do so well when my cat is suddenly missing or injured or found dead on the road. I have 6 cats and they do not go out and they have a very happy life indoors. Again, there are varying opinions about this. My opinion is certainly influenced by what I have seen during my years of practice. I see the worst and I see too much of it.

Good Luck with your move. I hope this has helped. Thank you for writing,
Dr. Neely

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