Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

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Haitchy73
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Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Haitchy73 » Sun Jun 21, 2020 9:28 am

Hi all, hoping for some advice from anyone who has experience with elderly cats/ moving home?
Our cat (Deeley) has just turned 20 this month, but has started to decline in health in the past 6 months.
She is steadily losing weight (but still has an appetite) her stomach makes very loud ‘draining’ noises which are disconcerting, and she is very often sick overnight (this is mostly a very large quantity of watery yellow bile?)
She has arthritis in her hips and staffers a bit, and is deaf. She also consumes a lot of water. She still uses her cat flap and toilets outside, but is generally content, purrs, and can jump onto the sofa for attention.
The vet has checked her over, and other than the expected age related health issues, there are no obvious red flags? Obviously, we could spend a lot more time and money exploring more deeply, but we all agree, it’s probably futile?
We are due to move house in August which will involve traveling a substantial distance and a three hour drive. I am worried about the stress this will cause her, and how best to tackle it? Cattery is a definite no go, though I have considered leaving her at my parents for a few days whilst we get the worst of the move done, but is this just adding to her stress?
My husband thinks it is time to say goodbye, but I don’t want to have her put to sleep for our convenience (however, I would consider it if that is the advice for her wellbeing). I am happy to clean up after her forever as long as I feel she still has quality of life.
I absolutely love her to pieces, and can’t imagine being without her.
Thank you all for your advice - please be kind!

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Kay
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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Kay » Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:37 pm

if you can set up a room for her in the new house before doing any furniture shifting, with things she is used to, and then shut the door and post up a notice that it is not to be opened under pain of death, she should be OK - you will need of course a litter tray, and probably at her age you would be wise to keep her in permanently, unless you will have a garden that is catproof.

I have travelled from Surrey to West Wales with a cat in a carrier in the back of a removal van, and she was fine, but she was sedated before the van was loaded up, and I'm not sure if vets are willing to give tranquillizers these days - you could ask though. But three hours in a carrier with a cloth over it in a car should be doable. Her age would, I imagine, make her cope more easily with the journey than a younger cat, as hopefully she will sleep for most of it.

Personally from you own point of view, any inconvenience is going to be less that the guilt you would feel if you said goodbye to her now.

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by fjm » Sun Jun 21, 2020 3:38 pm

I agree - plan to take her with you, and review whether it is still in her interests closer to the time. If possible I would select a small room in the new house and fill it with things that are familiar to her - perhaps a favourite chair, her bed and tray, etc - and then keep her shut away from all the chaos of moving, only letting her out into more of the house when things are quiet and sorted. If that is impossible I would get a large dog crate, put it in the quietest possible place again with familiar smelling bed, tray, food and water, and cover it with a throw. It would also be a good idea to sort out a vet in advance of moving, just in case of emergencies.

I once moved with a much younger cat - the carpets were delayed, the furniture was heaped in the sitting room, and we slept on mattresses for the first night. For the only time in his life Toby slept under the duvet, with his front legs wrapped round my leg so I couldn't leave him. Next day I shut him in the cloakroom while carpets were laid, furniture shifted, curtains hung and all the rest of it. By evening he was utterly miserable, till I took him up to a room that had most of the furniture from my flat - it was lovely to see him take it all in, carefully touch and sniff everything, and then sprawl on the sofa for a snooze.

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Haitchy73 » Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:34 pm

Great advice, thank you.
Yes, we are taking the old family room sofa that we, the dogs and Deeley all share. I’m hoping to put this in the conservatory initially and leave them in there together whilst we sort the rest of the house.
I will ask the vet about sedation as she has never been in the car further than the vets before, and being deaf means she can’t hear me trying to soothe her whilst I’m driving?
She is a bag of bones and might not make it to August anyhow, but will obviously plan to take her and do my best to settle her in comfortably.
Thanks again xx

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Mollycat » Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:23 am

I have often thought about this kind of thing in terms of if we could move to a house with a garden with a very timid cat, at what point would I have to turn it down due to the potential stress, bearing in mind the time it took her to settle in when I adopted her.

As above - one room set up with some of the old carpet laid on top of the new one and all our dirty clothes and bed linen for a maximum of familiar scents and all home comforts - probably the bedroom so that we would be there with her at night. Then move everything else. The drive might be the least stressful part of the whole operation. At 20 years old and frail but not ill, I guess you have to try but don't want her last weeks or months to be stressful in a new environment.

My ex moved a 21 year old cat from a 3 bedroom house with garden to a single room in a shared house with a dog, the cat is perfectly happy and thriving now two years later, she met the dog which has now moved out and she is free to wander about the house and even goes out into the garden sometimes. You could be worrying over nothing, I hope so.

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by susand » Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:37 pm

I have had several long distance moves and hv found;

1. The cats get stressed when the house is being cleared in readiness for the move, especially on the day of the move when all the furniture starts disappearing out the door. On the day of the move, lock them in one room so they aren’t over exposed to the chaos occurring in the rest of the house. Putting them in their cat carrier in the car, parked in a quiet spot, is an alternative, or ideally locked in a room in a neighbour’s house if you have a friendly neighbour with a cat friendly house (ie no dogs etc). If you let kitty roam free during the packing up process you risk him disappearing off somewhere to hide (that happened to me. Three hour delay to set off time on a journey from Cambridge to Keswick because Mr Toes went AWOL and it took that long to find and eventually catch him, he was so spooked by the removal men!)

2. I tried tranquillisers once. Never again. Toes went sleepy but George collapsed completely and I thought I was going to have to give him CPR! Not good on move day, half an hour before set off time). Also, they wore off after about an hour, at which point the howling in the back of the car started, so it only relieved their stress for about a 5th of the journey time, so was hardly worth it.

3. Covering their cat carrier so they can’t see what is going on during the journey, with a thin sheet so they can still breathe and don’t get too hot, really helps. Toes would freak out at all the traffic hurtling past on the motorway and learning the ‘sheet over carrier’ technique for cat transport made all the difference. Putting a familiar (unwashed) blanket,toy or piece of your clothing in the carrier is also a good idea).

4. Don’t, for any reason, open the cat carrier during the journey. The number of cats that have been lost at service stations is tragic. In my experience, they won’t eat or drink anyway, as they’ll be too stressed. Accidents, if they occur, can be cleaned up once you’ve reached your destination. Just hold your nose if he creates a pong! Mine did that once, through fear when a big lorry went past us, before I learned the ‘cover the cat carrier technique’. Not pleasant.

5.Once at the new house: I never trust removal men with keeping a cat in, and there is a risk of losing him if he gets out in an unfamiliar location, so I’ve always left mine in the car, again, parked in a quiet location, until the removal men have gone.

All cats are different but this is the ‘long distance move strategy’ that has worked best for me and mine, tried and tested by trial and error. Hope it helps.


PS. I once invested in a large dog crate so they had space to move around during a particularly long journey. Waste of money. They just sat huddled in one corner of it the entire time and didn’t move an inch. Just thought I’d mention it, in case you thought of doing the same.

PPS. If you decide on leaving your cat in the car while the removal men are about, remember to consider parking in a shady spot with a window ajar if it is summer, so kitty doesn’t end up succumbing to heat stroke.

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Ruth B » Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:46 pm

I can only back up what others have said. Plan on taking her with you, if medical reasons mean she has to go to sleep before hand you will know it was purely due to the medical cause, not due to any other reason. I have an elderly cat who is about 17 or 18 years old and is skin and bone, and has been for about the last 2 years, she also has a recurring respiratory and ear problem and every so often something happens and I think it will be the end, then she picks up and carries on. We have decided we aren't having more tests done we will just treat the symptoms for as long as she seems to keep recovering.

I also brought my Mothers elderly cat to live with me when my Mother had to move into a nursing home. Stroppy, her cat, was arthritic, almost blind, and all skin and bones as well. She made the 90 mile journey without any problem and settled into my lounge quickly enough, though she never fully integrated with my resident cats. My Mother died 4 months after moving into the home, Stroppy managed another 4 months with me, before I decided Stroppy's health had deteriorated and it was time to reunite them.

A couple of bits of advise from my experience.

Can you set up a room at the old house for her with litter tray, bed, food, water etc so she can be confined somewhere she feels safe while you are packing and the removal people are there. Hopefully then you can take everything from that room and set it up in the new house quickly and have her shut in with familiar items as soon as she gets to the new house. Unless it is really cold and miserable, I wouldn't advise leaving her in the car for any time after you get to the new house. Even leaving her in the carrier in the new house would be better, cars heat up very quickly.

I have to agree that you will have to be careful whenever you stop, losing her at a service station would be horrendous. While it might not be as pleasant for you, take a flask and sandwiches, and don't plan on stopping for anything but the toilet, assuming there are two of you, make sure that one person stays in the car with her at all times. In the event of accidents, my advice would be to have a second carrier prepared, get the two carriers together side by side on the back seat with you squashed on there as well, and with all the doors and windows firmly shut, move her from one carrier to the other, fasten it shut quickly, then dump all the messy bedding in a black bag to deal with later. If you don't already have them top opening carriers are far easier for this then front opening ones, even so it might require a bit of contorting on your part to make the exchange with the doors shut. If there are more than two of you you might want to look at other transport options for some of the family.

As soon as you get there, get her room ready first thing, before you even find the kettle and put it on, make sure all the windows are firmly fastened shut and the door fully snecks shut, you don't want her managing to escape during the upheaval. As mentioned previously, if in doubt invest in a dog crate for the first few hours, she may not like it, but it is better than her coming to harm.

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by JulieJulie » Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:19 pm

Aww nice to see others with old girls who are soldering on.

One thing I found useful for vet trips was to layer the bottom of the carrier to prepare for the inevitable accident. So for example, a puppy pad, then a towel, then another puppy pad and so on. And don't feed them on the morning of the move. You don't want your cat sitting in their own wee and poo for the journey - done that to the vet and both mum and kitten needed a bath.
Pull over where safe, climb into back of car, doors locked, open cage (guessing your cat isn't lively) and just remove the top layer, leaving the next layer ready. Place in carrier bag and get rid once cage firmly closed.

I'm not sure why you would put a cat to sleep just in case she died on the journey - at least give her the chance.

Some great tips here. I want to move next year too! I was thinking of the crate idea but that doesn't sound like a goer...

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Sandra b
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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Sandra b » Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:22 pm

First of all my cat is 17 and I couldn’t imagine moving him from his home...so I just wouldn’t move! I also cannot believe your husband suggested putting your cat to sleep...that’s very sad. I refuse to decorate because I don’t want to upset my boy but that’s just me, I know everyone is different. Plug in feliway diffusers in all rooms in your new home and take plenty of old smells with you. Maybe at 20 the journey will be spent snoozing! Good luck

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Jan » Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:22 pm

Sandra... you are a ;lady after my own heart! What you have written about not wanting to even decorate let alone move homes sounds just like me

We moved my mother's cat some years ago back to our own house 165 miles away after my mother had to go into a care home. We ended up at the local clinic where the vet told us Blackie would probably not have been alive the next morning because he was so stressed he couldn't pass any urine. I was ignorant of what was happening to him and for ages afterwards I woke up in a cold sweat realising how close we came to losing him. (I don't know how I would have faced my mother when she asked about Blackie - as she did constantly. So back we came to my mother's house where he had lived for 10 years. Apart from anything else, the house is at the end of a quiet cul de sac - husband calls it "cat heaven" :D

We are still in my late mother's house -and this will be where we'll stay until Blackie goes to Rainbow Bridge. Another coincidence ... our boy is also 17.

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Sandra b » Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:29 pm

Jan....I thought it was just me that didn’t decorate because of my boy :lol: seems I am not alone! Glad to hear Blackie was okay after his ordeal and is now 17...yes coincidence same age as Murphy. By the way I also don’t hoover if he’s lying at the fire! You must think I live in a hovel but I really don’t...it’s just a cat friendly home :D

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by fjm » Thu Jul 23, 2020 6:45 pm

My bed rarely gets made - by the time I get to it there is always a cat curled up blissfully asleep and I don't have the heart to boot them off!

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Ruth B » Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:16 am

My bathroom is gorgeous, it was redone at the start of the year into a wet room with heated flooring, (the cats have yet to really discover that bit). When some of the taps aren't working properly, the toilet cistern needed replacing and the shower had already had to be replaced I decided needs must and had it done with the cats shut in the bedroom during the day. The plumber was extremely good about rehanging the door each evening so it could be shut to keep them out, and when it got to the point that the door couldn't go back on making sure there were no holes for inquisitive cats to get into. As for the rest of the house, most rooms need redecorating, the bed rarely gets made properly, but the bedspread is always pulled up during the day to protect the duvet a little, hoovering gets done when it isn't raining as I don't want the cats hiding down the bottom of the garden in the rain, and there are a couple of rugs down in the bedroom to cover the bits of the carpet that are going rather thin, as for the kitchen I daren't start to describe it. I guess in the end we are all the same, the cats come before decorating.

Never get a cat if you are house proud.

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Re: Moving 180miles with an elderly cat? Help!

Post by Mollycat » Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:50 am

Love this Ruth, I'm embarrassed to admit some things but hey I'm safe behind a screen ...

I probably vacuum once a month, I make sure Molly is safe in her hiding place before turning it on, and if she's upset or nervous I leave it for another day. Molly had 'her' chair and Boo had 'his' chair in the living room, leaving all humans to share one 3 seater sofa, until Molly abandoned hers aftr Boo used it a couple of times. It's since been re-upholstered and gone in the bedroom, where it was used to put things like washing or spare bedding waiting to be put away. Then one day she reclaimed it, with the spare duvet on it. So the spare duvet stays there, and I will buy another one to go on the spare bed. She also has one wardrobe door left permanently open and her very own shelf, which she uses for 10 minutes every evening leaping from the bed to look snootily down on us and then leave. There are 3 shared water bowls and her own water fountain, but also a glass of water permanently on the table for her. Sometimes she lies near my feet catching the sun and I will not move at all, not even for coffee or the toilet. Her food is in the hallway and I can be stuck on the toilet for 10 minutes if she is eating.

I hadn't had her very long when one evening she took fright at something under the sofa. I spent the whole evening upending it, cleaning, showing her it was safe, spraying it with catnip, letter her inside the bottom of it, until she was satisfied there was nothing there.

My ex long ago slept on the sofa for 2 nights because my very poorly cat had set up camp on his pillow, she was 2 nights in hospital and when she came back I slept on the sofa with her for the next 4 nights, then knowing how exhausted I was he made me go to bed while he stayed up with her the last night of her life.

At least we're all crazy together!

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