My family is moving soon, and we plan to take our two cats with us. How can ensure minimal discomfort for them?
~Moving in Maine
You can ensure no discomfort by not moving! Kittehs hate change. And also, car trips. And also, it's a lot of work getting fur all over everything in the new house.
But if you must move, here are a few tips:
First and foremost, I recommend getting this spray called Feliway. It's got some kind of kitty hormones or pheromones or something in it that helps calm us down, and can be sprayed in the carriers, car and new house.
Get the kitty carrier(s) out a few days before the move, and leave it open for your kitteh to explore and become reacquainted with. Spray some Feliway in there too, and line it with a towel or blanket that smells like you. Try tossing some toys in there so your kittehs think it's a relaxing, cozy hideaway and not a death trap.
If possible, it's a good idea for you to go to the new house a day or two early and get a room ready for your kittehs--preferably a spare room that no one will need to bring any furniture or boxes into. You should put in a litter box, some food and water, and some things that smell like you (yarn?) and "home." They might also like something to hide in/under.
On moving day, spray the inside of the car as well as the carriers (or, in the case of my arch nemesis, Nelly, the two-laundry-baskets-taped-together-with-duct-tape) with Feliway. Before the movers arrive and things start getting scary, get your kittehs into their carriers/laundry baskets, take them to the new house and put them in their room (I'm pretty sure Kristen is going to put us in two different rooms, because she doesn't want to find that we've fought an epic battle to the death in her absence).
Then finish the moving process while your kittehs are out of the way--this way they won't panic and try to escape.
Once all the Big Scary Movers are gone and things are settling down, you can let them explore the rest of the house. They might hide for a bit, please don't try to drag them out, just let them be to get used to their new surroundings.
Also, remember that there might be a few accidents while your kittehs try to remember the new location of the litter box. Be patient!
Good luck with your move!
Look at that, seems like Dory was actually helpful for a change. I also recommend the Feliway spray to discourage scratching. I've used it to keep the cats from scratching up our new furniture with great success (CP recently dripped cement caulk and popcorn ceiling goop on the chair, making my efforts somewhat pointless, but there's no "make your husband a better handyman" spray, so what are you doing to do?).