One of Our Cats Keeps Going Back to Our Old House

by Janice
(Wasdale, England)

We have just moved to another house only half a mile away. It is a very rural district with only fields, woods and a river between the two houses.

One of our 5 year old neutered tom cats keeps returning to the old house at night. He has done this three times and stayed at the new house about the same number of nights. Will he eventually get used to his new home or are there things we should be doing to prevent him returning?

At the moment, we still have access to the old house and have left the cat flap open. Should we close the cat flap?

Reply from Liz (Editor): I've come across this cat behavior before. In all cases, it did resolve itself in time, but there are a few things you can do that may help to speed the process up.

I think closing the cat flap at the old house is a good idea, he may be less inclined to go over there if he knows he can't get inside.

It may be worth keeping him in at night for a couple of weeks, so he really gets used to the new house and realizes it's now "home." I'd normally recommend keeping cats indoors full-time for 2 weeks when they move home, but as he's already been out that probably won't work, though it may be worth a try.

You could use things in the new house to make him feel more at home - e.g. catnip or a Feliway diffuser and / or spray. Also feeding him in the evening (or giving him a treat in the evening) should help to get him to return - and you can then keep him in overnight if necessary.

Lots of extra love and reassurance would definitely help at this time too, it can be unsettling for cats when they move (they are real creatures of habit and many cats get a bit out of sorts for a while when their routine or environment changes).

It sounds like he's a bit confused at the moment but I think doing some, or all of the things above will help him settle down and hopefully stop him wandering.

Best of luck and thank you for your question.

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