Why Cats Often Stop Eating After Moving to a New House

A question often posed to veterinarians and online forums is why cats seem to stop eating and drinking after moving into a new house. It can be very alarming when a cat appears to have settled into a new home but still won’t touch its food and water.

Here are a few reasons why this happens and tips for what you can do to overcome the problem as quickly as possible.


Many cats are terrified when placed in a new environment. None of the smells are the same, and the safe places that it knew about are now gone. It has no idea if there are new threats to its safety, so the cat simply closes itself off to everything while it tries to determine if it is safe in this new place.

Safe Place

Cats are different, but they will need time to get used to their new surroundings and find out that they are just as safe here as they were at the last house. You know your pet well and can guess if they will feel safer in one place or all over the new house.

Some cats benefit from time in just one room where they feel safe. Place their bed, litter tray, food and water in one room and leave the cat there with the door closed. Go in and spend time petting and reassuring the animal until they feel confident enough to venture out into the rest of the house.

Other cats will be more alarmed at being locked in one place. For these pets, make sure that the windows have secure screens or are securely fastened. Place food and water in the area where you intend to feed them and put down the litter tray as well. Allow the cat to wander around and investigate the new house.

Hiding Away

It is reasonable to expect the animal to find a place to hide, but do not allow it to sneak away for long periods of time. If it finds a place that is hidden away, the animal may develop a habit of hiding, and you will lose the friendly, lovable pet that you have enjoyed.


It is possible that the stress of a move allows a disease to develop, so if you suspect that this is not just moving stress but something else, then take the animal to a vet.

Tempt it to eat

Here, you can try different things.

  • Change the brand of cat food that you use.
  • Cats decide to taste something based mostly on smell, so food with a strong smell (pilchards or something similar) may elicit some form of response.
  • Also, try warming the food up. Most of us keep our cat food in the fridge, so place some on a saucer and try warming it for a few seconds. This will bring out the smell and may encourage the cat to eat.
  • Sprinkle the cat’s food with a treat or vitamin powder to tempt it.
  • Make sure that the cat’s dishes are kept clean, all scraps of leftover food are thrown away and the plates are washed.

Cats are not fans of change, and with a little care and attention, you can make a move to a new home as stress-free and comfortable as possible. Remember that unless the cat is seriously ill, it will start eating again.