I rehearsed loading the cat carriers and my luggage into the car to be sure I had the right strategy for fitting them all in, before I actually had reluctant cats in the carriers. One of them weighs 25 pounds, so flinging him around is not an option. Anything I do with him has to be very deliberate and planned out in advance.
The capture of cats used to a calm life did not go without incident. Four went quietly. But Alis, the youngest and normally the most prone to being meek, refused to follow suit. I had to chase her, and finally, we stood still, me on one side of a chair, her on the other. I said, very calmly, "Alis, you can't keep doing this forever. One way or another, you WILL be going. So we can make this easy or we can make it hard. You will walk past me slowly, stop, and let me pick you up. That's the way it's got to be." She thought about it, then she did it. Once she was captured and stuffed into the cat carrier, she was FURIOUS! Meek little Alis let out a bellow of rage like I've never heard from any cat!
Once they were all loaded, my car sounded like a cat factory, with every tone of cat voice from tiny high-pitched mews to deep rumbling murmurs and chortles. I closed all the windows so the neighbours didn't think I was operating in illegal cat-smuggling ring or something.
A final check that nothing had been left behind, and we were off. I planned my trip so I had food and water, and if I needed bathroom breaks, I only had to stop briefly, in shaded spots. We made it in record time. Good thing, too, because somebody had an accident and soiled his cat carrier, and none of us were very happy about it. After that, I got PUH-LENTY of complaints! But my car is so small, I can only open the carriers by opening the door, maybe even taking the carrier out, and letting a tame cat with no survival skills loose in the wild is not a risk I'm prepared to take. They weren't all comfortable, but they were safe, and assuming everything went according to plan, they'd be in thier new home in a few hours.
They all survived. I backed into my carport and opened the door to the house, then carried each carrier in and down the stairs. The cats have the run of the basement of my house, which is as big as the main floor, with a big TV room, a smaller room off of a second kitchen, a bathroom, and what was a bedroom that I use for storage and for litter boxes. There are two other rooms down there, but the cats only go in when I'm with them, for their own safety in the case of the workshop and utility room, or because of an off-white carpet in a guest room that would not do well if subjected to cat traffic for very long.
I'd set up the litter boxes in the "cat's room" ahead of time, then put all the carriers in that room, unlocked them and set them free. Lots of complaining about the poor service, the cramped quarters, and the lack of bathroom facilities in the Economy section.
I set up a pet gate at the bottom of the stairs, and my cats are not agile enough to jump or climb over it. One cat, Fritz, might have been at one time, and in fact, I think she still can. She chooses not to.
The books all say to keep your cats in one room at first, when they move to a new house, so they have time to get adjusted. Well, my cats don't read those books, and they insisted that if I was going in and out through that door, then they certainly could do the same. So I let them wander.
To my surprise, even though there was no furniture, they explored quite happily and were not the least bit nervous about being in a new space. The main room in the basement is 30 feet long, and they happily wandered around in it. I was entertained by the way their claws kept getting stuck in the carpet. They haven't lived with carpet for years and they've lost the knack of walking on it.
Over the next few days, I bought some patio chairs so I could sit with the cats and watch DVDs on my laptop (My furniture didn't arrive for another month. Long story...) and they got used to having more places to sleep. On the lounge chair, on the ottoman, under the chair, beside the chair.
That first day, Alis disappeared. I looked and looked and looked for her, called her, asked the other cats where she was. For hours. There was no furniture, no open doors, no nooks or crannies I didn't know about. Yet I found no trace. There's a space under the stairs I was worried about, with access either from a closet in the hallway, or form the guest room, and I even checked in there, but she wasn't there.
Finally, when it was time for their bedtime treat of canned cat food (one medium sized can among 5 cats), suddenly Alis appeared. I've never found out where she goes.
In a very short time, they seemed content. lonely and a bit bored maybe. I bought them a few toys, a couple of balls and a big duck chewtoy (I think it was meant for dogs, but Lillibet enjoyed it. He also wrestles with shoes and has been known to tussle with vegetables that find their way onto the floor. His unusual name should give you a clue that this cat is not exactly run of the mill).
So I left them in their new home for a few days to head back and continue packing up my old home in my parents' house.