Cat Clinic of Cary Blog
Yes! You Can Crate Train Your Cat!
Animals have various self-defenses that leave us (not to mention possible predators) in awe. For cats, one of the most popular techniques for self preservation is their ability to hide – and hide well.
You may know this to be the case as soon as you bring out the good ol’ travel kennel, or crate, which is necessary for a safe trip in the car. Where did kitty go? Certainly not into the crate… But there is hope! Even if you think your feline is above it, you can crate train your cat, and we’ll tell you how.
You may have a big move on the horizon, a routine visit to see us, or just want to be prepared in the case of a disaster or emergency. Whatever the case may be, you want to make sure your feline friend willingly enters his or her crate.
Your cat may have negative or questionable memories associated with his or her crate. Fears of the car (and all of the unpredictable movements, vibrations, and sounds), other animals, or medical experiences can definitely overshadow your cat’s interest in crate training. The solution lies in creating and reinforcing new associations that intrigue, relax, and soothe your cat.
- Buy the right crate – The goal is to be make your cat feel safe inside his or her crate. To that end, you need to supply a crate that is the right size. Your cat should be able to stand up and turn around without any problems, but not much else.
- Leave off the top – Your cat may not immediately feel a need to run into a confining enclosure so, if your crate can be separated, detach and store the door and top half for now. Later, when your cat has adapted to the crate bottom, attach the top half to get your cat used to the feeling. Keep the door off until your cat is ready for it.
- Location – Keep the crate in a quiet space, but not in an area he or she rarely visits. Near a sunny window or an area regularly used for naps will contribute towards acceptance.
- Make it enticing – To create new crate experiences for your cat, place his or her favorite blankets or pillows inside the bottom portion of the crate. A relaxing den might have other preferred items like certain toys or treats.
- Reinforcement – If your cat is hiding from the crate, place treats nearby. If your cat shows an interest, create a treat trail leading up to and inside the crate. Feliway can be used on and around the crate, too, to relax your cat about entering the crate.
Crate Train Your Cat – The Next Steps
If your kitty remains aloof, move the crate to a different location. Perhaps somewhere up high (provided it is securely attached or weighted down) might do the trick to attract your discerning feline. Additional tips:
- Never force your cat into the crate; help him or her learn to enjoy the comforts of the crate
- Once your cat has adopted the bottom shell of the crate as the new snuggle spot, attach the top half and then the door over time
- Offer treats when your kitty enters the crate and stays there to hang out
- Do not disturb your sleeping cat once nestled inside the crate
- Over time, try integrating movement to and from your car, down the street, or just around the house
- Secure your cat’s crate inside your vehicle and start the engine
- Drive to see us for a brief visit to introduce your cat to a positive trip (no appointment necessary)
- Offer treats accordingly to reward your cat’s demonstrated acceptance of the crate
Crate training your cat really can be a good experience – for both of you. Sure, your kitten might be more amenable to learning this new routine, but your adult kitty can also pick it up. With time and patience, your cat will find his or her crate a cozy place to snooze, and transportation will soon be a breeze.