If your cat could talk, would he or she expound on the virtues of the travel carrier, or, when asked about it, would you simply see your cat’s tail cut through a cloud of dust kicked up by speedy, get-a-way paws? You cat may absolutely hate the crate, but with a healthy combination of time, patience, and gentle persuasion, he or she can learn to appreciate it and may even want to hang out there.
The Crate Debate
Crate training your cat may seem downright impossible, especially if you’ve ever had to force your feline into his or her travel kennel in order to make a trip in the car. Driving to your favorite vet, groomer, or new home already produce heart-pounding anxiety in untrained cats, but if you crate train your feline, he or she will feel safe, secure, and both of you can enjoy the ride.
Added bonus: voluntarily, your crate trained cat will cozy up in the crate if an emergency forces you out of your home.
Recreate In The Crate
The goal is to make the crate a welcoming, enticing place that you know your cat will enjoy. The crate should be large enough (but not too big) for your cat to easily stand up, turn around, groom, and snooze in.
Our favorite crates have a removable top that you can leave off in the early days of crate training, and then add back on after your cat accepts his or her new “den”.
Line the bottom shell with soft blankets, consider a calming pheromone spray like Feliway, keep the door open or off, and add a catnip toy to intrigue your kitty.
Location, Location, Location
Find a spot in your home that’s off the beaten path, but one your cat will find. If it is on top of a surface, like a table or countertop, make sure it is stable and cannot tip over.
Your feline may have negative or stressful associations with the crate, which means that you will need to create new positive connections. We recommend that you:
- Go to the crate, call your cat, and place him or her inside to enjoy your attention or a reward
- Strategically place kibble or treats in a line leading to the crate
- Move your cat’s meals close to the crate, and then inside it after comfort levels increase
- Drop treats or new toys inside the crate to intrigue your cat between visits
- Don’t make your cat stay in the crate if he or she wants to leave
- Move the crate to a different location if your cat isn’t entering it on his or her own
- Once your cat goes into the crate regularly, close the door for short periods
- Try and pick up your cat while inside the crate and walk in and out of your house
- Over time, place your cat inside your car and start the engine
- After your cat has confidently endured your practice rounds, put the car in gear and drive around a bit
- Reward your cat with extra cuddles, accolades, and healthy treats
In addition to traveling confidently, crate training your cat provides a safe haven when you have guests over. Covering the top of the crate with dark towels or blankets will reduce stressful stimuli. Afterwards, don’t force your cat to leave the crate. Instead, simply leave the door open and invite him or her to play with you, go outside, or enjoy a meal.
Crate Training Your Cat
It may not happen overnight, but your cat can be trained to equate the crate with peaceful relaxation, security, and protection. Please let us know if you need any additional help crate training your cat, and good luck!