Crate Training Your Cat
While crate training cats may seem counterintuitive to many, it is one of the smartest things you can do as a cat owner. Why? Simply put, a crate-trained cat is a cat that is ready for action. Whether that action is a trip to see your veterinarian, making a cross-town (or country) move with the family, or an emergency evacuation, having a cat that is comfortable with going into, and hanging out in, his or her crate is a plus.
Luckily, cats naturally love cozy, semi-enclosed spaces such as cardboard boxes, baskets, and other den-like areas. Even though this may seem hard, it really shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment. The goal is to accustom your cat to the idea of “the crate.” Simply, make it a safe and comfortable place that is part of daily life.
Crate Training Cats 101
If possible, we recommend that you start crate training your cat when they are still a kitten. If you are crate training an adult cat, the same general procedures apply, but may require a bit more patience on your part.
First, buy a crate roomy enough for your cat to stand up and turn around in easily. Then:
- Line the crate with a fluffy towel or cloth, first rubbing it on your kitty so it smells right.
- Place age-appropriate treats and toys in the open crate, and let your pet explore the wonderful new place.
Once your cat is in the crate, begin closing the door briefly, while praising him or her. Open the door, give your cat a treat and more praise, and allow him or her to stay or go. Increase the time the door is closed and start moving away, but always give praise and a treat afterwards. Placing interesting new toys or yummy wet food in the back of the crate from time to time is also a good way to encourage sustained cat-ly cooperation.
Once your cat is comfortable with the door closed, pick up the crate and carry it around, gradually increasing the time and distance the crate is carried, and always ending with a treat, praise, and an open door. If that goes without incident, carry the crate to the car and start the engine for a few minutes, then take crate and kitty back into the house, open the crate, and give a treat. Repeat. Eventually you should be able to drive to the vet’s and back without drama or yowling.
The process could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks and will require patience and resolve, but sooner or later even the most recalcitrant cats usually succumb to the delights of the ever interesting crate. Both you and your pet will be less stressed when going to the vet or on trips, and in an emergency you won’t be chasing a terrified cat around the house.
If your cat is extremely crate shy, you can also try spritzing the inside with Feliway, a pheromone spray that cats find attractive and soothing. To some felines, catnip-filled toys at the back of the crate may prove irresistible.
If you need more tips on crate-training or need to schedule an appointment, give us a call. We’re here to help.
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