Crate training your cat might seem like an odd concept. After all, unlike puppies, cats are wizards for being able to use the bathroom where they should after the first few introductions to the litter box.
And since cats are less destructive, they can also usually be left unattended in the home without their owners for several hours at a time. So when does crate training come in handy, and how do you get them used to confinement? We’re going to go over all of that in this article.
The 7 Tips for Crate Training a Cat
1. Let Your Cat Sniff Around
Before you try to place your cat inside any enclosure, it’s best to let them get a little acclimated with it first. Open up the door of the kennel, crate, or carrier. Let them sniff around! If they climb inside, this is a great sign! It might go a lot smoother than you think.
Naturally, you won’t want to slam the door shut and make them stay inside if they enter. You’ll want to really warm them up to the idea first. If you create a bad experience when introducing the crate, they might always associate it with negative things.
2. Use Treats to Incentivize
Once they have shown interest in the carrier, it’s time to give them a little motivation. Drop a few treats inside and let them go scout them out. Once they are inside, you can drop a few more in to get them comfortable.
You don’t have to shut the door at this time. As with the above statement, shutting the gate the first time inside might give them some anxiety and make it harder to get them in the carrier in the future.
3. Use Positive Language
Use positive language when your cat is in the carrier. Keep a high-pitched voice that is very reassuring. Try to use only one word to relate to the carrier itself. You could use a word like “house” or “crate” so they can always relate the word with the placement.
Never make the crate seem like a punishment. It would be best if you never put your cat in a crate when they have done something that you don’t like. If they begin to associate the crate with punishment, it can create a fear-based relationship with the experience itself. That could make persuading them to go into the crate significantly harder for other reasons.
4. Close the Door
After they’ve been in and out a few times on their own, you can then try to close the door. You can still drop treats from an opening while cheering them on. You don’t have to leave them in there for long intervals of time. Close the door for a few minutes and open it again to free them.
5. Make the Cage Cozy
Make the cage a warm and inviting place to be. Put a comfy bed in, their favorite blanket, a few toys, and some snacks! Whatever it takes to make them associate the cage with some quiet and desired alone time opposed to isolation and punishment.
6. Monitor While Home
Before you try to take them on a trip or leave them alone, monitor them in the cage while you’re home. Leave them in there for 5 to 10 minutes with you in the room. You can let them out and try again on your chosen time schedule.
Keep in mind that every cat will be different. Some of them won’t mind being in the crate for a bit, while others will cry to get out. So keep in mind that each one will acclimate differently.
7. Start with Small Trips
When your cat is somewhere unfamiliar—whether it’s in the car or the vet’s office—they might not be entirely comfortable. So it’s always best to take them out before going to scary places. You could take them on short trips to a park or just on an outing if you have to run errands.
This way, you aren’t dropping them off anywhere, getting any painful shots, or putting them around other unfamiliar animals. Once you introduce them to the concept of going out of the house in their crate or carrier, visiting the vet’s office will be a lot less scary.
Why You Should Crate Train Your Cat
Crate training your cat comes in handy for a variety of reasons. Some of which include:
Unlike dogs, cats typically don’t have to be created when you’re gone for long hours working. They are more than capable of using the bathroom where they are supposed to and not chewing up all of your things. However, there are times when they do need to be confined.
If they are already used to the crate, it can alleviate many anxieties associated with confinement.
The 3 Types of Crates for Cats
There are several different kinds of crates and kennels for cats. Here are the most common ones.
1. Wire Kennels
Wire kennels can be used for cats or dogs. They generally have a bottom tray and latched doors. Some of them only have one door facing to the front, while other ones have multiple entry points. You can keep a litter box and other goodies inside if you get a large enough kennel. These crates are generally used for indoor retention and not for travel.
If you want something that will keep your pal busy for a while, they even make multiple-tier cat towers that keep your kitty safe inside. You can furnish it with hammocks and beds, scratching posts, and other activities.
2. Plastic Crates
Plastic crates are most generally used for travel, but you can use them in the home for small intervals as well. These types of crates usually have two plastic pieces that fit together with a top handle. For most smaller carriers, there is a door in the front.
But others might have the option of multiple entry and exit points for easy access. Typically plastic crates are large enough to fit your cat but only provide a little additional space. These types of crates generally have less visibility than wire kennels.
3. Mesh Carrier
Mesh carriers are used for travel and not much else. Sometimes these carriers can have extensions to give your cat a little more space during travel time. You might also see features such as large mesh windows that you can cover if you need to give your cat more privacy.
Since these carriers are generally designed for travel, some also might have features like seat belt attachments to keep them safe in the car. Since they are made of mesh and fabric, they are not strong enough for extended use.
Long-Term Confined Spaces
If you want something that gives you the freedom to leave your house for long periods while your cats are entirely safe, there are several ideas. As we mentioned above, you can buy a multi-tier cat kennel for indoor use.
However, if you want them to have a more natural option, you can also build your cat a sanctuary or catio at your home. This idea might not work for apartments or rental spaces, but it can be an excellent option for homeowners.
You can build a substantial cat sanctuary off of a window. Many options to create this space can be hard to do on your own. DIY options on sites like Pinterest will give you step-by-step processes to create an outdoor space that your cat can enjoy.
These enclosures must be completely secure, and you should have adequate shelter to keep your cat out of the elements.
So, now you know how to warm your cat up to the idea of staying in a crate for a while. If you plan on leaving your cat in their crate for long periods, we recommend getting a multi-tier cat kennel and giving them plenty of things to do while in confinement!
If your cat really enjoys being outside, you can even build them their very own catio to freely allow them access to inside and out.
Featured Image Credit: Okssi, Shutterstock