While cats continue to be mysterious in many ways, we know at least three things to be true: 1) felines are creatures of habit; 2) they have finely-tuned senses; and 3) they absolutely detest travel crates. But what if there was a solution to the last one?
Crate training your cat may seem like an exercise in futility or pain (or both), but we can assure you the benefits far outweigh any challenges you might face during the process. Intrigued? We hope so!
A Shared Logic
Sure, your cat may view the crate as an insult against everything they value, but their perception will change with time, patience, and opportunity.
Many cat owners confess to not keeping up with scheduled wellness visits because it’s such a headache to get Fluffy into the crate. Your cat’s aversion is perfectly normal, but training will shift their association to something positive, relaxing, and worthwhile. That way, it’s easy to get them to our office for the medical care that’s so important to long-term health.
In addition to maintaining his or her wellness, crate training your cat also plays a major role in case of a fire, emergency, or evacuation. Plus, if you ever want to travel together, your cat must accept the crate. Short trips to the doctor, a friend’s house, or boarding facility are one thing, but many cat owners are hoping to spend longer periods of time away from home together.
Tips for Success
The dimensions of the crate must allow for:
- Your cat to stand up and turn around without trouble
- Nice blankets or pillows that inspire security and warmth
- Toys or treats
When it comes to crate training your cat, consider which part of your shared space is typically preferred. A warm, sunny spot where they usually rest is best. As long as the place is away from heavy foot traffic and noise (but not isolated), your cat will begin to see the crate as an attractive destination.
Crate Training Your Cat
It can take a while to convince your kitty. To encourage him or her, try the following:
- Detach the top half of the crate and remove the door
- Place favorite treats or toys on the snuggly bedding placed on the lower half
- Feliway can help calm nerves when sprayed in and around the crate
- Reward and praise your cat when they enter and stay in the crate
- Once your cat adopts the bottom half as their own, re-install the top half
- Leave the door off until your cat demonstrates that the crate is the number one comfort spot
- Do not disturb your cat when they’re relaxing inside the crate
- Over time, expose your cat to being moved while inside the crate (short drives can be part of your routine)
Crate training your cat won’t happen immediately, but if you’re really stuck, move the crate’s location and offer meals nearby or inside the crate. Remember, never force your cat inside.