Crate Training for Cats
Veterinarian Reviewed on May 14, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Dogs are not the only household pets that can benefit from crate training. Cats can be crate trained as well!
However, the main difference is that cats should have free access to their crates rather than being enclosed in their crates for long periods of time like dogs usually are. This basically means that a cat will be able to quickly learn that his or her crate or carrier is their own, safe haven to where it can retreat to when things in the household are too stressful for the cat or kitten to handle.
A crate can be any type of fiberglass or plastic pet carrier that usually is able to be broken down into three parts: top, bottom, and door, for easy cleaning and maintenance. Cats need a crate that is big enough to fit their litter box, bedding, and their food and water bowls.
The advantage for cat owners to use a carrier for their cat’s crate is that the owner can close the door of the carrier with the cat inside and move the carrier to another room if necessary. This helps immensely when there are visitors who are allergic to cats.
There are three basic cat priorities that warrant free access crate training for cats:
Establish and protect the territory
Find food and water
There are five major benefits that cats experience when they accept their crates as their personal space:
1. Cats will view the rest of the home, outside of their crate, as neutral territory which will then reduce their need to protect it.
2. Since the cat will not think that the rest of the house is part of their own personal territory, they will not be territorial if another cat should be brought into the household.
3. The cat will quickly perceive the crate as his or her ‘home’ within the home and as such, his ‘home’ will go with him wherever he goes, such as to the vet, or moving house.
4. Because they are crate trained, these cats will be better equipped to deal with emergencies that force both them and their owners from the home, such as a natural disaster. Being crate trained will also allow the cat to stay with its owner in an emergency shelter, as long as pets are allowed of course. And if they are not allowed, then the cat will feel secure in his homely crate wherever he may be.
5. Being crate trained allows cats to have their own getaway where they can relax and get away from any screaming children or barking dogs.
Crate training kittens will prove much easier than crate training an adult or senior cat. Kittens are very curious by nature and will explore any space that has soft bedding, water and food. Soon enough the kitten will feel quite comfortable coming and going from their crate.
Early experiences will forever be entrenched in a kitten’s mind, so crate training them will stand them in good stead for the years to come. Also, kittens develop a sense of how much personal space they really feel that they need to feel comfortable and this may become more difficult to alter as they get older. Therefore, giving a kitten free access to a crate, it will quickly be seen as the cats own personal space and will free the cat from carving out their own niche in any environment in which they find themselves.
If you have an Adult cat that associates their carrier with veterinary trips, you will need to be more patient in crate training them effectively. Try by first placing your cat’s favorite blanket or toy inside the carrier.
If this doesn’t work, you can try breaking the carrier down and allow your cat to become accustomed to each part of the carrier one side at a time. Place your cat’s food and water dish on the bottom of the carrier and once your cat has become used to eating and drinking there, you can add a side to the carrier and then the top and door. Make sure that your cat is given a lot of praise whenever he is or around the carrier.
Crate training cats has the added benefit of helping to curb or eliminate any unwanted spaying or improper eliminating as the cat gets older. For this reason it is important to remember that preventing problems with cats is always easier and less expensive than actually trying to treating them.
Photo Credit: JoshBerglund19
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan