Did you know we board and groom cats and other types of small and exotic animals? We have boarded a variety of animals other than dogs over the years, including guinea pigs, fish, birds, turtles and even a pot-bellied pig! Most of these animals come with their own cage or aquarium and they generally live in those while at home. Birds, bunnies, guinea pigs and other indoor pets can even come to prefer the safety of their cage to the vastness of life outside. Most cats, on the other hand, do not. At Misty Pines we hear stories all the time from people that have spent hours chasing their cats when the crate comes out and they end up late for their drop-off appointment for boarding. Of course they end up laughing it off and in the end the cat stays with us anyway, but what if your cat enjoyed going into his or her crate? What if your cat thought of their carrier as a safe place where they can relax? Because we have heard of so many cat owners dealing with issues relating to crate training, we have provided the article below to make getting your cat into their carrier an easier process.
Suzanne and Dan via the Behavior Education Network
We all know that if used properly, a crate can be a useful behavior management tool for dogs. But few people consider it important to crate train cats. To us, this is an unfortunate oversight. At the very least, most cats are transported to the veterinarian, groomer, and/or boarding kennel in a crate or similar carrier. Because this is the only time most cats are crated, the crate rapidly develops an unpleasant association.
There are other reasons to crate train cats. What about using a crate as a “calm-down” location for an overly excitable kitten? How about as a transition step in a cat-to-cat introduction? As a “time-out” location when one cat is attacking another cat in the family? Cats that are crate trained can even accompany their families on car-outings, and if leash trained can enjoy a Sunday picnic in the park. You can even use a large crate that could be put on your deck or backyard to give your cat some fresh-air time while keeping him safe.
Crate training procedures for cats are not much different than for dogs. However, if your cat already hides when the crate comes out, it will be a longer process because you must overcome the cat’s existing crate aversion. You may need to start by just leaving the crate sitting out for a while – make it a part of the furniture in your den. This will allow your cat to disassociate the crate with a trip to someplace he doesn’t want to go.
Next, make it worth it to your cat to enter the crate. If your cat likes catnip, put a catnip toy in the crate. Leave the door open so your cat can retrieve the toy and come out. Place irresistible tidbits in the crate several times a day to encourage your cat to enter. Because cats like hidey-holes (it’s why they like to crawl into boxes and bags), you may find your cat using the crate as a private resting spot.
Once your cat is no longer reluctant to enter the crate, place him in the crate with a tidbit and close the door for a minute or two. Practice carrying the crate around the house, and even putting it in the car and immediately bringing it back inside. Perfect your crate-carrying technique. Avoid swinging the crate or bumping it against your leg if possible. You want to give your cat a smooth ride, not one filled with pot-holes! Of course the next step would be to take your cat on car rides that don’t end at unpleasant destinations.
Because kittens are so curious and not afraid of new things, it’s likely easier to crate train a kitten as compared to an adult cat. But it’s never too late. Even if your cat never learns to love his crate, by using these procedures you can at least decrease his anxiety so that he can tolerate crating better.
Misty Pines hopes that this helps you and your cat have an easier time traveling, whether to the vet’s office, the groomer’s or to their secretly favorite boarding facility. We wish you all the best in training your cat to enjoy a crate and remember; you can use these tactics to help your cat acclimate to any situation.