Tips on How to Crate Train a Cat

Crate training a cat is a gradual process. Simply pushing the cat into the crate and then shutting the door is a recipe for disaster. Odds are good that the cat won’t willingly enter the crate for a long time, if ever.

Instead, take your time and make the crate a place your cat wants to hang out in. Make sure to purchase a crate that is large enough for the cat to stretch out comfortably to sleep and with ample room for a litterbox. Put a bed or blankets inside so Kitty can make herself at home.

Crate Introduction

Bring the crate home and set it up in a corner of your home. Leave the door open and let Kitty make the first move. She may want to explore it right away, or perhaps she’ll ignore it. If possible, place the crate near the cat’s feeding area. This location may make the cat more accepting of the crate.

Food Rewards

Food is the best motivator when trying to crate train your cat. Start by placing the cat’s normal meal in the crate and leave the door open. Most cats will eventually go into the crate to eat their food. Some cats may go in right away, while more naturally suspicious felines will take their time. As long as they can come and go, at least initially, food or treats should have them entering the crate.

Use Pheromones

Pheromones are species-specific chemical communication. Human pheromones will not work for cats, and neither will those designed for dogs. A feline calming pheromone reduces stress. Sprays and wipes containing feline pheromones are very safe.

By spraying a product such as Feliway around the crate, you are letting Kitty know that this is a safe space. These chemicals are colorless and odorless, so you won’t know they are there. However, your cat will, and she’ll get the message.

Closing the Doors

Once your cat is spending some time in the crate either eating or resting, start closing the door for a short period when your pet is inside. At first, just close the door for a few minutes before opening it again. Close it for longer periods as the cat gets used to it.

If the cat begins meowing or scratching when the door closes, wait a little while before opening the door. Speak to the animal in a calm voice. While you do not want to stress your cat, you also want to ensure you aren’t teaching her that scratching and meowing gets the door open immediately. 

On Cue

As your cat learns to accept the crate, teach her to enter it on cue. This involves throwing some cat treats into the crate so she will go inside to eat them. Use a word such as “crate” as a cue word. Once she enters, shut the door, praise her and give her more treats. The goal is teaching your cat the cue word so she enters the crate when she hears it. Depending on the feline, you may or may not have to continue with the food rewards.

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