How to Crate Train Your Cat

Cat lying in crate
It might be hard to believe, but it is possible to teach your cat to think of his crate as a personal getaway instead of a portable prison.

Teaching your cat to feel secure and comfortable in his crate can make it easier to entice him into it when you need to transport him somewhere, like the veterinarian's office. But your cat's crate can be useful for more than just taking him on the road; a crate can be a retreat for your cat in unfamiliar or stressful situations.

Unfortunately, many cats fear the crate or associate it with negative things. For these cats, a crate is more like a portable prison than a personal getaway. In fact, the mere sight of the crate can become a cue that something bad is likely to happen, which can lead to a feline freak out — and make getting your kitty into his crate nearly impossible.

The good news is that with just a little patience, most cats can be trained to love the crate. Here are my tips for making the crate your cat's happy place.

The Comfortable Crate

If you want your cat to love his crate, then you need to start with the right design. My favorite crates have removable tops and at least two exit points. This is important because one exit point may be easier to access than another, depending on how your cat is positioned in the crate when you get to your destination. A crates with a removable top also allows your veterinarian to examine your cat without removing him from the crate; this can reduce your cat's anxiety and make trips to the vet less stressful for him — and you.

Choosing the right crate is only the first step, though; you need to create a comfortable environment inside the crate. Make a soft nest with plush bedding or blankets with the cat’s familiar scent on the bottom of the crate, and consider spritzing Feliway, a pheromone spray, inside the crate to help calm your kitty.

When carrying the crate, lift it evenly on both sides, rather than grabbing it by the handle, and carry it gently, as if it were a breakable present. You may also want to cover the crate with a towel or blanket to reduce visual stimuli, which can be stressful for your cat.

Finally, be aware that forcibly pulling your cat out of his crate can scare him. Instead, open the door or remove the top and ignore the cat until he comes out on his own, or lure him out with food, petting and play.


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