Unlike dogs, cats aren’t exactly receptive to spending hours alone in a crate.
That’s okay, because they rarely ever need to be in one for extended amounts of time anyway. They do, however, need to learn how to handle a quick trip to the vet.
If you’re having trouble getting your feline to relax inside of her crate, try these tips out to make it a better experience for both of you.
Choose the Right Crate
The type of crate you use is essential in getting your cat to feel comfortable. Wire cages won’t do, since cats are easily stressed out by unfamiliar surroundings. You want your cat to feel safe in your crate, so aim for a hard-shelled option with doors on the front and on top and walls around them to block out the world. That way she has four walls keeping her secure but you can also remove her on your own if she won’t come out willingly. Also, make sure the crate is large enough for her to turn around but not so large that she can flop around during the trip. Cats often feel safe in smaller spaces.
Never use a cardboard box to transport your cat. Case in point.
Leave It Out
Allow your cat to get familiar with her crate by leaving it out in the open at all times. Place it in a room she frequents where it won’t be in the way but is still easily visible. If you keep it hidden away she’s going to immediately associate it with bad things each time you pop it out.
Make It Comfy
Cats can be divas and require comfort wherever they rest. Make sure to line the bottom of the crate with a blanket or bed that your cat will enjoy. Expecting her to sit on the hard plastic won’t end well, and it could also cause her to slide around during the trip.
Ease Her In
Rather than toss your cat into her crate, help ease her in on her own. To do this you’ll need to get crafty. Most cats are highly motivated by tasty food, so figure out your cat’s favorite treats and meals and use them to your advantage. Place them inside the crate and let her eat her dinner there. You can also try making a trail of treats that lead into the crate. Eventually she’ll associate the crate with good things and not just scary car rides.
Leave the Door Open
If you’re leaving the crate in the open at home like you should be, you’ll also want to leave the door open. This way she’ll be able to come and go in the crate as she pleases. This will help your cat feel less trapped inside the small confines of the crate and more at home.
Once she feels comfortable going in on her own and hanging out for a bit, then you can start practicing with closing her in. Shut the door for a few seconds to start, then reopen and let her leave if she wants. If she stays, you can increase the time you leave the door closed progressively over time. Eventually she’ll be fine with you closing her in for a long car ride.
Practice Road Trips
Cats are naturally terrified of road trips due to the inherit lack of control and shaky surroundings. Help get her used to going for a ride by taking short trips around the block with her once she’s warmed up to her crate. Start with a couple of minutes, then increase the time to twenty to thirty, depending on how far away the vet might be.
Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible.