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How Long Can My Cat Stay in Their Crate? Vet Reviewed Safety Guide

Vet approved

	Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cat fanatics know all too well that their beloved furballs can become real monsters at night and wreak havoc in the house. This makes the idea of putting them in a crate quite tempting.

However, you should be aware that keeping a cat in a crate for long periods can be detrimental to their well-being. When you really need to confine your kitty, make sure it’s only for their welfare or been recommended by your veterinarian. Unlike dogs, crate training is not considered appropriate for cats.

Read on to find out what vets and feline experts say about cats and crates, along with a few tips for getting your fur baby used to their crate.

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When Should You Put Your Cat in a Crate?

There are several situations where it may be preferable or even necessary to crate your cat:

  • To keep your new kitten safe
  • Kittens sometimes need help avoiding dangerous situations, especially when left unattended.
  • During a visit to the vet
  • If your cat has received medical attention, is ill, or is recovering from surgery
  • In these cases, your veterinarian may advise you to confine your pet to a crate to allow them to recover properly.
  • To avoid conflicts with other pets
  • When traveling by car or plane
kitten in crate
Image Credit: Evgeniya Tomashevskaya, Shutterstock

Why Cats Shouldn’t Stay in Their Crates for Extended Periods

Since felines are ferocious predators trapped in tiny bodies (or so they think!), they need space to do their cat stuff, like jumping, stretching their paws, exploring their surroundings, and hunting invisible prey. This is why keeping a mischievous and active kitty in a crate for an extended period can lead to fear, frustration, boredom, stress, and anxiety.

Some cats may even show signs of distress when confined for too long, such as:

  • Intense vocalization
  • Pacing
  • Urinating/Defecating
  • Trying to escape
  • Salivating
  • Rapid continuous movement

Cats need daily exercise, interaction, and attention to thrive and be healthy. Confining your cat to their crate for more than a short period is therefore likely to harm their physical and emotional well-being. That’s why it’s essential to teach your feline friend to view their crate as a safe, warm, and cozy haven.

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Crate Training Tips for Cats

tortoiseshell cat stepping out of the carrier
Image Credit: alenka2194, Shutterstock

With patience and positive reinforcement, your cat can learn to enjoy—or at least tolerate—being in their crate.

The following tips should help:
  • The earlier you start, the better. Kittens shouldn’t have too much trouble getting used to being in a crate for short periods.
  • Ensure that the crate is large enough for your feline companion to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, with access to food, water, and a litter box.
  • For airline travel,  check with airlines, as they have specific requirements for travel crates.
  • Pick a crate that is easy to take apart, and has multiple enty methods, to allow easy entry and exit for your cat.
  • Make the crate a pleasant place for your cat. Place toys and a cozy blanket in it, and keep it in a quiet place in your home.
  • Give your cat treats and praise every time they enter their crate.
  • Be patient and watch your pet’s reactions. Forcing your cat to stay in their cage will only make them more fearful and stressed.

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Bottom Line

It may be appropriate to use a crate to transport your cat or for short-term confinement. However, your pet may become anxious and stressed when left in their crate for more than this. Remember that even though felines seem more independent than their canine counterparts, that’s no reason to leave them alone in their cage for extended periods.

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Featured Image Credit: SpeedKingz, Shutterstock