Q: “Should I put my cat in a cage, the same way that dogs go in a cage? Is there ever a need for this?”
A: Cats value freedom. When you lock your cat up in a cage, it makes them stressed and anxious, as they feel very unsafe with no escape route. Cats are not fully domesticated — and in the wild, being locked up is equivalent to death! And so, this is very scary for them!
The difference between cat and dogs is that dogs are completely domesticated. While I’m sure that many dogs may not like being caged, it still provides a sense of safety and protection for them. Cats, still being strongly connected to their wild ancestors, do not have the same feelings of safety that dogs do.
Freedom is a necessity for cats, just like food and water. If they cannot roam free outside, they at least need the ability to roam freely around your home. Even confining a cat to one room in the house is very stressful and upsetting for them, let alone a small cage. In my apartment, I keep all doors opened at all times — otherwise they will claw and meow like crazy!
While most pets feel safer in confinement, cats feel most safe in total freedom. They need to know that they are the strongest predators in the vicinity. They need to know that there are no other animals around the area that will threaten them. And they need to know if there is any prey around like bugs or mice — so they can attack! Cats must know — it is instinctual.
What also makes cats different from other pets is that they are highly intelligent. While dogs may be very cute, they are certainly not nearly as smart as cats. Cats are deep thinkers — they think about what is around them, they wonder, they’re curious. When locked in a cage, the cat thinks “where is my escape when a predator comes and attacks?” Or, “how am I going to catch my prey if I’m stuck in here?”
A few exceptions…
While my answer is mainly “no,” there are still a few exceptions. There may be emergency cases in which a cat must be locked in a cage — sickness, aggression, or keeping them safe from another animal. Try to make this as temporary as possible and provide your cat with treats, toys, and catnip in order to minimize stress.
Another exception is if you have a kitten. Kittens are babies who need much more supervision and protection than an adult cat. When I first adopted my kitten, Luna, at only two months old, I kept her quarantined. When you first adopt a kitten, it is best to keep them in a separate room. This prevents overstimulation and overwhelm. It is especially necessary if you have another cat or pet too. Gradually, you give them a bit more freedom as time goes on, and they become more comfortable with their new home.
I bought a cage for Luna as a kitten. I would occasionally keep her in the cage as a way of gradually introducing her to my other cat, Venus. It also worked as a punishment for her when she was being extra mischievous. Even so, I would never keep her locked inside for too long, and I would always be right there — I’d never leave my home while she is locked in a cage.
Overall, you should not put your cat in a cage. However, it does not hurt to have a cage on hand in case of emergencies. And it may be useful for kittens.
My expertise comes from my animal science bachelor’s degree, as well as a lifelong experience of mothering many cats. For serious and life-threatening issues, please refer to your local vet.
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