Choosing the Right Crate for Your Pet

Crates are essential gear for any pet, not just for cats and dogs, but also for ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits and other small pets. Whether you use the crate strictly for trips to the vet or groomers, need it for long distance travel or use it daily for housebreaking, feeding, nighttime or other training, you want to be sure you have the right crate for your pet's size and comfort. But with so many sizes and styles, not to mention different crate features, how do you know which is best for your pet's needs?

Size Matters

Size is one of the most important characteristics of your pet's crate. The crate should be the right size for your pet's mature size, allowing enough room for your pet to stretch out, turn around and lay down comfortably. If you will be using your crate for more extensive training, a larger crate may be a better choice, but some pets will be most comfortable in a cozy, den-like crate without too much extra space. If your pet has anxiety issues, a smaller crate could help them feel more secure, but for some pets, a small crate will just increase their fear or anxiety and may lead to injuries if they try to escape. Because of this, it is important to take your pet's personality into account when you are choosing the best crate size.

More Crate Considerations

In addition to size, there are several other factors you ought to consider when choosing the ideal crate for your pet. When examining different crate styles, consider…

  • Material: Pet crates can be made of metal wire, plastic mesh, cloth, canvas or similar materials. The choice of materials will affect the cost of the crate, how much it weighs and how durable it may be for your pet's activity.

  • Cleaning: Accidents will happen inside crates, and your pet will naturally shed, track dirt in or otherwise mess up their crate. If you feed your pet in the crate or use it for long periods, it will get especially dirty, and it should be easy for you to keep clean and sanitized.

  • Storage: You should select a crate that you can store appropriately so it is always ready for your pet to use. Some crates can fold down or be separated into pieces for easier storage, while others are more solid and cannot be compacted.

  • Durability: Your crate may take a lot of abuse, even if your pet does not chew or scratch on the crate. Note how sturdy the crate is, as well as how secure the closure, gate or locks may be in case your pet is an escape artist.

  • Ventilation: All crates should be properly ventilated so your pet has plenty of fresh air. Where you use the crate can also impact its ventilation – a smaller crate that will be tucked under an airline seat, for example, must have superb ventilation.

  • Comfort: Consider your pet's comfort when choosing a crate. The crate's base should be comfortably padded or able to support a blanket or pillow. Any noise the crate makes could upset your pet, and strong odors from the crate's material could distress a sensitive pet.

  • Other Regulations: If you plan to use your crate for a specific use, such as airline travel or taking your pet to shows, investigate any special restrictions on crate sizes, materials or features to be sure your crate will be appropriate.

  • Cost: Crate costs vary widely depending on manufacturer and retailer. Shopping around can help you find the best price, and you will want to choose the best crate your budget can afford. A better crate will last longer and be a better investment for your pet.

If you still aren't sure what crate may be best for your pet, consult with your veterinarian or your pet's breeder or groomer for suggestions and advice. The right crate can keep your pet safe, comfortable and secure, and you want to be sure to choose the best one you can.