Cat Training: Can You Train Your Cat?
Cat training is something many cat owners don’t even consider. When it comes to training and obedience, there are many misconceptions floating around about our feline friends. One reason many people give for not liking cats as pets is that they can’t be trained like, say, a dog. That a cat is going to do what it’s going to do, and there is very little you can do to change it.
But the truth is that cat’s can be trained to do all sorts of things. You just have to know how to go about it.
Here are some things you should know about cat training.
How Do You Train Cats?
Yes, cats can be trained. The catch is that they must be trained on “their terms.” Before you can train them, you have to understand them and what makes them tick. It’s true that cats are very independent creatures. They certainly have their own ideas about things. If you try to train them to do something that is completely against their nature, your chances of success won’t be all that high. However, if you understand the nature of your cat, you can tailor your training regimen and increase your chances of success.
For example, take the litter box. Cats are fastidious creatures. They love a relatively clean place to do their business. But if you maybe forget to scoop out their litter box every once in a while, you shouldn’t be surprised if the cat decides to do their business elsewhere, no matter how well you’ve trained them.
And what about scratching? Scratching is as natural to a cat as breathing. Trying to get them to stop is something of a pointless exercise. So, instead of trying to train them to stop scratching altogether, you should train them to stop scratching the furniture and scratch something else instead. Like the brand new scratching post you just bought for them.
Make doing what you don’t want them to do less attractive to your cat than doing something else. For example, your cat might enjoy scratching the sofa. But they might enjoy scratching that awesome scratching post even better. Especially scratching the sofa means getting squirted with a water bottle.
What Are Effective Techniques for Training your Cat?
Cat’s can be trained. But training a cat can be different from training a dog or other pet, so you must learn which techniques will work best on a cat.
One thing that often doesn’t work is yelling or hitting. If you yell at your cat for doing something bad, they won’t necessarily connect your yelling with the behavior that caused it. Instead, in many cases, they will just end up being afraid of you, which isn’t what you’re going for. A reward system often works better. When you give the cat treats, toys or affection for doing something good, they will want to do more of it.
If you feel you really must punish your cat for their bad behavior, spraying them with a water bottle is a much better option than yelling at them or hitting him. Just fill a clean squirt bottle (you can probably buy one for as little as a dollar at a department store) with water. Then, every time you catch your cat doing something bad, give them a squirt from the bottle. Cats really don’t like it and, before long, they will begin to associate doing the bad thing with getting squirted.
But even if you decide to use the spray bottle technique, it’s important to keep on rewarding your cat for good behavior.
One great cat training technique is a clicker. Like many animals, cats respond to loud noises. So using a clicker is a quick and easy way to get their attention. So, when your cat does something good, hit the clicker to get their attention, and then give them a treat. Before long, your cat will associate the good behavior with the reward. The only downside is that you have to repeat this cycle of clicking and reward repeatedly in order to build up the association. Doing it every once in a while just isn’t as effective.
What Can You Train a Cat to Do?
Okay, so we know that, popular wisdom to the contrary, cats can be trained. But exactly what can you train a cat to do?
The truth is that a cat can be taught to do just about anything. The trick is making it so that they want to do what you are trying to teach them to do. You do this by giving them plenty of positive reinforcement in the form of treats and affection.
For example, say that you want to teach your cat to obey simple commands, like “sit,” “come,” and “stay.” A clicker is great for this type of training. If you’re trying to teach your cat to sit on command, start by teaching your cat to associate sitting with a treat. Sit somewhere quiet with your cat. Wave a treat over their head while saying, “Sit.”
As soon as they sit, click the clicker and give them a treat. You might also want to pat and hug them to. Do this over and over again and, after a while, you won’t need the clicker anymore. Your cat will just instinctively sit when you tell them to sit.
Training a cat to walk on a leash will probably appeal to most cat owners. And it’s a gradual process. First, right at meal time, put on their harness and leash. After they eat, leave the harness on so they can get accustomed to it. After about a week of just letting your cat get use to the harness, you can start walking them around the house on the leash. And, after they’ve gotten used to that, you can finally take them on walks outdoors. Start with short walks at first, and then build up. After a while, walking on a leash will be second nature to your cat.
Cat training isn’t impossible. In fact, once you understand what makes your cat tick, and familiarize yourself with the most effective training techniques, there’s almost no limit to what you can train your cat to do.