Can you train a cat? In fact, you can! I have a friend who has a cat who will walk on a leash and who plays fetch – both of those were learned/taught behaviors. How can you train your cat?
- You need patience
- You need to know what motivates the cat – treats, praise
- You need to set aside snippets of time, several times a day
Many cat parents are happy to let their cats play with their toys, sleep the day away and play with one another. Some cat parents, though, have cats in their homes who: Scratch the couch, attack one another, lie in places where you simply don’t want them to.
How Can A Cat Parent Train A Cat?
The first thing a cat parent needs to remember is: cats need to scratch. Scratching is not something your cat does to “get back at you” or “punish you” or to “be bad.” Cats scratch to remove dead skin from their pads and from the nails themselves. In the wild, cats scratch as a way to release their scent onto the object they’re scratching. If you have more than one cat in the house, the dominant cat will likely scratch something as a way to claim that object as his own.
Provide Your Cat A Way To Release His Need To Scratch
When you have cats in the house, you need to have scratching posts in the house. The scratching posts should be in different rooms of the house. Offer your cat a variety of scratching post materials, including:
- A carpeted vertical pole
- A horizontal corrugated cardboard scratcher
- Sisal rope wrapped pole
- Sandpaper coated pole or scratching pad
- An actual log of wood
The way cats scratch is as unique as the cat herself. Some cats like to scratch on vertical surfaces, others like horizontal. Some cats will shy away from sisal while others will only use sisal and still another cat only wants to use a vertical corrugated cardboard scratching post.
“Training” What To Scratch And What Not To Scratch
You’ve provided your cat with every type of scratching surface, horizonal, vertical and in various areas of the house, but he is still scratching the doorframe or the couch. What can you do!
Remember, cats will scratch their owners, too. If this happens you need to redirect that behavior toward your cat scratching on a post, not a person!
Redirect his behavior with catnip spray.
As a cat parent you may not care about training your cat to fetch or to walk on a leash, but you really want your cat to stop destroying the furniture. Just as you’d use positive reinforcement methods to train a dog, you will do the same for a cat.
When she’s scratching the couch, don’t clap your hands, holler at her or spray her or any other method that is negative and could potentially scare her. Instead, place a scratching post (or two) by the furniture she’s scratching. When she starts to scratch on the couch, gently move her paws to the scratching post. If she scratches the post when you do that praise her and offer her a high-quality treat.
If you’ve sprayed the scratching post with catnip spray, she will be more likely to want to scratch it. Repeat this positive redirection of the scratching behavior until she always goes for the scratching post. Eventually you can slowly move the scratching post away from the couch and into an area of the room that you prefer.
Don’t forget to clean the scratched area of the couch to remove the scent she’d been spreading when she was scratching.
What are other ways to use catnip oil spray?
- Keep spraying it on the scratching posts to keep your cats interested in them
- Refresh a much-loved catnip toy
- Use the catnip oil spray to attract the cat to the area you want her to sleep, for example. Get her out of the linen closet and onto the bed you’ve placed at the top of her cat tree.
- Catnip oil spray as an attractant can also be used as a way to get cats into an area where they are safer or away from dogs or puppies.
Remember, cats gotta scratch! Be patient and train them to scratch on appropriate surfaces – not your furniture or your house! – by using catnip spray to redirect her behavior.
Do your cats scratch the furniture? What have you done to train your cat to scratch appropriate items? If you need help or have great advice, we’d love to know! Share with us in the comments or on our Meowijuana Facebook page.