Contrary to popular belief, you can train a cat! You can teach your cat useful behaviors such as coming to you when you call or staying calm in a carrier, as well as tricks like roll over and high five. Training your cat provides mental and physical stimulation as well as positive interaction between pet and owner. Here are some tips for training your cat.
- Cats are similar, but not exactly the same as dogs when it comes to training. Cats aren’t as likely to be motivated by verbal praise as dogs. Most cats will only respond to positive, reward-based training, so it is a good idea to have lots of treats on hand. Punishment and yelling are not effective or healthy methods for training cats, as these can create stress and cause a cat to start acting out. Cats are also less instinctively driven to work in partnership with their human companions than dogs.
- When beginning training, choose behaviors that already come naturally to your cat, like sitting or coming when called. Many times, training a cat to not do something, like biting or pulling on a leash, can be done by not provoking the behavior in the first place. If you do need to redirect bad behavior (like scratching furniture or biting) make a sharp, quick noise. It also helps if you say the same phrase every time, such as "Bam!" "Whoa!" or "Yow!" The point is to get your cat’s attention and distract her from the behavior. Avoid words that you use often, like "no!" or "hey!". This can confuse your cat if she hears it in a different context.
- Start small. Once your cat has mastered one trick, then move to the next. Teach only one command or trick at a time and limit your sessions to 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure you repeat the routine again the next day and continue on a regular basis so that your cat doesn’t forget what she’s learned. End your lessons with a play session fun using a toy, letting your cat carry it away in victory.
- Train in several different areas of your home. Once your cat has learned a command, such as not scratching furniture, practice it in different areas so she realizes it isn’t just specific to one room, such as the living room.
- Get others involved. Getting other members of your household involved helps socialize your cat, but most importantly, it helps build consistency and relationships.
Training is not only beneficial for your cat, but also for your own well-being. Having a well behaved cat builds confidence and reduces stress when it comes to traveling, grooming, or meeting new people. Plus, training is a fun way to enhance the bond between pet and owner. Just remember to stay calm and positive and you’ll have a better behaved cat in no time!