Training a cat takes a lot more time and patience than training a dog, but it can be beneficial to both the cat owner and the cat, so you definitely don’t want to skip this training. Not only will you bond with your cat while doing it, you’ll form valuable communication methods that you both understand.
In this post, we will show you how to train a cat – the easy way, and we’ll show you a few proven methods that work and that can enrich both you and your cat.
How to Train a Cat: Are You Sure?
Many people are under the mistaken impression that cats are too arrogant or moody to be trained. Although cats do have a tendency to ignore commands because they just don’t feel like doing it, more often they don’t obey because they don’t understand what’s being asked of them.
You do need to set reasonable expectation for yourself before you embark on training your cat. It’s not likely you’ll get your cat to do everything you ask, all the time. Remember that cats are motivated by reward, so always give a treat or praise in exchange for good behavior.
Along with a food reward, cat also take well to clicker training. All you need is a training clicker, which you click every time the cat performs as asked, followed always by a treat. The idea is that the cat begins to associate the click and the food reward with the proper behavior.
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When to Start Training a Cat
You should start training your cat when s/he is about eight to ten weeks old. This is a time in the cat’s life that they are developed enough to take direction and have grown out of some of their kitten-like antics.
If you have an older cat, don’t let that stop you from trying to train him/her. It may be a bit harder to teach him, but old cats can learn new tricks. You just have to be prepared for the possibility that he doesn’t take as well to the training.
Basics of Training a Cat
- Do not train your kitten for longer than ten minutes at a time. If he seems to be growing bored or frustrated, stop training.
- You should ideally hold two or three training sessions a day for a week.
- Once you are sure your kitten has truly grasped the meaning of the ‘Here Kitty’ command, you can start to teach her other commands, such as no or stay.
Where to Start
First, make sure you have a supply of your cat’s favorite treat and that she is feeling well rested and fairly happy. If there is a lot of noise and interference where you are, move to a quieter area, so your cat is not distracted.
1. Teach Your Cat to Come to You
It is best to begin by teaching your cat to come when she is called, just as you do with a puppy. Decide on one command and use it consistently. Commands should be short and easy to say. ‘Here kitty’ or ‘Come kitty’ are both good choices.
Get down on her level by sitting or kneeling on the floor and call her in an excited and happy manner, using the command. When your kitten comes to you, give her a treat and praise her lavishly.
Then, either wait for the kitten to move away or stand up and move to another part of the room. Repeat the command. Every time your cat successfully completes the task, reward her with a treat and lots of love. This is positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement with cats. If you punish them, they may hiss at you or attack you, so it is better to simply ignore wrong responses and lavish praise on your cat when he responds correctly.
2. Teach Your Cat to Tolerate a Harness or Leash
Every cat should learn to tolerate a harness and leash in case you need to travel long distances with him or take him to the veterinarian. For the same reason, he should learn to use a crate.
To teach your kitten to use a harness and leash, start by putting the harness on him. Once the harness is in place, do not restrain him in any way. Praise him lavishly and be sure to give him his favorite treat.
Once he is accustomed to the harness, attach the leash and let him lead you around a bit. Then, coax him into following you by offering more treats and praise. Although few cats actually learn to heel on the leash, your cat should learn not to panic and struggle when he is wearing his leash.
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3. Crate Training a Cat
Teaching your kitten to use a crate is a bit easier. Put a cozy blanket and a favorite toy in the crate. Praise him lavishly as you place him in the crate. Leave him inside for two or three minutes and then release him.
Do not make a big deal about letting him out of the crate, but always reward him for going in. Gradually extend the time you leave your kitten in the crate each time, until he is comfortable staying in his crate for an hour or two.
4. Teach Your Cat to Be Gentle
This is an especially important lesson if you have small children in the family who like to play with the cat. As we all know, cats can get aggressive at times, and they do occasionally bite or play hard. Oftentimes, you can stop your cat from being aggressive just by stopping whatever is riling up the cat, but other times, it’s not cause by you.
You can train your cat to be more gentle and not to bite your hands by using the command ‘gentle’ while allowing your cat to lick or nuzzle the back of your hand. If they do this gently, you reward them with a click and a treat. If they don’t, slowly pull your hand away along with the treat.
5. Train Your Cat to Get on the Mat & Stay
Is your cat constantly following you or hovering around your feet? That can be a problem sometimes when you need your cat to stay put somewhere else, like while you’re cooking in the kitchen, or if there’s someone at the door. For these times, you can train your cat to get on her mat and stay.
To do this, you need to have a mat that you will acclimate your cat to. This can be a small piece of fabric, an actual mat, or a small towel. Place the mat somewhere she’s allowed to go, like on her cat perch or on the sofa. Wait for your cat to step on the mat, then give a click and a treat. Move the mat and continue the training. She will eventually associate standing on the mat with a treat.
You can then introduce her to the ‘stay’ command. When she stays on the mat, give a click and a reward. Eventually you should be able to place the mat where you want your cat to go and stay.
6. Train Your Cat to Use the Toilet
Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to clean out the cat litter box every other day? What if it were possible to teach your cat to use the toilet? Well, it is possible, but it doesn’t come without its tribulations.
The process of toilet training a cat can be tedious and fraught with messes, but it is possible with perserverance. Start by setting the cat litter box next to the toilet. Then gradually raise up the box so the cat gets used to jumping up to use the box. Then gradually move the box over the top of the toilet. Then graduate to using a litter box that fits over the toilet. You see where this is going.
There are cat toilet training systems that you can purchase that will help you train your cat to use the toilet in 8 weeks. The training kit uses a disappearing litter box technique to train your cat. It fits on all toilets and transitions cats of all age, size, and breed from litter box to toilet.
Now you can see that it is possible to train a cat, if done in the right manner. It really comes down to being clear with a command that you use regularly and rewarding her with a treat when she does well. What will you teach your cat next?
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