An important question about cat training that many cat parents often ask is, whether it’s the same as training a dog? The answer to this question is yes and no.
Although cats are social creatures, they aren’t as social as dogs. They may seem to be aloof or uninterested in the training sessions because of their highly independent nature. Dogs were primarily domesticated to work with people, but cats were bred to kill vermin. They have evolved from wild cats to independent domesticated cats. They may be attention-seekers but they are not inclined to work for their owners’ praise and attention compared to dogs. This also means cats are not as easy to motivate. A combination of creativity, loads of patience, and really special treats is needed to get your furball interested in your training sessions.
Benefits of training your cat
Cat training should be based on a positive approach in which good or desired behavior is rewarded and undesirable ones are discouraged. There are several important benefits that a cat can reap with training. It can stimulate a cat physically and mentally, which helps keep him healthy. Training sessions are great times to bond with your furball. Spending time together can help strengthen the bond that you share. Training teaches your pet cat a wide range of useful and desirable behaviors, as well as fun tricks. When a cat is well-behaved, he becomes a desirable member of the family. It will also pave the way for positive interactions with everyone, humans, and pets alike.
Preparing for your cat’s training sessions
Before you start your furball’s training sessions, you should be realistic about your goals. List down what you’d like your kitty to learn, consider what commands you will use, including the desired behavior or actions. When you have this information, you will be able to identify what technique you will apply to achieve positive results. The most common training regimens for cats include the following:
- Litter training or house training
- Obedience commands -- come, stay, sit, roll over, high five, etc.
- Sitting still during grooming
- Eliminating biting issues
- No jumping on countertops
- Nail trimming
- Solving aggression between cats
- Riding in a car
- How to train your cat to stop urine marking
- How to stop cats from biting and scratching
- Crate or carrier training
With proper training and reinforcement, cats learn to behave in acceptable ways while becoming comfortable being around and interacting with humans and other pets. Cats with good manners are also able to create healthy and positive relationships with their pet parents.
Keep training sessions short
Sessions to train your cat should be kept brief because the attention span of a cat is short. You can’t expect your cat to stay interested every time you want to start a session. Be extra-sensitive to your furball’s body language so you will know when he has had enough. You should also learn to respect your pet’s space during training.
Also, just like humans, the learning curve of cats differ. Some are smarter than others and learn quicker than their counterparts.
One lesson at a time
Even if you are excited to start your pet’s training and you want him to learn everything at once, this should NOT be the case. Cat training should all be about starting small, practicing one lesson at a time. Once your cat has successfully sailed through a training course, that’s the time that you can move on to the next regimen. For example, if you have just brought home a new kitten, the first training regimen on your list may be litter training, and once you’re done, you can work on introducing the new kitty to other pets, then grooming, then carrier training, and so on.
Train your cat in various areas in your home
When you are training your kitty, practice issuing commands in various places in your home. For example, when you are introducing your new cat to other pets, be sure to let them interact not only in the living room but in other areas of your home as well so that your cat will learn that he will encounter these other pets anytime, anywhere around the house. This can help prevent anxiety or worse, displays of aggressive behavior.
Another common example is litter training. Placing litter boxes in different spots in your home can also help achieve desired results faster. This is also true when training your cat to use a scratching post or pad or playing with a new toy.
Involve other people
Your pet cat should learn to interact with other people. Make sure that these interactions are positive experiences for your pet. This does wonder in making him more social and friendly. When introducing your pet to new people, avoid overwhelming him with many people all at once. You should also ask your friends to keep the first few meetings low-key, allowing your pet some leeway.
It’s crucial that everyone in the family should be involved in your cat’s training. This is important in promoting consistency and strengthening relationships. Thus, before you start your cat’s training, make sure everyone is on the same page; everyone should know your cat training goals and what methods should be employed to achieve the desired results.
Use positive reinforcement
Many professional animal trainers swear by positive reinforcement training or reward-based training. Offering rewards -- a treat, a belly rub, lots of praise, extra playtime, etc.-- reinforce desired behavior. When your kitty knows what’s waiting for him if he does well, he will be greatly motivated. When offering praise, always use a kind, upbeat voice while scratching your kitty behind the ears or gently patting him on the head.
A clicker system can also be used for positive reinforcement training. The clicker gives off a clicking sound to mark desired behavior before a treat is offered. Your kitty will eventually associate the clicking sound as a signal for a job well done.
Use tasty treats
To keep your cat interested in your training sessions and highly motivated to display desired behavior, choose a treat that he finds extremely irresistible. Steamed chicken, tuna, baby food, and selected commercial cat treats are good choices. Just be sure they are in bite-sizes. Always remember that with cat training, persuasion is much preferred over punishment.
Punishment has no place in cat training
Achieving desired results during your cat’s training doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, the method you are using isn’t just working, and you have to re-assess your training plan and nip any potential problem in the bud.
Whatever the case, punishment has NO place in cat training. Shouting, slapping, or shaking your kitten can only confuse him. He will not understand why you are sending out all these negative vibes and actions. Punishment is counter-productive. It can only send you back to square one with a confused, reclusive, and possibly aggressive cat. Punishment is also stressful for cats and can have a negative effect on their immune system, making them more vulnerable to developing health issues.
With tons of patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, it is possible to train a new kitten or even an adult cat.