So what’s easier, training a dog or training a cat? Most people will agree on the former. However, cats are trainable too.
Before you attempt to train your cat there are some things you need to know. Cats by nature are individuals. They are not very fond of group dynamics, and they don’t like to follow the leader. This makes it a challenge to train a cat, but they can be trained. Just follow these easy suggestions.
7 simple tips to training your cat:
- Start young – if you have a kitten, now is the best time to start training it. From the moment kittens open their eyes and start to move around, they undergo a kitty boot camp conducted by none other than their mom. Momma cat teaches her kittens how to groom themselves, hunt, how to act with other cats, and how to interact with humans. At about eight (8) weeks, a kitten is ready to leave its mother. Adopting a kitten at this stage is the best time to commence a training program. The kitten is used to taking orders from its mother. Therefore, it will be more receptive to learning from you. Besides, it will be more mature and be able to focus.
- Patience (and lots of it) – Patience is a virtue. When it comes to training, cats can be quite challenging. It is why it’s important to have an inexhaustible amount of patience. Try not to get frustrated. Cats are sensitive to stress and they can sense it in others. If you start showing signs of agitation during your first training session, your cat will not look forward to future sessions. Don’t give up after your first attempt to train you four-legged companion. Just keep at it.
- Positive reinforcement – When developing a training program for your cat, you must keep in mind that cats respond better to a reward based system than a punishment based one. For example if you are teaching your cat to use the scratching post, introduce it to the post, and give it a verbal cue like “scratchy time”. If your cat uses the post, reward it by providing a treat, petting it, or any other way to demonstrate that you approve of the behavior.
- Repetition – Like young children and puppies, kittens learn through repetition. So you will need to repeat each lesson several times before your cat learns what you want it to do.
- Consistency – Use the same verbal and visual cues for a specific task. This lets your cat know the behavior you want it to perform. For example, when you want your cat to use the scratching post, use the command “scratchy time” and point to the post. By using a specific phrase and gesture, your cat will learn to associate those cues with the behavior.
- Tools – You might want to consider using a clicker to let your cat know the training session is about to start and when to perform certain activities. For example, four quick clicks to let the cat know it’s time to train. Two clicks with verbal and visual commands to perform a certain task or behavior.
- Treats for Cats – Like most animals, food is a great incentive for cats. Especially, if it is a cat treat that they find irresistible. It is a good idea to set aside a certain type of cat treat for training. When your cat sees you reach for this specific treat it will serve as a cue that you want to teach it something. If you are worried that you cat will become fat from eating lots of treats, you can slowly replace the treats with words of encouragement and petting.
This is also a good way to introduce your cat to treats that are not only tasty but provide a treatment for certain ailments such as Enisyl-F Lysine treats for cats and kittens which is formulated to minimize herpes symptoms, and OptixCare L-Lysine for cats which is formulated to improve a cat’s immune system and can be given as a treat.
To sum it up: Cats are trainable although it might require more effort on your part. Training a kitten that has just left its mother is a lot easier to train than a full-grown cat. Cats respond better to positive reinforcements than to negative. Since cats have an individualist nature, it will require a lot patience to train one. However, with repetition, consistency and enough treats you can train your cat. While you might not be able to train your cat to answer the telephone, you can train it to use the scratching post.
What are your experiences in training cats?
Tell us in the comments section please.