Cat Behavior : How to Train Your Cat

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Do you know how to train your cat?

Most people think that cats can’t be trained.  They say that cats are too aloof, or too independant to be trained.  They’re too smart for us to train.  They don’t listen to us like dogs do so they can’t be trained.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

cat - love

Cats can in fact be trained.  If you now how to train your cat, you can get him to do many wonderful things.

How to Train Your Cat

The first step to training your cat is to understand him. Cats aren’t as social as dogs. Dogs have been bred specifically to work together with people, whereas the primary reason cats were domesticated was to kill vermin on their own. So they’re independent, and they aren’t as naturally inclined to work for praise and attention as dogs are. They’re also not as easy to motivate. You have to use really special treats that your cat finds irresistible. Training a cat requires some creativity and patience.

Training your cat has important benefits. You’re stimulating his body and his mind, which helps keep him healthy. And spending time together means you’re strengthening the bond you share. In addition to teaching fun tricks like wave and fetch, you can also teach him a range of useful behaviors like sit, stay and to come when called. You could even teach your cat to pee in the toilet and flush afterwards!

Source: ASPCA

While the techniques we use to train dogs may not be as effective with cats, there are still many ways to train your cat.

The key to training your cat is positive reinforcement.  Finding a tasty treat that your cat loves is a great start.  Many cats love things like tiny bits of chicken, tuna or other fish.  There are a lot of cat treats you can buy at your local supermarket that would be fine too.

Using a clicker to reinforce positive behavior has been shown to be an effective technique as well.  By making the clicking sound with a clicker or even a pen that clicks, right when the cat is doing what you want him to do, and then giving him his favorite treat, the cat will learn that that behavior and the sound of the clicker, feels good.  It reinforces the good behavior and conditions your cat to do what you like versus what you don’t like.

Never punish the cat.  People often believe that by taking their cat over to a puddle of pee-pee then dragging him over to his litterbox, they are teaching the cat that the pee goes there.  What they are really teaching the cat is that it does not feel good for a human to reach for me and when they REALLY want to torture me, they drag me over to that box full of smelly sand.  This is probably not a good way to train your cat.

To learn more, you might want to take a look at one of the following books:

  • Clicker Training for Cats Fun Kit by Karen Pryor
  • Teaching Your Cat Simple Tricks by Arden Moore
  • Cat Behavior and Training: Veterinary Advice for Owners by Ackerman, Landsberg and Hunthausen
  • Good Owners, Great Cats by Kilcommons and Wilson

Hopefully you found this information useful.  If so, tell us in the comments below.  We love hearing from you.  And please, share this with your friends!