6 Cat Training Tips
Most of us—even those of us who have cats—don’t consider felines incredibly trainable.
And while they may not be as eager to please as your average dog, they can be trained, especially if you have a tasty treat or favorite food in hand.
Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to train your cat:
Find a Reward
The first part of any training activity will involve finding a desirable reward for your feline. It will most likely come in the form of food. Make sure it’s healthy, safe for cats, and highly coveted by your cat. Canned sardines (BPA-free) in water with no salt added or treats can be a good place to start. Be sure your cat is hungry before starting training.
Dogs aren’t the only ones that can benefit from clicker training. It can be used in training an assortment of behaviors—from sitting to coming when called. You will need those tasty treats to associate the clicker with a positive reward.
Make It Fun
If your cat isn’t interested or wants to run off, let him. Keep training positive and relaxed, and at his own pace. If it’s not fun and rewarding, he won’t want to participate.
Teach Him to Sit
One fun behavior you can start with is sitting. Not too different from how you’d train a dog to sit, you can use a treat in your hand over your cat’s head to lure his head up and encourage him to sit. When he sits, you can click (or praise with “good” if you don’t have a clicker) and treat. As he improves, you can start adding the verbal “sit” cue to start the activity.
Timeouts for Rough Play
Cats sometimes get carried away during playtime—meaning you may end up with some nasty scratches or “love bites” on your arms. When he starts tearing into your hands and arms, gently extract yourself and stop the playtime by leaving the area. Not only will this protect your limbs, but it will teach him that rough play equals no play.
Another way to stop unwanted behavior is by redirecting the unwanted behavior into desired behavior. If your cat wants to attack your feet, throw a favorite toy off for him to chase (and play with him frequently). If he wants to scratch your bed, sofa, and/or favorite lounge chair, have many scratch pads nearby to place him at when he’s in a scratching mood.
Cats certainly have their own special way about them, but they can be trained. Remember to be patient, gentle, and keep things fun.