You might expect Fido to sit, stay, and speak, while your cat just sits in a warm spot and watches the dog make a fool of himself. Still, you might find yourself wondering.. can you train a cat?
The answer is yes… usually.
Training a cat can be anything from teaching him to do “tricks” on command, to just teaching him to behave when he’s being handled. Training also keeps your cat’s mind sharp. Not to mention it builds a better relationship between you and your cat!
The right stuff
Don’t run off to get your cat for his first training session just yet - how trainable a cat is depends on his personality. Many cats are very independant and not as likely to work hard in return for praise. Some cats are easier to train, while others will take time and some creativity on your part.
One thing you need in abundance when setting out to train a cat is patience!
If you’re considering trying to train your cat, here are a few general tips to get you started on the right track:
Cat training for beginners
1. Find the right reward
Does your cat go crazy for a treat or specific type of cat food? Does he crave getting brushed? You know your cat better than anyone. Find the reward that will make your cat love to train.
One cat I had absolutely loved attention. All I had to do was give the command, then wait until he sat to give him attention - he was sitting on command within just a day. Of course, your experience might be different, especially until you find the reward that works the best. Keep trying and be patient!
2. Choose a time and stick to it
Cats are creatures of habit. They love routine. Turn training into part of their routine. Set aside a time every day when you know your cat won’t be hungry, sleepy, or otherwise distracted.
3. Use positive, not negative reinforcement
Reward your cat for doing well, but don’t punish him for not doing what you asked. Training should be a positive experience, and associating any negativity with training will make your cat less likely to cooperate. Stay calm and don’t get frustrated. If something is not working, try a different route!
4. Limit sessions to 10 - 15 minutes
Practice makes perfect, but too much practice will try your cat’s patience. Sessions should be fairly short and focus on one thing. Go into a training session with a specific goal - this can be anything from “teach to high five” to “allow to be picked up.” Research beforehand how you plan to accomplish this, so that the sessions are focused and concise.
5. Always end a training session on a positive note
Cats (and people) remember final impressions best. Choose something very simple that your cat already knows how to do well, and use that to end your training session. Even if nothing has gone right during the session, getting one final trick right will be enough to boost you and your cat’s spirits until the next time!
- by Yuliya