Welcoming home a new cat or kitten could easily be one of the best days of your life. Being a cat mom or dad can be a very fulfilling adventure. Believe it or not, cats can pick up on certain things quicker and easier than dogs. If you’re curious about how to train a cat and are in need of helpful tips, you’ve come to the right post!They say, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," but what about cats? Have you ever wondered how to train a cat? Try these helpful tips, tricks, and treats! #cats #catsoftwitter #catlovers #catblogger Click To Tweet
It is commonly thought that cats cannot be trained because felines are designed to do their own thing, but quite the contrary is true. In fact, it is believed that our cats have an ‘associative (long-term) memory’ lasting 16 hours!
This long-term associative memory is why a cat has a strong negative or positive reaction to something they’ve already been exposed to.
What this means for us crazy cat parents dedicated to the cause of teaching our cats new tricks is that positive verbal reinforcements + a tasty treat reward creates lasting, long-term memories that create new behaviors.
I love how Beth Pasek, owner of Finicky, puts it. “Cats like to learn things they get rewarded for, but then who doesn’t?“
Aim for short training sessions of less than 5 minutes each. Scatter these throughout the day until the desired behavior or trick is learned. When giving treats to reward the ‘right’ behavior, be careful not to overdo it! 😉 More treats doesn’t guarantee your stubborn learner will do what you request, ha ha!
Now that we’ve discussed the general idea behind how to train a cat and how they learn, let’s take a look at a few helpful techniques.
How To Train A Cat: Use Treats
As mentioned above, treats activate the ‘happy reward center’ in your cat’s brain. They associate doing a certain thing for you with their favorite yummy snack and this motivates them to repeat the behavior.
You do need to know what is going to make your kitty’s mouth water. The more they love that particular treat, the more motivated they will become to get it! Some of our feline friends have some very selective tastebuds, you know!
No matter, if it is little pieces of cubed chicken or little bits of salmon, knowing what your fur-child loves, will give your cat the positive reinforcement he or she needs.
You can get treats from petness.com, your local grocery store, or pet supply locations. If possible, look into whether or not your local area has any small business pet shops you’d like to support. Many of those businesses can become like a second family and they all need your support, now more than ever before!
Consider A Clicker
Using a clicker is another way you can let your cat know that whatever behavior he or she did is good. When your cat does something correctly, hit the clicker and offer him or her a treat.
If your feline does a behavior you do not like or don’t want to encourage, simply ignore it and wait for the ‘right’ trick or behavior you are wanting to teach.
It is important to remember that in the beginning of training, the “clicker” sound will mean nothing to your cat. No positive association has been made yet. Remember the associative memory rule from earlier in this post?
As soon as their brilliant minds begin to connect the dots of desired behavior = click = treat = happy human, they will begin to enjoy this new adventure as much as you do! It becomes a bonding experience.
Who doesn’t want to see all the amazing feats their felines are capable of?
It is important to note that cats learn through repetition, so you need to press the clicker the instant your cat does the learned behavior and practice it a few times.
No clicker available? A click top pen will work in a pinch!
Want to see clicker training in action? Watch this video below:
Need a clicker of your own? We love these:
- Frisco Pet Training Clicker WITH wrist band from our favorite, Chewy
- As seen in the video above: CAT SCHOOL Cat Training Kit
Cats do not respond well at all to punishment. If your cat does something that you did not want him or her to do and you punish them, your cat will slowly learn to run away when they have done something bad instead of learning the behavior is unacceptable.
You could accidentally scare your cat so bad that they want to hide from you and the rest of your family. Bottom line is, punishing your cat creates stress. That stress can manifest in other ways like your cat relieving themselves outside the litter box and compulsive grooming. The key to training your cat is persuasion, not punishment.
Ignoring wrong behavior during training and encouraging good behavior by any of the methods above increases trust. A cat who doesn’t trust their teacher won’t learn a thing!
Other Possible Motivators
Cats are incredible creatures, and as we often say here at Cat Care Solutions, no two are alike. Their personalities are as unique as ours.
Understanding how to train a cat means understanding what makes yours happy.
Not all cats are motivated by food. My cat, Sugar, was motivated by love. Petting and talking to her was far more powerful than food.
As you are working on training your cat, it may take some time to figure out what your cat is motivated by.
It could be:
- Favorite toys
- Love and verbal affirmation
- Gentle petting (short strokes for training purposes)
- Or a combination of several
Use these techniques as guidelines because they do work. Just remember that it’s okay to change it up a bit in your own home if you find that something else works well too.
Take a look at these two food motivated cuties to brighten your day! Don’t even tell me you could resist saying, “Aww!” 😀
Have you trained your cat?
Do you have any special tips, tricks, and treats to share with me about how to train a cat? Has something in particular worked for you?
I’d really love to hear from you in the comments below!
Training our felines is possible, even the most stubborn among us. It just takes a bit of figuring out what makes them too excited to resist. Cats don’t work for just any ol’ thing, ya know! I’d say that makes them pretty darn smart. What do you say?
Did this post make you smile, laugh, learn something new? If it did, you’d make me one happy cat lady if you shared it with your social media family! I genuinely appreciate you! 😽
Sending Happy Purrs and Much Love,