How To Train a Cat: Helpful Tips, Tricks, and Treats!
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,
Cats are super smart. You can train them, but need to have patience. Great tips.
Have a fabulous day, Holly. Big hug. ♥
I couldn’t agree with you more, Sandee! Cats are definitely brilliant and trainable. Patience is the key, you got it!
Sending huge hugs and endless love your way, my friend. Thank you for your support and kindness! ♥
Loved your post! We had a kitten in our shelter awhile back who loved to play catch with a little yarn ball. We hadn’t taught him how to do that so have no idea how he learned.
Hi, Karen! It’s really nice to hear from you. I especially love your story of this adorable kitten! That sounds absolutely precious. He must have melted your heart watching him play like that? How sweet!
Cats are remarkable animals. It does make you wonder how or where he learned to catch. Did he come to the shelter as an abandoned stray or was he born in there after his mama was brought in?
Thank you again for your great comment. It has made my day! I hope you will return and share more. 🙂
The life of a cat herder/trainer is really tough.
It sure is, Tim! It’s great to hear from you. How are you and your family doing?
We’re doing great now that’s Spunk’s back.
I have been gone a month or two. I had no idea Spunk was gone! What happened?
Cats are so smart, I don’t know why people think they can’t be trained. Although there does have to be an incentive for them, as you say. I’m currently trying to persuade a new cat to use a microchipped cat flap. He’s worked out how to exit the house but coming in is proving more of a challenge! x
Hi, Lisa! I agree with you. It doesn’t make sense that people think cats can’t be trained. They are brilliant. Just knowing how they think is the trick. 😊
Isn’t it funny how cats catch on to either coming in or going out of the cat flap faster than the other direction? 😀 I had a cat who thought coming in was troubling too. It took sitting at the cat flap while it opened and putting my hand through to show him he could do it too. I hope your precious new one discovers the ease of it soon too! 😻 Thank you for your comment!
Thank you, Holly and I have an update: he’s discovered how to go in and out by himself!!! Yay, no more litter trays!!! x
That’s awesome, Lisa! Thank you for coming back with the update!
This is such a great post Holly! I need to train my cat! Sometimes he can be a bit unruly lol
😂 You crack me up! A bit unruly huh? Does he wear his mama out? I’d love to hear those stories!
Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m genuinely grateful to hear from you! 💛
Such great tips! I would have never thought to use a clicker to train a cat. Good idea!
I love the videos you shared. I could watch cute and funny cat videos every day and not get bored. ❤️
Aw, thank you! They learn surprisingly fast. Cats have just gotten a bad reputation is all. 🤣 “Right now? Ehhh, what’s in this for ME?”
I hear you, Michelle! The antics of cats are never-ending. Sharing light-hearted videos, stories, and funny stuff has been on my heart to do lately. We need the laughter these days, right? It makes me smile to hear you enjoyed! 💕
When Virgil adopted us, I never would have thought of training a cat. They’re like a law unto themselves, and so different what I’d known in my life, which was a dog (not great with the training but the most beautiful, awesome dog I could have ever asked for as a kid). Virgil, on the other hand, does as he likes and no hooman will ever tell him otherwise. BUT he has been trained, it just happened spontaneously and not in great ways. He’s basically got my dad wrapped around his little paw as I’m less inclined to fall for it. We’ve ended up with a cat that’s trained us, not the other way around! I wonder if it’s too late now to train him in certain ways or not. A clicker is a great idea, as you say it’s just building up those associations over time. Fab post, Holly! xx
“They’re like a law unto themselves.” 🤣 That cracked me up! Dogs and cats are definitely different in personality, although I must admit that many cats have traits that most would consider being “dog-like.”
I get the best laughs out of your description of Virgil! You might be surprised just how trained he is! Although it sure does sound like most of the training has occurred outwardly in his favor, ha ha! Your dad is a softie for Virgil, is he? Extra treats and all the spoils of a King, I bet!
Clickers do work really well. Most of all with cats, it’s the trust factor. The more bonded they are with the one teaching, the more likely it is they will learn. My cat Sugar learned faster than any creature I’ve ever seen but we were also inseparable. Plus, of course, you’ve got the personality differences. Dizzy will be glad to oblige your silly hooman requests so long as she is always in control of how the proceedings go! 🤣
Is Virgil food motivated? That would help a lot! Thank you, Caz, for another amazing comment. You’re the best!
“Is Virgil food motivated?” – The day he turns down food is the day we know something is very wrong. He’s super food motivated, which is why I kept telling dad not to keep reaching for the cat food all the damn time. Honestly, my dad will moan about “my” cat, but we all know he wouldn’t be alive hadn’t I have started looking after him and we also all know my dad LOVES this little dude. He would be lost without him. They’re always together and you’re right, cats can definitely show some dog-like tendencies. Or at least far more dog like than I ever imagined. He’ll sit and watch dad whenever he’s doing the gardening, following him around. He only loves me these days when it’s cold so he can snuggle on the blankies in my room!
Sounds like you & Sugar were very close ♥ ♥ ♥
Ha ha ha! Your dad sounds hilarious with Virgil. What a sweet story! Cats have a way of worming their way into your heart in a way you least expect them to. Once they’re there, forget about it – they’re too charming to resist! I love your heart for Virgil, Caz. You’re awesome for taking care of him and showing him such love. I know we joke about how he only loves you when it’s cold so he can snuggle, but I know that’s not true! 😁 He absolutely adores you and would be lost without his mama!
A food lover like Virgil would definitely be easy to train. I’d love to see a video of him doing some hilarious trick. It would be my pleasure to feature you and that cutie pie any day! 😊
Sugar and I were unbelievably close. Words could never do her justice. She was a truly supernatural presence in my life! Just last night I came to tears as I hung a photo of her in my office. They grip our hearts, don’t they?
Sending my love to you for yet another amazing comment. You’re the best!
PS. I love your new butterfly signature – so pretty!!
I tried to make a signature one and could never get it right. Maybe I’ll try again one day. Yours is awesome! xx
You are so kind, thank you! Like you, I had tried and tried to make one with no luck. Try this: Open up Canva and create a “custom dimensions” image. Make it 3000 x 3000 px. Then just make your font as big as you can or choose to in whichever font you like the most for your brand, etc. To get the butterflies, I chose an image that had lots of white space in the middle but had a few butterflies I could move around. Then I added little touches here and there that made it look complete. Canva has the “filter” function for their photos so you can choose white as the background color of preference to find the right photo (if any) for your signature background.
Does that make any sense? I was finding it hard to describe this way!
I’m glad you like the new one. Butterflies had really been speaking to me on a deeper level because I love what they represent: change and the beauty of that change. I believe the symbols that touch us are there for a reason. 🙂 Let me know if I can help you create one you love. I’d be glad to do what I can to help!
Butterflies were the perfect choice for what they represent, and I really do love the design, you did a great job with it! Thank you so much for the tips – it’s the size I often don’t have a clue about when making Canva designs. I’m pretty sure 3000 is far bigger than what I’d attempted; maybe that was part of the problem, I was making a microscopic signature! I’ll add it to my to-do list to try again. Thanks, Holly!
I hope you have a relaxing weekend lovely xx
You are so sweet, thank you Caz! Canva sizes can definitely be tricky. Supposedly the 3000px by 3000px size allows the signature to show in every format. Like you, when I originally began attempting them, it wasn’t even half that size, ha ha! Let me know if I can help you with it somehow. I love your design skills. 🙂
As always, I’m sending hugs and smiles your way in hopes that today is treating you with the kindness, hope, and love you deserve!