Although possible, training your feline friend is a much bigger task than training any canine family members!
It’s important to start with incredibly basic first steps which reward positive behaviour and discourage the negative.
For the most part, how you train a cat versus how you train a dog will be quite different.
When training your cat, you'll start with very basic first steps that both reward good behaviour and discourage the bad. But can you train a cat the same way you might train a dog? Yes and no. Cats are highly independent animals so might appear aloof or uninterested in following your commands. That said, it doesn't mean you can't influence their behaviour. Training will require lots of patience and lots of consistency!
What Do You Want to Teach Your Cat?
First, decide what it is that you would like your cat to learn, then plan how to take small daily steps in how to achieve this. Before you start training, think about what instructions you'll use and what actions you want to teach.
Some common objectives include:
- House training or litter training.
- Coming to you when you call or gesture.
- Staying calm and still for grooming.
- Interacting with you, other people, or other animals.
- Playing with toys, with you, or with another cat.
- Calm travelling (getting into a carrier and riding in the car).
There are many reasons you may wish to train your cat. The main benefit of doing so will be that it will help your cat become social and content around humans and indeed other animals. Training is also important for your own well-being; if your cat learns to be calm during times when it is easy for them to become anxious, e.g. travelling, there will be no anxiety for either of you. The ultimate goal is obviously to have the best relationship possible with your cat.
Keep Each 'Session' Short
The most important thing to remember here is that your cat’s attention span is going to be much shorter than yours. As such, let your cat determine how long the “lesson” will last, otherwise, they will lose interest and you will achieve nothing.
It’s important to prioritise! Though you may be excited to train your moggie, take it slow, one objective at a time. If you try to impart too much at once on to your pet at once, it is easy for them to become overwhelmed and once again, they’ll quickly lose interest.
Don't Limit to One Area
Once your cat has learned a command, practice in different areas of your home. This is predominantly more important if you are introducing them to other pets in the home, as they may believe that these other pets only exist in that particular space and it’s important they understand that they may encounter these pets in other areas of their home.
Ascertaining your training techniques in various locations is obviously also vital when it comes to litter training to help prevent any accidents.
Involve Other People
Unless it is only yourself and your feline friend in your household, you should slowly bring new people into their training process so as to ensure they become sociable creatures and do not become territorial.
Invite friends and family to meet your new pet but ensure they are not imposing with their introduction. Just as you practice training in small spurts, you should allow your pet the same leeway.
Use A Reward System
When it comes to training, this is where Norsh will come in incredibly useful! Reinforce good behaviour by using treats. This will provide great motivation to your cat. Give praise while petting so they know these gestures mean well.
If It Isn't Working
Patience is key – you will not achieve your training overnight and your cat will naturally make mistakes throughout this process. You need to ensure you respond to this mistake in a way that is both encouraging but clear that the behaviour was incorrect so that your pet understands what you are trying to communicate. Punishment doesn't work when you're trying to train a kitten because your cat simply won't understand why they’re in trouble. In fact, it could make the situation worse and your cat more reclusive and ill behaved.
NEVER slap, shake, or physically correct your kitten during training, and don't forget to keep your voice calm. If your cat feels threatened, not only will training begin to fail, but they will also quickly become afraid of you.
Learning how to train your cat can be a really fun undertaking. Just remember to be patient and positive!