People train their dogs, so why not cats?
Much like dogs, cats can be trained commands like sitting, fetching, shaking and even rolling over. Cats may be more difficult to train than dogs, however, and pet parents interested in teaching their cat commands will need to be prepared with a cat-specific bag of tricks.
Why Train Your Cat?
Teaching your cat commands can help stimulate the cat’s mind and body. Cats are intelligent animals who are capable of learning a wide variety of commands and many enjoy doing so. Because it is interesting, mentally stimulating and challenging, teaching cats commands is especially engaging and fun for cats who spend a great deal of time alone or do not have other cats as playmates.
How to Train Your Cat
Unlike dogs, cats are not often overly social and eager to please. Although some cats will be easier to train than others are, all cats will require special training techniques, and it is important for pet parents to know this before they embark on the training journey.
- Use Food Treats: Although cats and dogs differ in many respects, all animals learn well with food. Find a treat that your cat loves and use it for your training sessions. Be sure to reward the cat instantly for good responses in order to facilitate better learning.
- Use a Clicker: Clicker training is very helpful when teaching animals new commands because it is instant and teaches the animal to associate the “click” with a job well done and an impending reward.
- Reward Efforts: While some cats may pick up on commands quickly, others may take more time; it is important to remember to reward your cat for any effort he or she makes in the right direction. If you are teaching your cat to sit, offer a reward every time his bottom moves toward the ground. Eventually, your cat will master the entire behavior.
- Stay Consistent: Cats are creatures of habit and they will learn best with consistent training. This means your training sessions should take place on a consistent basis (at least a few times a week) and that your voice commands and hand motions should be consistent as well.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Again, cats will often take longer to train than dogs and pet parents need to be patient. If it seems like your cat is taking an excessively long time to learn something, get creative with food rewards or try teaching a different command. Once your cat gets the hang of training as a whole, he or she will learn new commands much more quickly.
- Avoid Punishment: When training cats, it is especially important to avoid punishment. Cats do not respond well to punishment and will quickly become resistant and fearful if an owner resorts to punishment when the cat is not getting a command.
Although training cats can be challenging, it is a fun challenge that many pet parents have undertaken successfully. With a little patience and plenty of positive reinforcement, your cat can learn commands.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian
Photo ©iStock.com/Stephanie Zieber