(Yes, We Said “Cat”)
For many centuries, it was believed that humans could train their only dogs to do a wide variety of things. At the same time, very few people believed you could train your cat in the same way. These days however, almost everyone understands that the cat is just as smart and just as agreeable to training as a dog. There are cats that will come when they are called. There are cats that walk on leashes, and cats that compete in the sport of agility. These days, it’s possible to train your cat to do just about anything you want them to do.
There are people who maintain that some breeds of cats are more trainable than others, and that there are breeds that are not trainable at all. We disagree, and think cat training is for every breed.
When training your cat, it obviously helps to start when he is a kitten, but you can train adult cats also. Training a cat is not the same as training a dog, and it requires different techniques and methods, as well as patience and endurance. However, the reward will be great.
Obedience Training for Cats
If you are training your cat for obedience, such as staying off the counters and coming when called, keep in mind that cats do not respond well to negative reinforcement or discipline techniques. Cats do respond to favorite foods and affection. When using food treats, make sure they are high quality, real meat and try to use something your cat really likes. If your cat likes fish, get her a piece of fresh fish. For cats that like chicken, just boil up a breast, cut it into small pieces and use that. You will get a much better response from your meat-loving cat if you give him fresh meat treats.
Motivating Your Cat
When you first begin to train your cat, you will want her to be as motivated as possible. In order to facilitate this, you should start training as long after breakfast as possible. If your cat is hungry, she will be more motivated by your fresh meat treats than she otherwise might be.
To teach your cat to “stay”, for example, begin by putting your cat on a table so they are eye level with you. Now, you’ll train this command exactly as you would with a dog. When your cat begins to walk, place your hand right in front or his face and say ‘stay’. Immediately give your cat a piece of meat and pet him at the same time. Do this over and over until your cat stays when you give the command with both hand and voice. Give a little less meat treat each time until you are only giving the treat occasionally.
With this same technique you can train your cat to come when called or to give you their paw when asked. Cats are trainable. Try it, and share your stories and tips with us!
Photo: Courtesy of steve.garner32 via Flickr (CC by 2.0)