How To Train a Cat: 10 Tips For Cat Training
Pssst, have you heard: you can’t train an old cat new tricks. Well, says who? Sure, you’ve got to know how to train a cat, but it’s totally and “purrfectly” possible!
And with the health benefits of owning a cat including being 30% less likely to die of a heart attack, having fewer allergies, and sleeping better, it’s clear that cats contribute greatly to our lives. The best news is that it doesn’t take nine lives to train a cat. Break out the Fancy Feast and read on for some cat training tips.
Old Cats, New Tricks
We’re saying out with the old here, the old expression that is.
Tip 1: Don’t ever rule out your kitty for training just due to his age.
Whether you have an “old” (senior) cat, your cat’s been with you for years, or you have just adopted a kitten, you should never let this plainly wrong stereotype stop you from the rewarding pastime of cat training.
Tip 2: Experts agree that kittens are the easiest to train.
Of course, many of the so-called experts who talk about cat training will grudgingly admit that some cats can be trained if they’re young.
A study on kittens at Oregon State University revealed several interesting facts:
- Kittens who spend just a few minutes with a stranger can “miss” that stranger when she gets up to leave the room.
- Kittens’ personalities are evolved enough to show optimism and pessimism.
- Kittens can gauge the ups and downs in our voices and can tell if something’s not right.
That goes along with the “young cat, new tricks” thinking, but older cats can be trained as well.
Sorting Socks and His Box
Senior cats get a bad rap when it comes to new tricks, especially that you can’t train a middle to older-aged cat.
In fact, senior cats are more likely to have litter box problems, so training Mr. Socks and his litter box go hand in hand! Or paw in paw, that is.
Senior cats can have litter box issues because:
- They can’t climb across its threshold/lip anymore
- Other cats share the box and those scents are bothering your senior
- The type of litter you use (such as newspaper pellets) hurt your cat’s paw pads
- A neurological issue has caused your cat to fear/hate the box
Well, if you know how to train a cat, you can help resolve these issues, making life a lot happier for you both!
Tip 3: Head to the bathroom for training.
Yes, it’s possible to toilet train your cat!
Like everything else, it takes time, patience, and a lot of “Good kitty!” but consider the time together as shared bonding for you and your pet.
How to Train a Cat with Food
For many people, treats and delicious meals are a way for us to celebrate good behavior, good news, and a good day.
Why shouldn’t it be the same for your cat?
Tip 4: Learning how to train your cat with food can be an excellent way to bond with your cat of any age.
Nope, your cat probably won’t want the same rewards as champagne, chocolate cake, or a nice steak (unless it comes in a Whiskas tin), but there are recipes you can make as rewards for your next kitty training session:
- Fish and Coconut Croutons
- Tuna Crunchers
- Tuna Hearts
- Catnip Crumbles
- Sunflower Cat Treats
- Savory Cheese Bites
- Chicken Biscuits
Tip 5: You can find many recipes online and modify them to your cat’s food preferences as well as any dietary issues.
Even the Humane Society gets in on the act, recommending that food/treats be used as positive motivation for cats.
Part of this plays into another tired cat stereotype of felines being aloof and unmotivated by praise and attention.
The thing is, food and treats can work with training, so why not give them a try?
Whether you train your own companion pets, fosters, or volunteer at shelters, you’re doing a lot of good when you train cats.
The ASPCA notes that 3.2 million cats come to shelters every year, and 860,000 of those cats don’t make it out of the shelter.
Tip 6: When you learn how to train a cat, you could be saving its life.
If a cat is trained, it could make him more likely to be adopted, with a more playful nature, better litter box and food behaviors, more socialized around other pets.
Then you save more lives.
Cats may have nine lives, but all of those lives are in danger when they’re sitting in a shelter with an expiration date hovering over their furry heads.
Tip 7: For every trained cat that is adopted, space is made free for another cat to reside in that shelter until it comes time for his own adoption.
Consider the cats on a conveyor belt. Training keeps that belt going and the cats keep moving into their forever homes.
Pause for the Purring
As you get more successful and confident while you learn how to train a cat, it can be easy to get lost in the process.
Don’t forget to take a moment to observe your furry friend during the training process.
Watch out for signs that your cat may be getting tired, frustrated, or annoyed with the training.
And that includes purring.
Tip 8: Cats don’t always purr out of happiness.
That’s right! According to the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, that rumble we love to hear and feel can sometimes mean your cat is in distress.
You may have just trained a little too long, or too much, or your cat is hungry, tired, or doesn’t understand how to get the reward.
Tip 9: Your cat may try to train you.
Maybe your cat is just training you to stop training him.
Whoa, that is quite a circle there, stay with us!
And stay with the training, too.
You’re in charge, despite what the cat thinks.
And if you quit the training at the slightest bit of your cat’s resistance, you’ll never get to enjoy the benefits that come from the training. And neither will your cat.
No, really, training is often a two-way street.
Tip 10: Your cat will give you feedback.
Look to your cat for feedback and your cat will let you know when he is ready to keep learning.
The feedback that your cat is unhappy with the cat training may include him walking away, raising his hackles or puffing out his fur, growling or hissing, showing fangs, or simply not even attempting any of the training behaviors.
Jump on the Training Train
Sometimes, even the cat trainer needs a little help.
Consider this your train-the-trainer time!
If you’re ready – or have already started with some hackle-raising results – to start training your cat, let us share our knowledge.
We’ve got tons of tips and suggestions on this trying time because we’ve been through it ourselves.