Some people think that you can’t train a cat. They think that cats are not smart enough to be trained or that they are too stubborn. These people are sadly misinformed – and they have never met my well-trained cat, Missy. Cats are intelligent creatures and have been known to open doors, play fetch, walk on a leash and even communicate with their owners. Training a cat, like training any animal, will initially be difficult. However, if you are consistent and determined you will find that cat training can be a very rewarding experience for you and your feline friend.
The first step in training your cat is making sure that you and your cat have developed a strong relationship. For the first few months, Missy and I did not get along well. She was nervous around me and was still getting used to her new surroundings. I spent time with her, feeding her on a regular schedule, playing, petting and talking with her until we bonded. After that, it was much easier for me to train her.
After you and your cat have bonded you can introduce her to cat training. You can train a cat to do many things including tricks, stop clawing, walk on a leash and even to use the toilet. The first thing I trained Missy to do was sit. This was the hardest trick to teach her because it was her first. I found that she responded best when I reinforced her with her favorite treat. I didn’t want to overwhelm her so we only trained for 5 minutes a day every day. After about two weeks, she mastered sit. Now, she sits on her own without a treat.
The best time to start to train a cat is when he is still a kitten. Young cats are eager to learn and love to be mentally stimulated. However, it is important not to over-task your kitten, or they will get frustrated or bored and it will be harder to train them in the future. Practice cat training a few minutes every day and don’t start a new trick until your cat has learned the first one. Once while training Missy, I forgot to watch the clock. She wasn’t responding well and I didn’t know why – until I saw the time. I had been training her for 20 minutes and she was tired and bored.
After I taught Missy how to sit, it was much easier to teach her other things. She had a problem of clawing furniture even though she had a scratching post. I learned about how to tell her “no” when she clawed furniture and to place her by the scratching post. When I saw her using the post, I gave her a treat. After a month she stopped clawing furniture.
Now that Missy was doing well with her cat training, I decided to teach her a very difficult task: to toilet train the cat. It took me nearly 3 months to train her properly, and it was very difficult, but in the end it was worth it. I read an article about how to toilet train a cat, which offered tips such as having a separate toilet for the cat and using an aluminum tray to make the process easier. At first Missy did not want to use the tray, but she soon adapted. I always made sure to give her a treat after she used the tray. Now she is fully toilet trained (except she doesn’t flush – yet!).
When you train your cat, the sky is the limit. In addition to training your cat to be a well-behaved member of your household, you can teach her many tricks. Continue to be patient and bond with your cat and the possibilities will be limitless.