Cat Training – Is It Possible?
It might seem that trying to train a cat to do anything (or not do something) would be a fruitless task. After all domestic cats seem to be possessed of an independent nature.
It is true that domestic cats will almost never do something just to please you.
There usually has to be something in it for them.
It is a fact however that cats can be persuaded to do things and, even better, educated to stop doing what you don't want them to do, scratching the furniture or swinging on the drapes for example.
You may not have thought that a domestic cat could be a performing animal, but there are several cat circuses.
That shows that cat training is perfectly possible.
Do you want your kitty to jump through hoops? No of course not.
Teaching a cat to do cute but pointless tricks, like offering her paw for shaking, may take more of your time and patience than would be worthwhile.
Cat training that teaches your cat to come to you when you call her can be useful, and your cat learning to retrieve a thrown toy will give her some healthy exercise as we shall see.
Stop going outside the litter box, stop scratching the sofa, stop jumping on the counter.
Yes, it is very possible to quit doing many things that we consider to be bad behavior.
Naturally the younger your cat is when you start cat training, generally the easier it is. But older cats can be taught to stop misbehaving even if they have had bad habits all their lives.
As you will see, punishment should never be a part of cat behavior training.
Your cat can be encouraged to retrieve a ball, or other object, that you throw.
Naturally you need to use something that your cat can carry easily in her mouth. Not too big but not so small that there is a danger of her swallowing it. If it is a ball then a small soft one is good.
The ball will probably be so light that you can't toss it far, but that's OK, you are not going to train your cat to retrieve a ball you have thrown to the far end of your yard.
This is your little feline, not a German Shepard.
Favorite toys work well too, a toy mouse perhaps, that your cat can pick up by the tail.
However, many people have found that for retrieval cat training, a simple scrunched up piece of newspaper works best of all.
It is sometimes suggested that you rub whatever object that you are going to throw in some catnip.
If your cat reacts to catnip, (not all cats do,) she will certainly be interested in the object. But the snag here is that she is likely to lose all interest in bringing the ball back to you and just want to get high on the catnip!
Start by getting your cat's attention. If you are using a crumpled piece of newspaper, hold it up and crunch it so that it crackles, this should get your cat's interest.
Once she is looking your way, toss the paper ball so that it lands just beyond her.
Likely she will chase after it and possibly bat it around.
Gently and carefully take the ball from her, give her some praise and return to your original spot. Should your cat have picked up the paper ball in her mouth, then don't try and take it.
Tell her she is a good cat and slowly walk back to your original spot encouraging your cat to follow you. Most likely she will stay where she is.
Wait till she drops the ball, pick it up and return, throw the ball again and again, for about ten minutes. Remember to give her praise all the time.
Repeat the routine at around the same time each day.
After a few days, try waiting a while before you go to bring back the paper ball. Your cat could get impatient and bring the ball to you. If not, just keep trying.
Patience and praise are the keys to cat training.
Teaching your cat to come to you is perhaps one of the easier training exercises.
Your cat probably already comes to you as soon as she hears the sound of the can opener, or hears her food going into the dish.
Cat hears sound – cat knows that something pleasant is available when she hears that sound. And that's the whole secret to training a cat to come to you.
Teaching your feline friend to come to you is more than a neat trick, it can be very useful.
You may need to get kitty into her cat carrier, to visit the veterinarian, or to go on a trip. Or you may need to give her flea spot treatment.
Think how much easier these and other tasks can be if your cat comes to you - less stress all round.
You may think that calling out your cats name will be the simplest thing to signal that you want her to come to you. But this is not always so.
You may not be able to teach your cat to play soccer, but training can teach your cat to behave.
In general cats react to shorter one or two syllable names better than longer names. So if your kitty has a longer name like “Schrödinger,” it may not be the best thing to call.
Even if your cat has a short name and you use it all the time when you talk to her, you may want to use something else, something uniquely for when you are cat training her to come to you.
You could simply employ the word “treats.”
Whatever you call out, when teaching a cat to come to you, use a higher tone of voice. Cats are more attracted to a higher tone, a low tone of voice may imply that she is about to be scolded or punished.
You don't have to use a word as a signal. You may find better results using a cat training clicker or clapping your hands. What ever you use, only use it to teach your cat to come.
Start out just a few feet away from your cat. Use the signal, call her name or click the clicker, bring out the treat and place it on the floor just in front of you. The smell of the treat should attract your cat to it.
If she successfully responds, give her plenty of praise and, when she has finished the treat, pet her.
If she does not respond, try again. Repeat this sequence a half dozen times for the first session. Next day another session.
Progressively increase the distance you are away from your cat when you use her training signal. Soon your cat will come to you from another part of the house.
Don't overdo the number of treats for each session, remember that you don't want to end up with an overweight cat.
Next, occasionally forget to give the healthy treat when she comes to you, but keep up the praise and petting. Progress to only giving the treat occasionally.
Congratulations, your cat training has paid off, you now have a cat that comes running when called.
Can't get your cat to behave? Try a little Cat Psychology before all else fails.
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