Cats are known for their cute, curious, and independent nature. And because of this independent characteristic, many people believe that it is literally impossible to train a cat. But is that really it? Are cats truly “untrainable”? Let’s try and find out how to train a cat!
Again, we can agree in one thing that cats are generally independent. Unlike dogs which tend to be attached to their “hooman”, cats on the other hand prefer doing their own stuffs. Of course that is not to say that cats do not love their hooman as much as dogs, it is just… well they are not dependent on us.
This kind of nature can be traced back to their origins. Dogs’ ancestors are wolves which are pack animals. They normally live in pack, and so this nature passes on dogs as their natural instinct. Therefore, domestic dogs like to hang out with their human family and look up to their owner as “pack leader”. In contrast, wild cats tend to live alone and that is why they domestic cats do not depend much on other people. In addition, domestic dogs have been purposely raised for very long time to work with people, whereas cats have been mainly raised to hunt vermin. Again, the more reason why cats tend to be more independent.
So back to the main question: Are cats “untrainable”? The answer is: yes! Yes, they can be trained. However, let’s remind us all that training a cat requires different approach, unlike dogs training. The thing is: cats are not easily motivated like dogs. Dogs inherently like to please human, but cats do not. It is not like they hate to be praised and given treats, it is just not their things. As the results, training a cat requires us to understand what our cats like to do. Since cats tend to be curious by nature, it is best to be creative. Do something new which can peak our cats’ curiosity. Treats are necessary; however, we need to know which one is their favorite.
With that explanation out of our way, it is time to get into the main part!
Before we start to train cats, let’s agree on a rule here: Do not punish our cats, both verbally and physically!
This is extremely important. If we punish our cats, they will easily suffer from stress and worse, many behavioral and health problems. From cats’ perspective, punishment does not feel right for them. Cats simply do things based on their instinct. For them, they are doing right. Therefore, punishment may scare our cats in short-term but in long-term, it will not solve anything. There are better options than punishing; it is just the matter of understanding our cats and being patient. In the end, what we want us our cats living healthy and happy, not the other way around. In case you are curious, we suggest: How Cats Show Affection?
If we agree with this rule, let’s go to the first point!
Everyone likes treats, even cats!
Treats work wonder for dogs, and cats too… if you know what exact treats your cat likes. Some of the cats’ most favorite treats are bits of tuna, fresh chicken diced in tiny cubes, meat-flavored baby food, and commercial cat treats. These are most viable options but again, it still depends on our knowledge about our cats.
Alongside with treats, it is recommended to use clickers (or pen in case you do not have one). Just when our cats do something right, we can create a click noise to let our cats know that they did well. And then we give them treat. We should train our cats repeatedly several times in a row within short duration (like about few minutes). Let our cats practice regularly and soon they will learn the right things to do. Interesting enough, we can also gradually use clickers as the reward instead of using treats all the time. By letting our feline hear the clicking sound multiple times, she can come to understand that it is a good sign. Gradually, we can use clickers combining with less treats as positive rewards.
Next, let’s check out several trainings for our cats which we can do right away:
How to use litter box?
Cats are clean by nature. They tend to bury their waste under the ground and therefore, it should not be hard to train cats to use litter box.
- First off, prepare a litter box in a confined area like a room. Also, remember to prepare lots of food and clean water for our cat.
- If our cat does not peep in the box, place that waste to the litter box.
Normally, after one or two days our cat will learn to use litter box. But in case she still does not learn, we can try putting our cat in the litter box after she has eaten and then scratching the surface a bit. Also, be sure that the litter box is clean in case all methods above still do not work.
How to use the toilet?
This is a more difficult training than the litter box and it requires more time and patient. With time and patient, we can teach our cat to use the toilet (and maybe even flush the waste!). According to Reader’s Digest, we need to place the litter box near the toilet. When our cat gets used to the new area, we will gradually put it closer to the top of the seat. When she gets used to using litter box on top of the seat, we can replace that litter box with a new one which fits within the toilet. Once she gets used to that new one, we can finally try removing litter box once and for all.
Sit down please!
This is another basic stuff we should teach our feline friend. First off, try to get her attention. The best way to do this is to use the treat she likes (for example the treats we mentioned above). Once we got her attention, hold the treat right her nose, then move it slowly in an arc just above her head and between her ears. In that way, she has no other option but to raise her head and put her butt down on the floor. Try not to move the treat straight up since she will tend to stand up instead of sitting (but still a viable option if you want to teach her to stand). And just when she puts her butt down, reward her with the treat. Even if she does not put her butt down to the floor entirely, we still give her treat anyway. Repeat this process regularly few times a day, reward her with treat each time her butt stay nearer to the ground. Soon she will learn sitting properly.
This is yet another simple and interesting trick we can teach our cat. There is two ways to do this:
- Method 1: Use a treat to attract our cat. Be sure to align our level similar to her, and then tap on her paw while saying “shake”. When she moves her paw, use clicker to make her know that is a good response. Eventually she will know to offer her paw when we say “shake” (Of course, this will take days).
- Method 2: In the video How I Trained My Cats, Jun explained how he trained his cats to shake hand. According to him, he does this naturally by gently picking up cat’s paw before meal. Then gradually, his cats raise their paws by themselves and every time they do that, he gives them their meals. This method is actually really interesting and natural as you can just do this as daily activity.
It is quite easy to call our dog; however, calling a cat will require different approach. Again, in order to attract our cat, we will need something which she cannot resist. The best way to do this is probably making a distinct noise before feeding her like clicking. Eventually she will know that distinct noise means something good (who can resist delicious food anyway?) and she will come to us herself. Let’s start with short distance. When she comes to us, rewards her with clicking noise and treat. Then gradually train her in further distance. It would be best to do this training 2 times a day; each training time should be around 5 minutes at best.
How to Deal with Bad Behaviors?
Raising a cat is definitely not a cake-walk work, especially when she has just arrived at a new house. Sometimes your cat may have some bad behaviors which may startle you. However, let’s remind us all that DO NOT punish her. Cats do not understand “punishment” and therefore, doing that will just make things worse. Normally, bad behaviors happen due to health problems like stress, fear, anger towards other people, or diseases. Therefore, it is essential to learn what happened to our cats rather than punishing her.
In case we do not have any clue at first, we recommend bringing her to the vets. There are several physical health issues which can affect her life such as urinary tract infection or vision issues. Such problem should be dealt as early as possible. If she does not have any physical health problem, it is time to examine her living environment. There are several issues we will want to check out, for example: dirty litter box, having nothing to do (like scratching post, it is necessary to have one), or being bullied by other pets or neighbor pets. In case she is new to the house, she may also leave urine mark. But this is understandable since she has not got used to a brand new environment.
Here are several common behavioral problem and solution suggestion:
- Cat going to forbidden area: If we want to prevent her going to certain area in the house, we can use certain smell to make her go away like citrus. Other alternative can be making startle noise (not our voice) to make stop doing unwanted behaviors.
- Cat playing aggressively: During playtime certain cats may get too aggressive. In this case, we can just get out of the room and close the door. Wait until the cat calms down then get back. Doing this will tell our cat that such aggression is not acceptable.
- Boredom: It is best to provide our cat daily play session. This will develop the bond between us and our feline companion, and also develop both her mental and physical health. Also, it is highly suggested to provide her scratching posts. This will prevent her from ruining in-house furniture instead.
And that’s it folks! How do you train your cat? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!
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