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Tips For Training Your Cat

Updated on February 1, 2017

Cats are generally perceived as being the calm, rebellious little additions to the household. Their bustling energy is only matched by their at times, flippant range of emotions that can go from hot to cold quickly. Their predictability is amongst the lowest of standard domesticated animals turned house pet.

Compared to man’s best friend, they are independent, relaxed, and generally fluid animals that require very little upkeep aside from when they are sick. The temptation for cat owners to try and further domesticate them by teaching them to live within stringent rules is an often comedic undertaking that can yield results. Contrary to popular belief, cats are loving animals that are fully capable of learning tricks and habits according to their owner’s training.

From a young age, a cat’s personality shines through, and more often than not, they take cues from their interactions with their owners. For those that want to teach their cat any number of tricks or cool routines, it is only a matter of small continuous effort.

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Conditioning your cat comes from consistency.

Both bad behaviors and good behaviors are rooted in more than just acute actions. The first time your cat does something that you believe is negative, the initial reaction is to dismiss it as a one time problem or to overreact. Your cat is perceptive, and often will repeat habits it knows will get it attention, both positive and negative.
Molding your cat initially is a daily and even an every few hours operation. From the time they are kittens, they are building on the foundation that their trainer provides. The longer you wait,
the harder it is to train them. Much like learning any skill, training results come from steady and reliable schedules.
If you are attempting to train your cat to use the litter box or come when called, it requires giving the same stimuli and giving them the same result, whether it’s a treat, or a petting. Your cat will adjust to whatever you are willing to consistently work on with them.

  • Start small, establishing the habit of training is something that takes time. Don’t expect them to be able to do tricks on the first day or even first few weeks.
  • Stay consistent, try and keep training to the same period of time everyday.

Cats have their moods and good days just like we do.

When training a cat for a new habit, it’s important to take the time to understand them. Paying attention to your cat’s body language, habits, and schedule open doors for the opportunity to maximize your training efforts. Trying to force your cat to do too much can cause negative emotional backlash, as cats are sensitive creatures. Overloading them with instructions and stimuli without giving them time to digest and process will lead to little more than two frustrated parties. Recognizing your pet’s emotional/physical state when training them will make you much more effective as a trainer, saving time and maximizing results. Cat’s are subtle animals. It can be harder to tell what your cat is experiencing unless you are exceptionally in tune with them.

  • If you have time, try and spend some observing your cat beyond just playing with them.
  • Cat’s can be hard to read and complex, don’t be discouraged.

Rewards go much further than punishment.

It can not be overstated that cat’s are exceptionally sensitive animals. They are much more adept at reading emotional/social signals than many other comparable pets. For this reason, many owners think to use spray bottles and other forms of punishment to rid bad behaviors. It’s highly recommended that punishment be averted. It has been repeatedly been proven ineffective.

Though many people believe that punishment is a great way to correct someone learning, for animals a majority of the time this is not the case. Animals simply don’t process punishment the same way humans do. Not to mention, punishing your pet can have lasting long term side effects on their mental health.
Cats that are punished using physical action undergo a massive increase in their stress levels and anxiety, leading to them being unaffectionate, avoid ant, and confrontational when cornered.

-Cats under stress are less than sociable and are far more combative.
-Cats learn even less when under stress or when experiencing fear.
-They are more likely to repeat negative behaviors after punishment.

Rewarding a cat only when good behaviors are done re-enforces those good behaviors. If treats are given randomly in addition to when they are being rewarded, the cat will become confused and will wonder what they are being rewarded for. Understanding that treats/rewards are far more effective for enhancing good behavior is essential. In young kittens, it can be hard to tell which behaviors are negative behaviors and which are just signs of age such as playfulness. Every animal is completely unique, and must be treated as such. While the recommendations laid out here are guidelines, each owner ultimately has to study and understand what makes their cat tick.

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