The Importance of Training your Cat

Most people will associate the word ‘training’ with dogs or horses but few know that cats can also be taught a range of tricks and behaviours. If you’re thinking about buying a kitten or maybe adopting an adult cat there is plenty of literature you can refer to as well as breeders or trainers who specialise in cat training. This article aims at clarifying the benefits of training your furry friend and providing some useful tips to get you started.

How can a Cat Learn a New Behaviour?

Cats are known for their independent nature so it can be quite difficult imagining a kitten that patiently waits for your command and performing a certain action. Yet, it is absolutely possible to teach your pet how to sit, come when called and even retrieve an object. The basis for successful training of any animal companion is in the reward which should be positive and enticing. When we decide to train our dog for example, food rewards are the most popular motivation to keep our puppy’s attention and interest during a session. Well the same applies to your kitty cat and the right motivation will do wonders in teaching it basic commands. Remember, your cat is a very intelligent and curious mammal with highly developed senses so it is not unlikely that it will happily comply with your request if there is a delicious treat involved.

Why Should I Train my Cat?

If you’re still wondering why your domestic kitten should be trained try thinking about the day-to-day activities in which your pet may be involved. For example, when you first bring your new furry friend home where would you want it to toilet? When you sit at the table for dinner, will your cat be allowed to eat from your same plate? If you open the window and your kitty jumps out into the backyard, how will you tell it to come back into the house? What about guests that may be a little intimidated by your pet? How will you cope with the situation? There are a number of circumstances in which pet owners expect a specific behaviour or reaction from their cat however, as with any other animal companion that doesn’t speak our language it is essential that such expectations are clarified through clear instructions that are easily understandable by our furry friends. 

The most immediate advantage of training your cat is the peace of mind you'll get from knowing your fur baby can behave among others and it won't suddenly lunge at a guest or your child causing trouble.

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Socialising your Cat

In order to have a well-behaved and obedient cat you must seriously consider a proper and early socialisation. Exposing your kitty to a variety of situations even if it spends all of its time inside the house is a vital aspect for your peace of mind and your pet’s wellbeing. 

Whether you’ve purchased a young kitten from a breeder or adopted a more mature cat from a shelter you must spend the necessary time interacting with your new animal companion under different circumstances. Gradually begin to build a strong relationship with your pet by giving it the care and attention it needs to start trusting you. Gradually introduce any other family member so that your cat gets used to spending time with them. Start having guests over, maybe even one at the time but always proving that humans entering the house (its territory) are friendly. If you already have another pet, slowly manage the introduction and monitor any encounter between them until you are confident there is no risk of a fight. 

Socialising your cat early on will go a long way with making the entire training process much easier for you both.

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How to Start Training your Cat

Training a pet means working on modifying its behaviour in order to remove the unwanted actions that may cause life together to become stressful.

It is important that training is done with a positive attitude and lots of patience. Don’t start a training session if you’re tired and irritable after work or even if your pet is relaxing on the sofa. Wait until you feel ready to spend some quality time with your cat which should be responsive and alert. Remove any distraction such as the TV or mobile phone and concentrate on your furry friend.

As all animal companions, your kitty cat will be easily attracted by a yummy food reward so prepare some treats to use during the session and be ready to praise and cuddle your pet when it does the right thing.

Keep the training session short: don’t exceed the 10-15 minutes if you want to keep your pet focused and interested, and try to always end it with a positive note (i.e extra cuddles or a bigger treat). You’ll need plenty of patience as there will be failures and mistakes however it is vital that you never scream or hit your cat. 

Remember: animals don’t speak our language so we can’t expect them to read our minds and do as told without understanding why we are asking for a certain thing. Think about it as your cat asking "What's in it for me?" and be sure that the answer to this question is always "Rewards, cuddles and time together".

What Tricks can I Teach my Cat?

Domestic cats can learn all sorts of commands: sit, roll over, high five and many more. However as every other pet, they first of all individuals that may react differently to training techniques and commands. So remember to be patient and observant of the requests to which your kitty may respond better.

The first lesson you’ll want your cat to learn is to not toilet on your carpet or bed but in the litter. Regardless of how old your kitty may be, it is essential that you begin working on toilet training as soon as you welcome your new furry friend in the house as not all kitties would have been instructed to use a litter before. This may also be the most frustrating time as a pet owner but stay calm and never scold your furry friend for making mistakes. Be consistent and keep showing your cat what to do with the litter box. Find the most suitable box depending on your cat’s size and age, place it in a convenient spot and try to figure out your pet’s schedule. If after a while your kitty is still unable to use its litter box, keep a close eye on it and maybe consider reaching out to an experienced vet to clear out any potential medical problems.

You can even teach your cat to sit on command and, as all kitties naturally sit this should be quite an easy lesson. Simply call your pet near you and ask it to 'sit' by putting little pressure on its back to encourage the movement. As soon as you obtain the wanted behaviour, praise and reward your pet with some delicious treats.

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Benefits of Training your Cat

Training your cat can be a rewarding and fun way of teaching it a new behaviour. Not only you’ll be able to modify an unwanted behaviour around strangers, other pets or yourself but you’ll also build a relationship on trust and positivity. Pet owners that dedicate a part of their day interacting with their kitten in a constructive way will soon begin to reap the benefits of this dedication.

A well-trained kitty is able to constantly improve its social and intellectual skills by focusing on understanding new commands. This means your furry friend will be active not only physically but also mentally while it is regularly stimulated and entertained. And we all know, an active cat has more chances of keeping fit, healthy and happy.

The bond between you two can only strengthen as you get to know your pet’s behaviour and inclinations towards certain training techniques. As an owner who spends quality time with your cat, you’ll find that kind of companionship you most likely seek in it while also keeping active and mentally sharp yourself.

Author Marino
Author: Marino Tilatti
Member of PetsForAll Editorial Stuff

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