7 Essential Cat Training Tricks Your Kitty Can Really Learn
Contrary to popular belief, cats are just as fun to train as dogs! Cat training is a great way to connect with your cat and teach her the meaning of a few key words.
As an equal opportunity pet fanatic, dare I say cats are just as fun to train as dogs? Your cat will welcome learning basic directions, and most kittens take well to leash training too if you pair the lessons with food and fun. “Many cats love training if done properly, with patience and rewards,” says behaviorist Katenna Jones, ACAAB and director of Jones Animal Behavior in Rhode Island. Like with any other relationship, you get out what you put in!
While cats can’t be trained to do the array of tasks dogs are bred for, basic training comes naturally to them. Cats will instinctively use a litter box, and common dog behavior problems like play biting are easy to avoid.
Often, training a cat not to do something, like training them not to bite or pull on a leash, simply comes down to not provoking that behavior in the first place. If you’re leash training, opt for a harness instead of a training collar, which can lead to frantic oppositional reflex and might choke your cat. If your cat bites, teach her what to do instead by redirecting her predatory instincts to a feathery toy.
The benefits of cat training are vast. “Training provides mental and physical stimulation as well as positive social contact,” Jones says. “Just the act of training in and of itself is incredibly valuable for frustrated, bored, shy, and fearful cats.”
Before you start your cat training endeavor, walk a minute in her paws. Unlike dogs who relate to their family like toddler-aged children, according to behaviorist Stanley Coren, PhD, DSc, FRSC, cats are more like teenagers. While dogs will cooperate for a few kind words, cats are motivated on a pay-to-play basis. Dismissive of our gushy excitement, cats will participate in training games only if the rewards are worthwhile.
7 Functional Tricks You Can Train Your Cat to Do
Cat training is a great way to connect with your cat and teach them the meaning of a few key words. “The important thing is to let your cat have the final say in what you teach them; not all cats like to do all things,” says Ingrid Johnson, CCBC and director of Fundamentally Feline in Georgia. “Choose behaviors that already come naturally to your cat before setting out to put the behavior on cue.
“Keep it positive,” she adds. “Clicker training is a very effective way to pinpoint the moments your cat does the behavior you focused on.”
Cat training, in a nutshell, is just assigning words to natural behaviors and rewarding your cat for cooperating. Here are seven words and actions to teach your cat:
2. Find It
5. On Your Mat & Stay
7. In the Box (or Cat Carrier)
Lessons often require intense focus, so keep them short and upbeat. End each one with a bout of fun using a feather flyer or a stuffed toy, letting your cat carry it away in victory. So try these 7 hacks and let us know has your cat learned or not.