Teaching your cat to come when called – Part 2

Teaching your cat to come to you when you want them to is a fairly simple (if occasionally lengthy!) process.

First of all you need to make sure that when you call them you do it in exactly the same way each time, I actually use a distinctive whistle to call mine in for food, as it is easier on the throat than yelling their name over and over again! If you want to use the cats name then ensure that the pitch differs from the one you use in normal conversation, kitty will find it very hard to filter their name out from the normal background drone of human chatter otherwise. Using a slightly higher, singsong pitch is most effective (baby talk, if you will).

When you start to use the cats name, don’t expect them to react straight away, if, as I have suggested, you use a different higher pitch than your normal voice, the cats attention will be caught almost straight away, but that does not mean the cat will walk over to you (handily, most do anyway!).

Ensure that you have a heavy supply of treats, the treats must be extra specially tasty. Pet stores do sell little bags of treats for your cat, and if your cat really likes them then thats great. I found that little bits if chicken worked on one of mine, but oddly not the other, he liked tuna; so I ended up carrying a well sealed bag of tuna flakes (and a pack of babywipes..ick!). Feed the snacks to your cat, whilst repeating their name or your chosen form of summoning. The cat has to decide that these are desirable and well worth having, so make sure he or she acquires a taste for them.

Now here comes the fun part (this takes at least fifty repeats). Every time your cat walks past use it’s name, when it looks up, throw a treat. Be very consistent, cats are bright and it will get the idea very quickly. Once the cat is responding (even flicking it’s ears in your direction warrants a treat, watch it’s body language) then try it at more of a distance, another room for instance. When you give the cat dinner use it’s name a lot, when you are dishing it up keep talking to it.

After a few days of this your cat will be responding reliably, like all animals they think with their belly!

If your cat is deaf you can STILL use this method (some breeds are prone to deafness). Simply swap the noise for something tactile, I had a deaf Siamese years ago, I used one of those little buzzers you can buy in joke shops to “shock” handshake someone, when pressed to the floor it vibrated hard, and the cat could feel it through it’s pads (soles of its feet). Do not touch the cat with the buzzer.. you will (deservedly) get scratched and then ignored for weeks!

Bear in mind that your cat will now link treats to actions, so you can continue to use them to train your cat to do other things if you wish to. If you do call your cat in always treat them, it will start to think you are a bit of a joker if you do it a lot and don’t reward, and believe it or not, pussy may well start ignoring you!

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