Training your cat is possible! – Part 1

Training a cat is like training the wind change direction. Naturally, cats are independent and self focused. A dog lives to please, but cats lives to be pleased. However, humans have opposable thumbs and higher brain functions. This may possibly lead to successful training despite kitty’s smug refusals.

Actually, training cats is similar to training dogs. Both pets appreciate praise and treats. We can use this to our advantage to manipulate . . . uh, train the little darlings. One of the best ways to train a cat is by the clicker training method. It’s simple: when the cat does something you like, you click and give a treat. This associates the sound with good things in the cat’s mind and makes him or her putty in their owner’s hands. Well, maybe not, but it is better than being ignored.

Yelling and shouting at cats is counterproductive. Cats are part prey animal, part predator. They are naturally wary of anything loud and threatening. This is, however, a good way to get your cat to run when they see you. That really isn’t something most people like to train for, though.

When teaching a cat to use the litter, it is important to use praise. Yes, watch the princess go hold your nose, too. When she’s done, you can click and give her a treat my cats love tuna. If princess goes where she isn’t supposed to go, no amount of yelling will communicate the absolute horror of her actions. Best just to clean it up and take up vigil at the litter box. Placing her in the box and treating just for standing there is a good way to associate the box with praise.

Scratching is another common problem. There are clicker training methods, but deterrents can also be successful. Use a small water bottle and good aim when prince charming starts flexing his claws on your antique side chair. One burst of water should startle him enough to send him flying. The secret is not to harm, but to scare. Eventually, his mind will associate the action with the startle and dissuade him from his scratching.

There are many other dog-like tricks that cats can perform, and they aren’t difficult to train. Clicker training is probably the best for it, but praise and treats for preferred behaviors can also be influential. Remember, your cat is not a dog, but he can be manipulated . . . uh, trained with the right know-how.

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