Training your cat is possible! – Part 13

Probably the most important thing to remember with regard to training a cat, is to get in first! In other words, train the cat before the cat trains you! Cats are possibly the wiliest creatures on the planet, and if you don’t lay down the ground rules when they are lovely little cuddly balls of fluff, they will simply walk (pad?) all over you, shedding hair and snagging expensive trousers as they go!

Finding out how cats learn is vitally important before we start trying to train them! Like most intelligent creatures, cats learn from experience, and if the experience is good, then like all good kitties, they will try to repeat it. If they don’t enjoy the experience, they are most likely to turn their nose in the air and avoid it in the future. For instance, cats love raking the furniture with their claws, so they do it often. However, sticking their paw over a candle flame will hurt them and they’re unlikely to attempt to do it again!

You need to ensure that whatever you would like your cat to do fun and pleasurable. Conversely anything that you do not want them to do should be made as unpleasant as possible.

Excessive meowing is usually one of the most common problems that owners have with their cats. It’s interesting to note that the most common reason that a cat will meow a lot is because it has been trained to do so. Cats learn that all they have to do is to meow and they will get exactly what they want, whether it is a cuddle, food, or just lots of attention. Often, what starts out as a demand for attention soon becomes a habit and they could very likely meow all day and night, just for fun! One can break the “meowing continuously” habit by exercising the puss daily with play sessions that you get actively involved in. Pulling a piece of cotton on the end of a string, for kitty to chase, or dangling a “spider” for them to swat are just two of the exercises that will keep both of you occupied (and amused) for a whilebefore the cat finally gives up with a yawn and a stretch and goes off to find a nice sunny corner to curl up in, while you get back to whatever you were doing before you were “meowed” away!

It’s important to know that each time you give in to your cat’s verbal demands you are teaching her to meow even more. Wait until she’s quiet, and she’ll learn to associate silence with rewards. Some cats enjoy talking and some owners enjoy their cat’s chatting to them. However, if you want a few moments of peace, you can teach your cat to be quiet on request. Ask your kitty quietly, to “Shush.” If she ignores you, say it louder, or give her a quick squirt in the face with water once or twice. After a few repetitions, she will get the idea and obey the gentle request of “Shush,” rather than get screamed at or splashed with water.

If your cat is scratching or shredding your furniture, you need to realize that she needs to scratch and climb. Scratching conditions their claws by removing the old layers of the nails. Since your cat will want and need to scratch, provide her with a variety of scratching posts and teach her to use them. If she has a single favorite scratching site, this may be temporarily protected by covering it with some netting or loosely woven fabric. Cats do not like to snag their claws.

Acknowledgements: perfect paws.

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