Training your cat is possible! – Part 20

Training your cat is not only possible, but fun for you and your cat. It provides mental stimulation for your pet, better communication between you, and makes unpleasant cat care chores go more smoothly.

One of the easiest things to teach a cat is to come when called. It is said that felines do not reliably answer your call, but everyone knows that they will reliably answer the can opener. If you call them for dinner, they will come. If you start calling them at other times, use a treat to reward them. A small treat is best, because they can get full and lose interest, or gain a lot of weight! For reliability, become unreliable yourself. Intermittent reinforcement works better than consistent reinforcement, because the animal will try harder for its reward. Also, with a cat, they are very curious-if they sometimes get a food treat and at other times a toy, they will come just out of curiosity. If you call them and have your head stuck under the couch as if you have just seen a mouse, they will definitely show up next time just to see what you’re up to!

After they come when called, you can teach them to sit before receiving their reward. Wait for them to sit by themselves. You can teach a sit, or other action, by gently pushing the animal into position, but it clicks in their mind faster if the action was voluntary-if it’s involuntary they are likely to think they are being rewarded for having their hindquarters pushed down. Cats can learn to do any of their natural actions on command-climbing, jumping onto a surface or through a hoop, or tightrope walking. Lead them through the action with a toy, such as a feather on a stick, or with a treat in hand, and reward them when they have performed it. Practice about five or ten minutes a day.

Training can be used to smooth over unpleasant chores, such as trimming claws. Put the treat bag in sight while holding the cat and cutting the nails, and give rewards when the animal is calm and cooperative. Gradually reduce them until they get a reward at the end of the session. It works if the cat hates being brushed, too.

Do not be too loud, excited or corrective during any of your training sessions, or the cat will run away and hide.

Have fun and think about ways to interest your cat, and you can teach tricks that will amaze even cat lovers.

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