Training your cat is possible! – Part 3

Training a cat is possible, but only on its own terms.

In reality it is cats who train us. This is clear in all their actions, responses and attitudes, and boy can they have attitudes. But it is possible to persuade a cat to co-operate by providing what it wants and needs.

We can’t train cats to do what they don’t want to do. But we can train a cat to adapt what it wants to suit us. So watch the cat carefully in the early days of your relationship. Listen to it. Talk to it. Study its expressions. Try to adapt what you want and what it wants as far as you can. Trying to insist will only antagonise the cat. And if you offend it… out.

A cat loves comfort almost more than it loves food. If anyone is prepared to provide both that is fine by the cat. You feed it, it will stay. You provide it somewhere warm and comfortable to sleep, it will stay and even put up with your own idiosyncrasies.

Food is paramount. Give a cat food it doesn’t like, and it won’t eat it. However it is possible to persuade a cat to eat in a particular place and at a particular time. Like all members of its family, a cat will manage on one meal a day, but it will appreciate it if the meal is there at the usual time each day.

It may be difficult to persuade a cat where to sleep, and closing doors may be necessary, but a cat will learn by association, and once it begins to associate co-operation with getting what it wants, it will adapt.

In order to train a cat to relieve itself in a particular place, one has to be reasonable. Cats are essentially clean. They would rather go outside and then cover it up afterwards, so make this possible. Provide a cat flap, or read the sign if the cat is hovering near the door and talking to you. It wants to go out – open the door.

Alternatively provide a dirt box, with plenty of contents so the cat can cover what it produces. But change the contents regularly. The cat will appreciate this.

A cat likes to scratch, so protect your furniture by providing it with something to use, preferably in wood which is soft enough for its claws to scratch through.

Finally physical punishment doesn’t work. It will only make things worse, and you may lose the cat.

Yes – training a cat is possible, but not easy, not for the impatient, and certainly not for the control freak. Because that is what cats like to be themselves.

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