Cat training is easier than you think. That’s because it’s not work, it’s a fun game! At least that’s the way I see it. And if you approach it right, that’s what your cat will think too!
But why train your cat? Yes, there are cute tricks to be had…but it’s also useful. You may need to find your cat in a hurry, or you may need them to stay out of your way while you’re doing something like making dinner or fiddling with a gadget. That’s when certain things like coming when called, or learning to sit in a special place can come in handy.
Make training fun for your cat and they will look forward to the sessions. It will also build a closer bond between the two of you. Sharing this kind of concentrated attention is always a good thing.
Here are the basic rules for how to train your cat, no matter what you want them to do.
1. Set up a schedule.
Figure out a good time to do the sessions, and make it a regular part of your day. Cats thrive on predictability.
2. Each session should have a routine.
Routines are comforting to cats, so each session should have an order to it, and a definite finish.
3. Training sessions should be short.
5 to 10 minutes is enough. We cats get bored easily, so even if we are having a bad training day, don’t make us stay overtime. It will just make us want to leave even more!
4. Have lots of fun!
Even if your cat is slow to learn something, laugh it off and don’t take it seriously. Make sure your cat knows you are enjoying your time with them. Frustration will only make them think of training as something unpleasant.
5. Be patient.
Your cat may catch on right away, or they may not. Either way, it’s about the process even more than it’s about the end result. Watching your cat’s reactions and behavior will tell you so much about how to proceed. But you’ll only figure that out if you stay in the moment.
6. Be persistent.
If you give up after just a couple of tries, your cat will never learn what you’re trying to teach them. Cats benefit from repetition, just like people do. I bet you were lousy at some things, but you persisted and eventually got good at them. For my human it was parallel parking. For me it was ringing my bell.
7. Give out lots of praise (and treats!).
Think cats are impervious to praise? Guess again! We actually like that warm feeling of approval, even if we don’t need it the way dogs do. So don’t be stingy. Dole out the praise when we’ve done the trick. Or when we at least tried. Or managed to make it through a five minute training session, even though we didn’t quite get what we were supposed to do. And of course treats, or whatever reward your cat prefers, is required. We do need an incentive, of course!
I hope these tips help take your relationship with your cat to the next level! If you have any questions, or tips of your own, let me know in the comments.
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