Why Train Your Cat?
There are various reasons that you may wish to train your cat. Perhaps you want to keep them from scratching up your furniture or jumping up on your counters. You may also have a cat that is somewhat destructive and refuses to use the litter box. These cats should be trained so that you can trust them while you are away during the day.
Training your cat can be a great experience and fun for the whole family. Patience and time are essential when training any type of animal, as is consistency and structure. Just about any cat can be trained if they have a natural curiosity and love being around their family.
In general, kittens tend to be easier to train than older cats. Kittens are like children and you can mold them into the type of cat that you want them to grow up into. You are able to teach right and wrong to a kitten, while an older cat may already be set in its ways. Some older cats are still trainable; they just need a little more time and patience than kittens.
Cat Training Supplies
The common supplies you will want to use to train your cat are typically toys and treats.
- Catnip toys
- Cat mats
- Play mice
- Scratching tree
- Post collars
- Cat door
Cats are capable of turning just about anything into a toy. They are pretty easy going and you can often find very inexpensive supplies. You can also make your own toys, as your cat really doesn’t care what the toys are made of. Cats are really easy going.
Remember that cats are all different, so the same toys might not necessarily interest another cat.
Training Your Cat to Know Its Name
One of the first things that you will want to train your cat is to know its name. A clicker can be a useful tool when training your cat and because you can always carry it around in your pocket, your cat training can occur whenever you find a trainable moment.
Remember, each cat has its own unique personality, so they may need some time to understand what the clicker means. The first step is to call the cat’s name and click your clicker. If the cat responds to you, give it a small treat. Small treats are useful because they immediately offer satisfaction.
Be careful, you don’t want to make your cat’s whole dinner out of treats, but use them only during training. When the cat is responding to its name, you will want to use this command and blend it into the cat responding to its name and coming to you when you call. Once the cat is coming to you in response to their name, you will slowly fade out the treats and clicker until the cat is readily coming for a little
scratch or pat when you call it.
This allows you to move onto another area of training without the cat becoming confused by the clicking and treats.
Litter Box Training
When you bring your cat home for the first time you will want to have a litter box already ready to go.
Do not place the litter box near the cat’s food, but in an area where it is easily accessible by the cat. You also want to make sure that the litter box is not too tall for your kitten and that you only have a couple of inches of litter in the box. If you place too much litter in the box, the cat will only kick it around.
You will want a kitty litter that absorbs the smell of urine and the feces from the cat. When the cat uses the litter box you will want to give the cat a treat. If you must move the litter box do so slowly so that the cat always knows where it is located. If the cat doesn’t know where the litter box is, it will most likely have accidents.
Every time after the kitten eats or drinks, you will want to take it to the litter box a few minutes later. Eating, drinking, exercising and sleeping will usually cause a kitten to need to use the bathroom. Be sure to watch your kitten closely and place them in the litter box at the appropriate times.
It should not take them long to figure out where they are supposed to go. If the kitten has an accident, calmly clean it up. Be certain that you get to it quickly so that it does not ruin your carpet.
By understanding cat behaviors you can begin to see how you can use them to train your cat. For example, a cat that jumps and lands on his feet can be taught to jump hoops, sticks or off of a scratching tree.
It takes time for a kitten to build up its “landing gear” so to speak. Kittens will begin to develop the necessary padding for jumping and landing at around seven weeks. It is also important to understand that cats are able to perform these interesting maneuvers because the do not have collarbones and their bones themselves are actually quite flexible. A cat can jump from many distances without injuries.
Cats are also capable of hearing very high tones and pitches. These are similar to the sounds made when you open a can of food or a door. Their sense of smell is very strong and is part of the reason that cats mark their territory, scratch and rub on you and the furniture. They leave their scent in areas so that they can come back and smell where they have been.
Cats can even smell with their mouths. Yes! Can you believe it? Cats have a unique gland called the “Jacobson’s Organ” on the top of their mouth. It is filled with blood. When the cat smells a scent, it opens its mouth and allows the scent to be carried to the sac where it is then processed in the brain. Male cats tend to do this when they smell female cat urine.
Cats have numerous natural instincts that can provide you with insight into how they operate on a day-to-day basis.
Understanding these natural behaviors can help you to understand how you can use their natural instincts and convert them into command type behaviors and successfully train your cat.