7 Functional Tricks To Train Your Cat
Cat training is a great way to connect with your cat and teach them the meaning of a few key words. “The important thing is to let your cat have the final say in what you teach them; not all cats like to do all things,” says Ingrid Johnson, CCBC and director of Fundamentally Feline in Georgia. “Choose behaviors that already come naturally to your cat before setting out to put the behavior on cue.
“Keep it positive,” she adds. “Clicker training is a very effective way to pinpoint the moments your cat does the behavior you focused on.”
Cat training, in a nutshell, is just assigning words to natural behaviors and rewarding your cat for cooperating. Here are seven words and actions to teach your cat:
Encourage your cats to see hands as always rewarding. To discourage biting, dab your knuckles or the back of your hand with a little homemade or store-bought treat paste. Say “gentle” as your cat or kitten licks your hand, pulling your hand away calmly if she begins to nip or bite.
2. Find It
Toss high-value treats at your cat’s paws, and once your cat can follow the toss, add the phrase “Find It.” Yes, it’s that simple. You can then play the shell game with Tupperware containers or even your hands. Say “gentle” if she claws or bites your hand, using a dab of cat paste to encourage licking. Reveal the treat after she licks or taps your hand gently with her paw.
You can use a DIY or store-bought target wand or even the point of your finger. Teach your cat to be alert to the target by presenting it two inches in front of your cat’s nose. The moment she touches it, click and reward her. Once your cat reliably moves to the target, say the word “target” to put this behavior on cue.
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Whenever your cat sits naturally, click and give her a reward. Soon you’ll notice your cat sitting to cue you when you bring the treats out. Add the word “sit” once you can predict her behavior. Then, try luring her into position with a target wand or pointing signal. Click and reward this pose. Gradually phase off clicking every correct response, using the clicker and treats intermittently.
5. On Your Mat & Stay
Create a cat mat by laying a flat mat, towel, or cloth napkin on the counter, sofa, or tabletop. Curiosity might not kill your cat, but it will get the better of her! When she steps on the mat, click. Then toss a treat slightly away from the mat, so your cat has to come back for the next round. Gradually introduce using the cue “on your mat.” Once your cat goes to her mat willingly and remains there, introduce the “stay” cue. Use the mat to encourage your cat to stay in a location such as her cat tree while you eat or cook. You can also bring your cat-mat on vacation or to the veterinarian to console your cat during check-ups.
Cats can learn to come from the minute they enter your home. Pair positive experiences and the shake of a treat cup with the word “come.” To do this, put treats in a cup or container and shake and reward until your cat recognizes the sound. Click and reward your cat when she arrives. Slowly increase the timing between saying “come” and shaking the treats until she comes on cue. Gradually phase out the clicker and reward her intermittently.
Read also: Cats and excessive meowing
7. In the Box (or Cat Carrier)
Most cats will happily jump in a box or explore a bag. Having a direction for this behavior is useful when the time comes to pull out the cat carrier. In fact, pull out the cat carrier long before you ever need it, hiding treats and even feeding your cat or kitten portions of her meal in it. When your cat jumps into the carrier or a box, click and reward the behavior. When your cat prompts you, add the cue “in the box.” Gradually add carrying her about in her box/carrier, rewarding her after each ride.
Lessons often require intense focus, so keep them short and upbeat. End each one with a bout of fun using a feather flyer or a stuffed toy, letting your cat carry it away in victory.
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