Can you train your cat the same way you train your dog? Yes and no. As cats are very different and independent animals, they seem not to follow your orders. That doesn’t mean you can’t have an influence on their behaviour. If you are consistent and patient, you can train your cat in no time.
How to train a cat?
To learn how to train a cat, you must start with very basic steps that reward good behaviour and discourage bad ones.
First, determine what you would like your cat to learn, and then advance to them in small, simple steps each day. Before you start training your cat, decide on what commands you will use and what types of behavioural actions you want her to learn.
Here are some common training goals
- To use the litterbox
- To come when you call them or make a particular gesture
- Stay calm during grooming
- Interact with you, other people, or other animals
- Play with toys, with yourself, or with another cat
- Travel calmly
Training your cat is important for several reasons. Most importantly, it will help your cat become social and happy around humans and other animals. Training is also important for your well-being. The better you train your cat, the better your relationship will be.
5 tips how to train a cat
Short and natural sessions
After you’ve determined the lessons you and your cat will master, it’s time to get into action. First, it is important to know that the attention span of your cat is much shorter than yours. Test how long your cat is ready to be in your company and set the training sessions accordingly.
Some kittens learn potty training quickly (or even before they go home with you) after seeing their mother use a litter box. But, if you need to do the litter box training, it will be easy and done in no time. Put the cat in the litterbox after she is done with her meal, several times a day, and she will quickly learn to do that by herself.
If you want to train your kitten to play with her toys, give her some space and time. Stay around until she explores her new toys on her own. Once she is done, you can participate. You can use catnip toys that cats are naturally attracted to. Read how to make them easily at home here.
If you are excited about training, you may want to jump in and teach your cat everything all at once. But to be successful, it’s best to practice one lesson at a time. Once your cat has mastered what you are working on, you can move on to the next training exercise.
Don’t limit training to one area
Once your cat has learned an order, practice it in different areas of your home. If you introduce a kitten to other pre-existing animals and let them meet only in the living room, she might think that that the other animal only exists in this space. It’s not a problem if your other animal is a fish, for example. But if your kitten meets a dog, she should understand that she will also meet him in other areas of the house.
The same applies when training her not to scratch rugs and furniture. As she will find those items in multiple places in the house, train your cat in all areas if possible.
If you are living with your cat alone, you don’t have to worry too much about involving others in the training process. But you need to train your cat to be social, not territorial. For this reason, we recommend you invite friends or family members to socialize with your new pet. This must be done shortly after bringing your cat home. Don’t forget to remind them to keep some distance.
If you are bringing a cat into a large family, it is more important to involve everyone in the training process. There are many reasons why the whole family should get involved, but mainly for consistency and relationship building. After all, she will see these familiar faces every day! Everyone should be informed about the training goals and methods.
Use a reward system
Rewards for strengthening positive behaviours are great motivators. She will appreciate any positive praise you give her. Speak in a kind and cheerful voice and say things like “What a good girl” and “good job!” so that she knows that these gestures mean a positive thing. Alternatively, you can give her some edible treats or cat biscuits.
Training doesn’t happen overnight, and it is very normal that your cat will make some mistakes. Punishment does not work well when you are trying to train a kitten because your cat won’t understand your behaviour. Negative experiences can cause trauma and aggressiveness.
Never hit, slap, or physically correct your kitten during training, remember to keep your voice soft and calm. If your cat feels threatened not only will the training fail, but she will only learn to be afraid of you.
If you need to correct bad behaviour (like scratching furniture), try to make a quick, sharp noise. It will also help if you say the same phrase every time, like “Bam!” or “Yow!” The point is to alert your cat and distract her from the behaviour she is currently doing. Avoid words that you regularly use as this can confuse your cat.
Learning to train your cat can be a fun experience for the whole family. Remember to be patient and positive, and you two will do it.