Cats are intelligent creatures and can be trained to perform certain tricks. As unbelievable as it sounds, it can be done! Yes, one of the first studies in understanding the importance of reinforcement in behaviour pattern of animals was first done on cats.
Granted, cats are not social like dogs. Yet, in order to train them you have got to understand more about their behaviour. Cats are independent creatures who unlike dogs do not work for praise and attention. You need a lot of patience and creativity to train your cat as they are not easy to motivate. The first thing you need to do is to find a treat that your cat absolutely loves and use them during your training session.
The benefits of training your kitten
Training your kitten comes with added benefits. It keeps their mind and body active and stimulated apart from making them healthy. It is also a great way to strengthen the bond between the two of you. Apart from teaching them helpful tricks like catch and fetch you can also teach them to perform useful tricks such as sit, stay and to come to you when they are called. Litter training also can be done this way.
How to train your kitten?
Firstly, find a treat that your cat absolutely loves. It can be boiled pieces of chicken, tuna or even commercial cat treats. Once you have this sorted, the next step is to teach them steps of positive reinforcement training. That is to teach them the desired behaviour and to reward them when they do so. If you want your cat to sit in a place you need to teach them to sit when you ask them to.
- Get your cat’s attention. For this you need to hold a tasty treat at their nose. Once they sniff and are interested to eat move it from their nose to between their ears and over their head. Keep in mind that if you raise your treat higher up from their head you will be teaching them to stand on their rear legs rather than teaching them to sit! Cats keenly follow the motion from their nose to their head and will put their chin up and back and their butt will automatically be lowered to sit.
- The minute your cat sits down praise them lavishly and hand over the treat to them. If it does not go well the first time, they are still learning. So, give them the treat anyway. Your cat will learn through trial and error and with lot of repetitions. Hand over their treat each time they get closer to sitting until they learn to sit with their bottom on the floor.
- A clicker helps in training your pet faster. You can use a clicker pen for the sound. Each time your cat performs the correct behaviour pattern, click and throw them the treat. The click noise lets your pet know that they did the right thing and are getting a reward in return. Just make sure you click at the same time when they get the behaviour right and swiftly hand over the treat to them. Ensure you limit your training sessions daily for a few minutes as most cats get bored very soon and will lose interest.
- Keep in mind that punishing your cat will not help them learn the desired behaviour. They will learn to fear you and will run away. It also creates unnecessary stress in your pet which you clearly do not want.
So, persuasion, practice and reward are the keys to train your cat successfully. You can always contact a vet or a behaviorist for their professional advice.