It’s a common belief that you can’t train cats; that they are not obedient or can’t be trained. It’s very untrue. Though cats don’t have the natural ability to understand cause an effect like dogs, they can be trained. In other words: it’s a heck of a lot harder to train a cat than a dog. I’ve had my cat Wilson since he was three weeks old. Now at seven years old, Wilson (nicknamed “Mega Kitty”) knows a handful of tricks: playing tag, sitting on command and coming home when he hears my call. Here are a few things I learned about training cats:
Cats are selfish by nature, so they need an incentive to do something
To train Wilson to sit, I shake a bag of treats and offer him one if he sits. In addition to sitting, he understands the command “wait” and knows not to get the treat until it is offered to him. The trick is not to give into the cat. If he or she doesn’t sit, then no treat. Repetition is key with these little critters, so it might take a while for them to catch on and/or cooperate. It took me four hours to teach Wilson to sit. Remember not to give them too many treats like what my mom does. Wilson sits about 8 times a day with her!!
Using Non-Lethal Force
Cats can be kind of dense…that or they just don’t want to do certain things. Sometimes you have to put them in the motions. For example, I had to tell Wilson to sit and then push his butt to make him sit down. After a few times, he started understanding the movement. Think of it as kitty training wheels!
Tone is Key
Be sure to watch your tone. When training your cat, speak in a friendly voice. However, you want to use a different tone when it’s a command. When I tell Wilson to sit or call him home from playing in the yard, I use a deeper tone of voice so he can better recognize the context of what I’m saying. It typically takes about one to three attempts to get him to come home.
Remember that cats are all about looking out for number one. Give them affirmation that they did a good job. Pet them and tell them how proud you are of them. Your cat is not going to do everything you try to train them. For example, I’ve been trying for three years to teach Wilson how to fist bump…no luck!