When you get a puppy, it’s almost a given that they will require some form of training to grow into a well behaved and happy dog. However, did you know that kittens can also be trained? As most feline parents know, cats can be very independent and introverted but are also quite intelligent. With enough time, patience and effort, cats can be taught a number of tricks. Check out some of our cat training tips below!
The Basics for Cat Training
Training a cat can take a lot of persistence so it’s important not to give up on them! If possible, you should start training your cat as a kitten, as they have not yet developed their own habits and behaviors. Be sure to take a little bit of time every day to focus on your cat’s lessons so that a routine develops. If it’s not done every day, your cat won’t learn as quickly and you can become frustrated. While consistency is important, you also shouldn’t push your cat through the training process too quickly as some days will be easier than others.
If your cat is having a hard time learning a specific step, make sure that you do not take out your frustrations on them as it will set their progress even further behind. The best way to train your cat is by using an abundance of rewards. Make sure you have plenty of training treats on hand so you can reward your cat whenever they make a step in the right direction. You can also reward your cat with activities they might like, such as ear scratches or playing with a special toy together.
There are many different things you might want to teach your cat. You can prioritize what you think is most important to you when devising a lesson plan. Some areas you could consider focusing on when training your cat are properly using the litter box, becoming more socialized, and getting used to being crated.
Your cat might already have been taught how to use a litter box, especially if they were raised with their mother, but if that’s not the case then this should be the first lesson. The best way to start litter box training is by placing the litter box in an accessible but quiet location near your cat’s other belongings such as their bedding and toys, as well as their food and water dishes. This will help them understand that the litter box is their own space.
After your kitten has eaten, place them in their litter box. You can guide them by gently taking their paw and scratching the litter with it. Be sure to reward them when they have successfully used the litter box until they are fully trained.
To encourage regular litter box use, be sure to use high-quality litter and to clean it on a regular basis so that it is more inviting for your kitten and isn’t a negative experience. In the right circumstances, it shouldn’t be difficult to get your kitten used to using the litter box daily.
We recently discussed the importance of socializing a puppy to ensure they grow into a happy and confident dog, and much of that information applies to kittens as well. Many cats are surrendered to shelters because they don’t get along with another pet or attack people who enter their home.
For most cats, their whole world can be found within the walls of the home, and the only living beings they know is the family that they see every day. This is why when new people visit, they might run and hide, or worse, attack them. It’s important to socialize a cat early on in their development, ideally between two and seven weeks old.
Effective steps towards having a well-socialized cat is getting your cat used to being touched and played with by you, having visitors come to the home, bringing your cat to other people’s homes, and using a cat harness and leash to go outside and expose your cat to new experiences. All of these situations should always be paired with your cat’s favorite treats in order to develop positive associations and to reward your cat for their bravery.
Naturally, your cat might not appreciate being harnessed and won’t know how to walk on a leash so this can be taught to them as well. You should start by making the harness a pleasant experience with treats and the more you expose your cat to the harness – by playing with it and doing and undoing the velcro or snaps – the more your cat will become adjusted to its presence. You should try it on your cat a few times before adding a leash and venturing outside, and these trials should be before meal time so that they can be rewarded with their favorite food. Once your cat has adjusted to wearing the harness, you can add the leash and walk them inside the home, first by following and only then by guiding them. If this all goes well, you can then try bringing your harnessed cat outside. It is important to note that not all cats will become comfortable on leash so another way to expose them to the outdoors is by taking them on walks in cat strollers or in specially designed backpacks with windows.
Additionally, once your kitten is properly vaccinated, it’s a good idea to introduce them to dogs and other cats that you know are cat-friendly. This way, your cat will become used to other animals and it will make a potential future furry addition to your family much easier.
If a cat is properly socialized when they are young, they will be a lot more confident and comfortable in otherwise potentially nerve wracking scenarios, and so they won’t be driven to defend themselves.
Crate Training for Cats
Crate training is not something usually associated with cats but it definitely might be worth spending some time on. Throughout your cat’s life, they will have to be transported and crate training can make this significantly easier and stress-free. If properly crate trained, bringing your cat to the vet when they are sick or need a check-up, and transporting them when moving will be much less of a hassle.
A simple way to crate train your kitten would be by feeding them their meals and treats inside the enclosed space while keeping the door open. This will allow your feline to have a positive association with the crate without feeling trapped. Once your kitten has become accustomed to the crate and feels comfortable, you can start closing the door for short periods of time. This will make it much less stressful when you have to use it to transport your cat somewhere as they will already feel safe in their crate.
Training lessons can be a wonderful and beneficial experience for both you and your cat. Working with your cat can help them develop good habits and behaviors around the home that will make you happy, allow your cat to gain confidence and positivity, and deepen your relationship.