The 101 on sat cat training

Training a cat is not necessarily the same as training a dog. While dogs were bred to help, cats were bred to independently keep the house clear of vermin. If you want to teach your feline companion to do different tricks, you’ll have to approach it delicately. Studies have proven that communicating with your cat exercises their brain and makes them happier. You may have heard from people that cats can’t be trained, but they can be!

Method 1: Using Sounds

Get a clicker! 

Using a clicker involves reinforcing positive behavior with a sound. When the cat does something you approve of, like squatting towards a sitting position, reward the cat and hit the clicker. Try to avoid rewarding the cat without the clicker noise so there is no confusion about why a reward is happening.[1]

  • Initially you may have to use the clicker with a treat without any action by the cat, just to get the ball rolling.[2]
  • As a substitute for a clicker you can use a ball point pen.

Use vocal cues.

 Begin the process by making a specific, repeatable sound before feeding the cat. Preferably, this sound can be before opening a can of cat food. Once the cat associates that sound with food, the sound can be used for specific training without food. When you see your cat start to move towards a sit, make the vocal cue. If the cat sits, make the same sound.

  • A great way to use this vocal training is to simply get your cat to come to you. After the cat has made a solid association, initiate the training in small steps.[4]
  • Don’t allow your cat to jump for the treat. The same vocal cue strategies used to reinforce positive actions can be used to tell your cat that the treat isn’t permitted without sitting down.

Give your cat a bell to ring. 

Try putting a bell at your cat’s eye level and showing it a treat. When the cat wants something and starts to meow, ignore it. When the bell is rung, however, look for the cat to sit and reward it immediately. [5]

  • Ignore destructive behavior. Wait for the desired reaction (e.g. squatting towards a sit or actually sitting).

Method 2: Rewarding with Treats

Remove distractions from a comfortable room in which the cat likes to relax and sit. 

Cats are easily distracted and you wouldn’t want anything to contradict or interfere with the training. Try to remove sounds, toys, food, and anything else your cat may be tempted by.[6]

  • Be sure to choose a room in which your cat is comfortable and used to.
  • Close blinds and/or curtains to keep exterior distractions to a minimum.

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