While cats are often considered independent creatures who don’t require much training, teaching your cat basic commands and proper house manners can make for a happier and healthier cat-human relationship. Training establishes boundaries, enhances communication, provides mental stimulation, and allows your cat to interact positively with your home and family.
With the right techniques tailored to your cat’s unique personality, even notoriously aloof cats can become delightful and obedient pets. This article will explore five fundamental tips to begin successfully training your cat.
Start With Basic Commands
Cats are intelligent animals capable of learning simple voice commands when positively reinforced. Start training with your cat’s name, simple requests like “come” and “sit,” and phrases that cue actions they regularly perform, like “eat” or “treat.” But, you need to be realistic; cats won’t learn intricate tricks or extensive vocabulary like dogs. But reinforcing basic commands builds communication and comprehension between you and your cat. Get your cat’s attention and eye contact before issuing a command. Use an upbeat, encouraging tone, and never yell.
Give the command once, then immediately praise and reward with treats, pets, or play when your cat correctly responds. Consistency is key. Train for just a few minutes at a time but repeat sessions daily. End each session on a positive note. Eventually, phase out constant treatment rewards as your cat learns regular compliance. Refresh old commands periodically with refresher training sessions. With patience, your cat will soon respond to these fundamental commands.
Prioritize Litter Box Training
Proper litter box use is one of the most important behaviors to train your cat on from a young age. Choose a litter box appropriately sized for your cat. A bigger litter box is better for their comfort. A large litter box offers more space for cats to relieve themselves without feeling confined. Keep the box freshly cleaned to encourage use and establish good potty habits. More litter means more absorption, too. High-walled, large boxes allow cats to dig and kick without spraying litter out.
Encourage Good Behavior
In addition to commands, positively reinforcing desirable behaviors your cat displays teaches them good house manners and discourages problem areas like furniture scratching. Watch for actions you want to encourage, like using scratching posts instead of couches, resting in cat beds rather than kitchen counters, gentle play with humans or other home pets, coming when called, polite interaction with guests, and more. Praise verbally, provide treats, initiate playtime, and show your cat affectionately when they demonstrate appropriate behavior. They will quickly learn which habits lead to rewards.
Discourage Bad Behavior
While promoting good habits is ideal, undesirable behavior still needs appropriate discouragement. Yelling, hitting, and other negative reactions often backfire by increasing a cat’s stress. Instead, train your cat to avoid unacceptable actions using these tips:
- Respond immediately, once unacceptable behavior starts, with a firm “no” or loud hand clap to interrupt the action.
- Redirect your cat’s energy by engaging them in an acceptable activity like a rousing play session.
- Remove access to the area, item, or opportunity driving the behavior, like countertop snacks or curtains to climb.
- Use mats, foil, or repellent sprays to make undesirable areas less appealing.
- Try anxiety-relieving calming sprays, herbs, or supplements if stress is a factor.
Socialize Your Cat
Proper socialization is key for a well-adjusted cat that’s friendly with guests and comfortable in any situation. Gradually introduce your cat to new sights, sounds, smells, people, and animals in a calm and positive environment starting at a young age. Let your cat approach new people and pets on their terms rather than forcing interactions. Keep introductions very brief at first to avoid overwhelming your cat. Use food rewards to associate newcomers with something positive. Ensure your cat can access safe hiding places or trees to observe the action.
Travel in the car in a secure carrier to fun destinations like the park frequently so they become accustomed to rides. Expose your cat to gently handling their paws, tail, and ears. Invite trusted friends over regularly so additional humans don’t seem threatening. A slow, steady, and reassuring socialization process prevents fear and distrust.
While cats will never fetch sticks or “shake hands,” they can successfully learn to respond to basic commands, use a litter box reliably, engage in desirable habits, avoid undesirable behavior, and feel at ease around strangers, especially when trained using rewards-based positive reinforcement techniques.
Have realistic expectations based on your individual cat’s abilities and personality. Training your cat takes regular consistency, patience, and empathy. But the resulting obedient, polite, and friendly companion is worth the effort.