Cat Training - It's Possible With These Three Tips, Part-One

 

Cats don’t exactly play frisbee or bark at the mailman. They’re too independent and willful to be caught doing anything so dog-like and showy. There are three things everyone who wants to train their cat needs to know. Yes, cat training is possible. No, training our cats is not the same as training our dogs. Yes, it will take some time and effort, but it’s worth it.


For those wondering what they’ll need and where to start, the answer is here. All we need is our cat or kitten, a clicker, and healthful, all-natural treats. EcoTreats™ Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon Filet Bits and EcoTreats™ Signature Chicken Jerky are premium, all-natural treats that cats love. By choosing the best treats, we ensure the best possible results, and a happy, healthy kitty.  

Reasons To Train A Cat

Feline behaviors are not always desirable. Sometimes kitties can go through transitions, or they may be dealing with stress, which can cause behavioral problems. We might just want to engage more with our cats to keep them mentally challenged and to bond with them. Or there may be a new kitty in the home who needs a little housetraining. Bottom line? There are plenty of reasons to train our cats:

  • End furniture scratching
  • Correct spraying and urinating
  • Help a new kitty figure out the litter box
  • Correct aggression toward people or other fur babies
  • Alleviate stress, fear, or anxiety
  • Redirect compulsive behaviors like over-grooming
  • Bond with Mr. Socks and create a stronger relationship
  • Ensure a responsive kitty in case of emergency
  • Engage felines who need more mental stimulation
  • Safely enjoy the outdoors together
  • Travel with minimal stress
  • Tolerate nail trims and other grooming
  • Have fun together
  • Impress your friends with a cat who can jump through hoops

Kitty Training Best Practices

There aren’t a lot of rules when it comes to cat training, but there are a few must-know practices that can make the experience successful or unravel and damage the relationship.

Only use positive reinforcement

Cat Training - It's Possible With These Three Tips, Part-One

Dogs are eager to please. That means positive and negative reinforcement can be useful. We can use the mere tone of our voice to tell a dog he’s a “good boy” to reinforce the right behavior. And we can use a deep voice, frowny face, and the firm word, “no” to let our pups know when a behavior is bad.


Cats require something a bit different. Negative reinforcement will only damage their trust and your relationship with them. An almost universal response cats have to punishment is to run away, rather than learning what not to do. If the punishment doesn’t even have to be that bad. If our cats are scared enough, they may even run and hide. It can take ages to rebuild that trust.


The reason punishments don’t work is because they create stress, and stress is the single most common cause of poor behaviors in cats. Stress also significantly compromises a cat’s immune system leading to a variety of complications. A compromised immune system in cats is especially dangerous because it makes our Mr. Socks particularly vulnerable to diseases, colds, and bladder inflammation. This, in turn, creates a cycle of bad behavior because kitty doesn’t feel well.


Cats are easier to train, and more responsive when we reward behaviors and redirect the bad behaviors with attractive alternatives. Think of it as persuasion instead of punishment. Convince cats they want to do the things we’re showing them, rather than telling them to do it, and they’ll be more accurate, more attentive, and much more willing.

Use treats to guide and reward

Cat Training - It's Possible With These Three Tips, Part-One

When working with canine companions, we have to figure out whether they’re food motivated, praise motivated, or whether they’ll be easier to train with a toy and some playtime. Cats, on the other hand, need treats to do their best work. It can also be helpful to have a clicker on-hand when we move to more advanced training.


Choose low-calorie treats so we don’t make weight gain a side effect of training. Choose delicious treats, so they’ll be interested. And choose healthful, nutritionally sound, high-quality treats so we don’t compromise Garfield’s health.


EcoTreats™ Signature Chicken Jerky is the perfect cat treat choice. It’s freshest, high-quality chicken jerky on the market and cats love it. Also, it’s free from salt, glycerin, and other additives that can irritate kitty digestive systems.


We have to be consistent about not responding to or redirecting bad behavior. For example, if we move across time zones and need to change Mr. Fuzzy Boots’ breakfast time, we need to be diligent about not getting up early to feed him when he walks on our faces to wake us up.


Also, instead of saying no we need to remember to redirect attention whenever possible. When our new kitten uses her nails while kneading our laps, we have to resist the urge to say no or react negatively. Instead, we can redirect her kneading to a pillow. Or we can distract her with some gentle playtime by dangling a string.

Have patience and think of the long game

Cat Training - It's Possible With These Three Tips, Part-One

Training cats requires a mental shift for many because we often use negative and positive reinforcement with dogs, children, and coaching moments throughout life. Before diving into a training scenario, we need to think ahead and plan redirections and the use of treats regarding the expected behaviors. And we need to understand that kitty attention spans are pretty short. Especially since we need them to enjoy the entire experience to keep the trainings productive, now and in the future. It will take time for Sergeant Whiskers to learn. The more consistent and clear we are, the faster kitty will be ready to happily jump through hoops.


So, we now know that we need three things to teach our kitty anything. Every cat-guardian should restrict training techniques to positive reinforcement. We need to use healthful, low-calorie, delicious treats cats will want to work for, like EcoTreats™ Signature Chicken Jerky. And we need patience because cats really are different from dogs and people.


Watch for part two in this Cat Training series where we’ll cover cat training scenarios and simple, but effective ways everyone can train their cat quickly, safely, and with love.



Michelle Lievense

Michelle is a writer and ghostwriter, specializing in wellness, sustainability, and global social change. She is particularly fond of serving ethical organizations who contribute to a better life for people and animals through humane and environmentally responsible missions. At Vet Organics, Michelle uses her time as a vet tech, her academic studies in animal science and behavior, and nearly a decade working on a ranch teaching animal husbandry to write on a variety of cat and canine health topics. When she isn't writing, Michelle can be found hiking in the mountains of Colorado with her dogs or snuggled up with a good book and her cats.

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