Cats are independent and intelligent beings. Although it has been previously thought that cats are untrainable creatures, many anecdotes and videos of cats performing adorable trick prove otherwise.
Cats are not difficult to teach. Their natural hunter’s brain enables them to grasp that certain actions bring them. In a way, they are very eager to earn their food. Their instinct and their innate resourcefulness make them smart learners.
It is safe to say that cats are easy to teach. So here are a few important things to remember in teaching your cat tricks to make the teaching experience easier and even more enjoyable:
Like all the members of the animal kingdom, cats are highly motivated by food. It is after all a survival instinct. Any action that results in food will be repeated. The brain will associate that action with a positive reaction and thus drive the movement to be performed again.
Just make sure that the food you give is special for the cat by getting treats that are yummy and not usually given to them. This will make them want the reward even more which, effectively maximizes their motivation!
In a few words, give them yummy treats and they will happily perform the trick for you!
The cricket-like sound easily sticks to the cat’s minds. It basically uses another one of the cat’s senses to the teaching of tricks. Giving treats and praise after the sound of the clicker creates a strong link in the cat’s brain. The same principle applies for verbal cues like, “sit”, “stay” and “jump”. In fact, the clicker sounds and verbal cues work best when used together.
Always find a way to encourage your cat positively. Never use pain or other negative sensations like hunger to elicit a response. This will only create negative associations in your cat’s brain and will cause your cat to distrust you or avoid you altogether. A strong and authoritative voice may be used to signal that action is discouraged.
Instead, reward positive actions to encourage repetition. For instance, if you dislike when your cat scratches furniture, but it a scratching post and praise and reward him with food when he uses it.
Sometimes, it feels easier to just punish your cat. But, it is always better to think of creative and positive ways to encourage positive behavior.
The statement, “practice makes perfect,” still holds water even the in eyes of kittens and cats. The same is true with the statement, “consistency is key.” The consistent training of your cats, preferably daily, will let the cat learn faster. Make sure the clicker, verbal cues, and treats are also consistently and timely given.
Keep it Short and Fun!
Keep the training from feeling like a chore by keeping it short. About 5 minutes of training once or twice per day keeps the cats entertained and stimulated. Anything longer than that might bore your cat. Sometimes, it will also annoy them. It is important to pay attention to the cues your cat is giving you. If your cat seems uninterested or uneasy or slightly agitated, it is time to rest.
Training is important for you to have a healthy relationship with your cat. It will also be another avenue to bond. It might also get your cat out of dangerous situations. Indeed, training has a lot of merits. So invest time and thought in training your cat. And, do it well.