We all know you can teach a dog new tricks, but perhaps we’ve not been paying our feline friends enough attention. Cats are intelligent animals and are actually very receptive to training — especially when they are kittens.
While your cat may enjoy snuggling up for the occasional cuddle, felines are generally a lot more independent than their canine cousins. That means lots of patience is needed when training a cat.
Join us as we uncover how to train a cat and look into some useful, and some slightly more unusual, examples of what a cat can be trained to do!
How to Train a Cat
First things first: Before you think about training your cat, you need to make sure she is socialized with humans and any other pets you may have.
Ready to get started? Well, it’s essential that you begin the training process with good energy and a positive attitude. You should never punish, but rather use positive reinforcement to encourage your cats.
Clicker Training for Cats
Where you train your cat is very important — make sure it’s a quiet place, with no distractions from the television or loud music. Apart from that, it’s pretty simple — all you need is your cat’s favorite treat and a clicker! Clickers can be bought for just a couple of bucks, but if you don’t have one you can use a regular click button pen.
There are various things you can teach your cat to do (more on that later), but it’s important to respond to desired behavior with a click shortly followed by a treat. Just giving treats can be confusing, but by pairing it with a click you’re giving your cat a clear message that they are on the right track.
Be consistent with your signals and repeat the click and treat combo at the right moment. Keep training sessions short and ideally do them before meals — cats learn better when they are hungrier and the treats can be an appetizer of sorts! Remember you should never deny your cat food: punishment is not conducive to successfully training your cat.
If you’re not convinced about clicker training, maybe this will sway you: A clinical study found that cats in shelters learned positive behaviors faster and showed improved well-being after undergoing just two weeks of clicker training.
What Can You Train a Cat to Do?
From responding to the word “sit” to spinning around in circles, the possibilities are (almost) endless. Still, it’s important to only focus on one skill at a time — you don’t want to overwhelm your poor cat! Let’s go through a few examples of what you can teach your cat to do.
Train Your Cat to Come to You
You’re going to use the clicker method for this one. Start by making a click (or another recognizable and easy-to-reproduce sound) just before opening a bag or can of food. After repeating this for a while your cat will begin to associate the click with that joyful feeling mealtimes bring her, and she’ll start to head towards you when she hears the sound.
The next step involves using the clicker at different times of the day. In the beginning, it’s important to practice over short distances and to reward your cat with a tasty treat when she comes. Over time you’ll be able to click from further away and your cat will shoot towards you like a homing pigeon!
Remember not to tire your cat out and keep training sessions to five minutes or less.
Train Your Cat to Shake Hands With You
If you’re looking for tricks to teach your cat, it’s best to avoid making her dance around on her hind legs and start with a simple trick like shaking hands.
For this one, you need to get yourself on the same level as your cat. Tap on your cat’s paw while saying “shake” or another command word of your choice. When your cat moves her paw, use the clicker and give her a small treat. Keep this going until your cat offers her paw in response to the command word alone, without you needing to tap her paw at the same time.
Cat tricks like this can be hard to master, so remember to be patient and spread these short training sessions out over different days.
Toilet Train Your Cat
Now this one is a little out there, but bear with us… you can actually train your cat to jump up and use a human toilet! While we’re too worried about inappropriate urination in other locations (or our clumsy cat falling into the toilet!) to personally recommend doing this, some cat parents have made the effort to save on litter and have a cleaner home.
Start out with your cat’s litter box next to your toilet and then gradually bring it closer to the top of the toilet seat — perhaps even using a stool to make it easier for your cat. Once your cat is used to using her litter box while sitting on top of the toilet, it’s time to use a special litter box that fits within the toilet bowl. You can find litter boxes like this in toilet training kits, along with flushable litter and other accessories.
Slowly start to use less and less of the flushable litter: this will help your cat get used to going without it. Eventually, you’ll be able to remove the litter box entirely for your fully toilet-trained kitty!
A word of caution: Despite your best efforts, some cats just aren’t up for learning how to use the toilet like a human! Don’t worry — teach them something else!
Whatever you’re training your cat to do, it’s important to reward her with something that truly feels like a reward. Canidae® PURE 3-in-1 Goodness Freeze Dried Raw Beef Liver treats are made with just one ingredient: 100% beef liver. We only use premium cuts that are rich in protein, vitamin A and iron. By definition, these delicious one-ingredient cat bites have no fillers, artificial colors or preservatives.
Get your cat’s training off on the right foot with Canidae PURE 3-in-1 Goodness Freeze Dried Raw Beef, available now at Petco.